Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fredrik Ericsson K2 and Laila Peak Ski Expedition 2009

This summer, Swedish extreme skier Fredrik Ericsson will embark on his dream of becoming the first person to ski the world’s three highest mountains: Mount Everest, K2 and Kangchenjunga.
Last Sunday, the Swedish extreme skier Fredrik Ericsson have reached Pakistan with his Italian friend Michele Fait to try to climb and ski the world’s second highest mountain K2 (8612m).
The expedition started on May 30 when he flyed to Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. They want to spend a few days in the city for meetings with the Pakistan Alpine club to organize climbing permit and with his trekking agency Karakurum Magic Mountain (KMM). KMM helps them with all the logistics in Pakistan and will set them up with a base camp team that will cook food for Michele and Fredrik when they are in base camp.
From Islamabad they have a one hour flight up north to Skardu, the last town before they hit the mountains. Skardu is his last opportunity to pick up gear and food that they need for the two months stay in the mountains. Epi gas for Primus stoves, chips and chocolate bars are some of the things they will buy in Skardu. From Skardu a five hours drive takes them to the small village of Hushe at the end of the road. From there on they will continue on foot. Around June 6 they start the two days trek towards Laila Peak.
Laila Peak is one of the most beautiful mountains in Pakistan - if not the world -with its summit forming a perfect needle shape. The peak is synonymous with its northwest face which drops down the mountains at almost uniform gradient forming a giant ramp. Its northern and eastern sides consist of contrasting steep granite. The mountain is located east of the Gondogoro glacier and west of the Chogolisa Glacier in the Masherbrum Mountains of Baltistan. Most people have set eyes on the peak after crossing the Gondogoro La from Concordia.
The first ascent was by a four man British team including Simon Yates, Sean Smith and Mark Miller who climbed the peak in 1987 via the west face from the Gondogoro Glacier. Simon Yates dedicated a chapter in his book The Flame of Adventure on the ascent of Laila Peak.
With approximately 1500m ascent the mountain can be climbed in alpine style in one day but many people will choose to bivi on route then summit and descend on the second day. Climbing is mid-grade with an inclination of no more than 55 degrees.
In 2005 Fredrik Ericsson and Jörgen Aamot made two attempts to climb and ski the northwest face of Laila Peak. On both occasions the top section was too icy to ski so they turned around at 5950m and skied down to the Gondogoro Glacier (4500m). Until this day no one has skied from the summit of Laila Peak.
This summer they will spend about two weeks on Laila Peak. It will be the perfect warm-up for K2 and hopefully they can ski from the summit this time.
K2 is the second highest mountain in the world and is located on the border between China and Pakistan. Reinhold Messner called K2 the "Mountain of Mountains" after his ascent in 1979. This pyramid of a mountain is right in the heart of the Karokoram Range and can be seen in its entirety from Concordia. It is at the head of the Godwin Austin Glacier which unites with a second glacier at Concordia to form the famous Baltoro Glacier. It is said to be the ultimate climb, since many consider it to be much more technically challenging than Mount Everest.
The name K2 is derived from the notation used by the Great Trigonometric Survey. On 10 September 1856, Thomas Montgomerie made the first survey of the Karakoram from Mount Haramukh, some 130 miles to the south, and sketched the two most prominent peaks, labeling them K1 and K2. In 1954 the Italians Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni were the first to summit K2. They climbed the Abruzzi ridge. After the 2008 season K2 has been climbed 298 times but so far no one has managed to make a complete ski descent of K2.
K2 is known as the Savage Mountain due to the difficulty of ascent and the high fatality rate among those who climb it. For every four people who have reached the summit, one has died trying. Among the eight-thousanders, K2 has the second highest climbing mortality rate.
After Laila Peak Fredrik and Michele will arrive at K2 base camp around June 20. Then they will use about three weeks for acclimatization before they try for the summit. The route they will try to climb and ski is called The Cesen Route and is the south-southeast ridge.