I arrived in Islamabad two days ago to the news from Essar and Naiknam at ATP that the Karakoram will be very quiet this season. According to them there are only 25 permits sold to the entire range - including 6, 7 & 8000m peaks! Neither could remember such a slow year. Last year we thought was slow with around 70 permits sold - perhaps the economy, the events in Lahore and the Attabad (Hunza) flood and lake formation have really put second thoughts in peoples minds about coming. The KKH is supposedly in bad shape and the lack of people will be good for the always difficult to get seats on the flight to Skardu.
We are very fortunate to have a full Broad Peak and K2 trip! I must admit that I am looking forward to not so many teams in both base camps, alot of hard work lies ahead but it will make everything much more harmonious, less overcrowding at the camps and the possibility for all teams to come together for parties during the down time.
There are some old friends returning this summer and I cant wait to see them. I head to Skardu tomorrow to finalize all of the organization, luckily leaving the duty of getting the permits to Chris, my co leader at Field Touring Alpine this summer, when he arrives with the members in a couple of days - as our liason officer has not reported for duty yet.
Another Karakoram season is underway! I am psyched, 10 days rest between Makalu base camp and Skardu is enough time off mountains it turns out. It was great to spend long dinners and lunches with friends in Thamel. It was especially nice to see some people after they had been helicoptered off Makalu and see the frostbite was not as bad as originally suspected, celebrate with Tunc (congratulations again!) and friends from other mountains. luckily I will get a couple of weeks rest between the Karakoram and the Autumn season on Cho Oyu (finilize your bookings with Stu soon)!
I will be updating frequently from Broad Peak and K2 as we have figured out the email glitch with the PDA, so check back frequently and wish us luck!