The 2017 K2 season is over. Only one expedition made it all the way to the summit, however, Fredrik Sträng vows to try again next year.
DISPATCH #10 Fredrik Sträng K2 2017
We’ve covered Fredrik Sträng‘s journey back to K2 after 9 years of absence since the 2008 K2 tragedy that killed 11 climbers. Through Dispatches, we’ve updated you on his progress from Sweden to Islamabad, from Skardu to Base Camp and from Base Camp all the way up through each camp on the mountain. We’ve cheered him on and sent our best wishes for a summit, but this year there was not to be a summit for Fredrik.
Fredrik endured a series of setbacks on K2, the weather being the most challenging adversary for this master climber. Communication was also down during the last few days of his expedition; during the week of 21 July, his SAT phone stopped working, leaving him unable to send or receive messages from his SAT email. Resourceful as he is though, he made efforts to keep his public and BCM updated on his progress via a borrowed SAT device (Thanks, Harry) and by orchestrating a third party Dispatch plan that required him calling a trusted contact with updates on his progress and having that person update his FB page with short telegram-style posts.
Who Summited K2 in 2017?
The K2 2017 Climbing Season saw just one team reach the summit led by Mingma G. Sherpa; part of that expedition was Vanessa O’Brien, who became the first American woman to reach the summit of K2. The list of summiteers was published by Mingma on 28 July which read:
Finally, we are at the summit of Mt.K2
Mr. Mingma G Sherpa
Mr. Dawa Gyalje Sherpa
Mr. Tsering Pemba Sherpa
Mr. Nima Tshering Sherpa
Mr. Lakpa Nuru Sherpa
Mr. Nima Nuru Sherpa
Mr. Ang Tsering Sherpa
Mr. Zhang liang
Miss. Jing Xue
Mr. John Snorri
Other expeditions, including Fredrik Sträng and Ali Musa and the Polish mountaineering ski team led by Andrzej Bargiel, did not summit this year after an eventful season of precise weather predictions for a solid attempt and the constant bombardment of snow and muggy weather K2 is known for.
Fredrik Sträng’s Attempts to Summit K2 in 2017
Sträng initially made an attempt for the summit on 27 June, climbing from Base Camp through to each Camp, trailblazing a route through chest-deep snow and harsh conditions with his partner. After reaching Camp 4, Sträng had to turn back, braving the descent back to Base Camp. They made it as far as 7,400 meters, but the worsening weather and dangerous conditions offered little visibility and a haven for avalanches that could swallow them from the face of the mountain at any given time. The pair retreated to Base Camp where they waited for a good weather window and planned their next move, still fit for another attempt at the summit.
While his descent was underway, the Mingma G. expedition was preparing for their ascent to the summit, privy to clear conditions and an epic effort to reach the top that initially included 14 team members and ended in 12 reaching the summit.
Although the news that another expedition reached the summit successfully after their hard attempt may have been disheartening, in a show of true sportsmanship, when the expedition announced they had summited, Fredrik congratulated the summiteers with a statement he forwarded to his contact.
First of all, Fredrik wants to congratulate all of today’s summiteers on K2 and Broad Peak and wish them a safe descent!
Fredrik had not given up on his dream of standing on the precipice of the most dangerous and challenging mountain in the world, a dream he’s held close to his heart for many years, even through his trials and tribulations, K2 remained an unclaimed gem he was set on retrieving.
He tried again, this time through the Cescen Route and he teamed up with the three members of the Polish K2 Ski Expedition and five Pakistanis to reach the summit, leaving on 28 June and heading directly for Camp 3 at 7,100 meters. The next day, the climbers were supposed to climb from Camp 3 to Camp 4 at 7,800 meters and leave Camp 4 during the night and begin their summit climb.
However, somewhere in between Camp 3 and Camp 4, the climbers had to turn back. Every member of the Polish team turned back, and Fredrik and Ali Musa were left without fixed ropes through this part of the climb. They decided to set the ropes themselves but turned back to discuss their options at Base Camp. The next day, after reaching Base Camp, the two decided that the plan was too risky and ended their expedition.
Both were faced with the reality that they’d be utterly alone on an isolated mountain, as the rest of the teams, those who had been successful and those who hadn’t, were packing their gear and supplies and heading out back to Skardu. Fredrik stated on 31 July:
There were only two options left for me since everyone else is packing their gear and leaving BC, heading home.
1. Make a fast solo ascent, only carrying the most essential gear. This is something I know I have the experience, psyche and physics to manage. However, this would mean a bit of Russian roulette when the current warm weather has hit the upper parts of the mountain. I would, for instance, have to pass the dangerous ”bottle neck” twice (on the way up and down). The other thing this is that it would feel utterly insecure to be totally alone on the entire mountain. Even the BC will be empty quite soon. 2. Cancel the expedition, pack my gear and leave for home.
I chose option two, considering the big risk when being totally solo on the entire mountain.
The Journey, the Climb and the Fans
This year, Fredrik has seen an enormous outpouring of support from lifelong supporters and new followers alike, all with a belief in a man who has spent his life seeking the best part of himself in everything he achieved or ever sought out to do.
With every update, followers from across the globe left their words of support and were eager for the next one. At Base Camp Magazine, we witnessed many readers who enjoyed the Dispatches, both readers who had never heard of Sträng and those who had been following him for years, waiting patiently for each Dispatch and envisioning being right there on the mountain with this climber, who provides lively updates in a way that pulls you into his world with every sentence. We ran Dispatch in beta for two years before launching the program and we were not disappointed by Sträng, his writing style, his persona and his ability to keep a level climbing head while still providing updates ever so often.
Sträng too noticed the outpouring of support and was grateful for the kind words left by his expedition followers. To them, he left this message:
I am grateful and would like to thank everyone that has followed me on my expedition and cheered me on with nice words and comments! It really warmed my heart! Thank you!
I hope to see you again next year and that you want to follow my journey to K2 again, and hopefully this time all the way to the summit!
It has been a long and eventful journey. It is bittersweet to see it come to an end and commence the end of our K2 2017 Dispatch Reports. But everything good must come to an end and there’s always next year. If Fredrik decides you participate in the Dispatch Program again next year, we’ll be sure to bring you vivid updates as he progresses, until then (if he’s on our roster for next year), here’s a trip down memory lane through all of the images we’ve had the privilege to see from this expedition. We still have one or two more Dispatches to publish for this expedition which will update readers on his safe return to Skardu and the photos of his climb we haven’t been able to see yet.
About Fredrik Sträng
Fredrik Sträng is a Swedish climber, personal trainer and motivational speaker. Sträng has summited 8 of the world’s 8,000 m. peaks, and in 2017, Sträng will be attempting K2 again. He has worked with charitable organizations through the years to help those in need and has been given various awards including Male Adventurer of the Year twice in 2007 and 2010. Sträng is partnered with Sigma Technology. To learn more about Sträng, read “Get to Know Climber Fredrik Sträng.”
Read our Dispatches of Fredrik Sträng’s K2017 Expedition here.