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Photo by arch. R. Benet - N. Meroi
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Emergency on K2

02.08.2008 by PlanetMountain

12 mountaineers including Marco Confortola have been forced to bivvy above the Bottleneck due to a serac fall which swept away the fixed ropes. They are currently attempting to descend.

A group of mountaineers is currently experiencing some extremely difficult moments on K2. Marco Confortola and circa ten other mountaineers have been forced to bivvy at circa 8300m due to a serac fall (seemingly from beneath the summit) which swept away their fixed ropes.

The latest information comes from Broad Peak where Mario Panzeri, safely back in base camp after his summit, is observing the situation with his binoculars from Base Camp. He also has information directly from K2 Camp 4 thanks to the brother of Pemba Sherpa who is in radio contact with the sherpa who, together with Cas van de Gevel from Holland, mananged to descend even without the fixed ropes yesterday. Roberto Manni, the other Italian who was involved in the summit push, is also in Camp 4 after having turned back during the ascent.

Circa 9 mountaineers are currently attempting to descend from the Bottleneck without fixed ropes. Two rescue operations were coordinated by the Dutch expedition and launched immediately. The first is a Korean team from Base Camp, while the second includes two Americans and Cas van de Gevel who will attempt to fix ropes on the Bottleneck traverse, renowned for being the hardest on the entire route.

The Italian mountaineer Marco Confortola twice got in contact with Agostino Da Polenza who is following the events on montagna.tv. At circa 01.30 Italian time he communicated that he had been forced to spend the night in a snowhole at circa 8300m together with Wilco van Rooljan from Holland. At dawn this morning (5.30 Pakistan time) he stated that they were well and that they could see two mountaineers ascend from Camp 4.

It's superfluous to say that the situation is very delicate and the information at present is not very precise. There is no concrete news about all mountaineers involved in the summit bid, despite the efforts of the Dutch team coordinating the rescue operations. A bivvy at 8300m and 48 hours on the trot in this situation make things even more difficult than usual on a mountain and at an altitude which, at the best of times, requires the maxiumum. The only positive note is that the weather should remain stable except for winds increasing slightly at altitude.

Yesterday circa 17 mountaineers were attempting the summit, a true "folly". At present we know that
Wilco van Rooijen, Cas van de Gevel and Jelle Staleman from Holland, Gerard McDonnell from Ireland and Pemba Gyalje Sherpa from Nepal reached the summit. A mountaineer from Serbia, his name at present unknown, fell to his death seemingly while attempting the Bottleneck.

All we can do know is wait for things to evolve, knowing full well that an emergency on K2 cannot be resolved entirely in the next few hours: the mountaineers first need to descend to Camp 4 and then to the lower camps. The hope is that in the next few days they will be strong enough and receive help from those who (not without difficulty) might reach them from below.

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