Khurdopin Glacier, July 5th
It was well into night when I reached the remote valley of Shimshal, 3,100m above sea level, after a two-day drive over precarious, dusty mountain roads. In the dark, I took in a long breath and almost heard my thoughts out loud. Late at night, late in so many ways, but after eight years, I was finally here.
Delayed by bad weather around K2, I hadn’t been able to join the research team on the Khurdopin Glacier for their anticipated fieldwork. I could only imagine the challenges the team had faced as Sergiu and I were the only ones with significant mountaineering experience. Jeremy and Ronald, although excellent trekkers, lacked the technical skills to tackle the complex terrain on the Khurdopin Glacier and I wondered if they had been forced to remain at base camp – or, worse, had gone on and attempted to cross the very difficult glacier. The climbing season had already started and I knew that there would be a shortage of porters in the valley. Fortunately, a Pakistani guide I had recently met in Skardu managed to find a middle-aged man, Amir, who agreed to join me the next morning. Midnight came and, after finalising the remaining details, I had five hours to sleep and repack food and camping gear for the coming fortnight. I needed to get to my team.