A message from Ruben’s partner Cami:
He was safe at Base Camp but it was very difficult to hear what he was telling me, the phone reception was bad. I knew the team was safe and that was really all that mattered.
I also knew if he was calling me from Base Camp that meant that they were finished with this expedition as this was the last weather window available this climbing season.
Later in the call I was able to hear that there was a large avalanche that came from Camp 4 all the way through Camp 3 (this was where they were intended to be on this day, but I later saw in his sherpas post that the weather got bad that day and they stayed at Camp 2 one more night) this decision saved their lives and all other teams as well!
They sent sherpas up to Camp 3 after the avalanche to check for gear, tents, and fixed lines/rope that they had already placed up there and it was all gone.
This year there will be no summits on K2 and all teams are coming home safe.
It has been an incredibly difficult journey but we finish on the most positive note, all climbers are safe and that is success!
Update 25 July : Nanga Summit. GII attempt underway. Broad Peak over. K2 BC emptying. Independents give up also – no K2 summits for 2nd year in row due to weather and snow conditions.
A large avalanche reported on 23 July, 2016 on K2 has destroyed tents, buried fixed ropes and swept way the cache of food and oxygen bottles at Camp 3. There were no injuries or fatalities reported. While not 100% certain, it appears for the second year in a row no one will make the top.
While most climbers on the large commercial teams and a few independents stayed safely at Camps 1 and 2, several reports said 25 Sherpas were on their way to fix ropes to Camp 4 when they found the destruction. It was at this same location in 2013 that professional mountain guide Marty Schmidt and his son Denali were killed while sleeping in their tent at Camp 3 by an avalanche. All the other teams that year had descended fearing such an event.
Camp 3 is perched on a steep slope just above the top of the Black Pyramid but a few hundred meters lower where the relentless angle of K2 finally lets up for a short distance thus serving as a perch for High Camp or C4. Camp 3 is usually located at 24,000 feet or 7,315 meters – still a long way from the summit.
K2 has always been tough, thus one reason so few attempt it. From 1986 to 2015, there were 11 years with no summits. From 2009 to 2015, there were only three years with summits – 2011 only from the Chinese side, and 2012 and 2014 each with between 30 – 50 people summiting – record breaking years as a result of a week of excellent and rare summit conditions. Everest went from 1974 to 2014 with summits every year – 40 straight years!