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Alan Arnette on K2
#38976 07/25/14 02:16 AM
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If you're like me and spend each May watching the updates out of the Everest spring climbing season, you were disappointed this year. The Khumbu Icefall avalanche that tragically killed 16 Sherpas essentially shut down the southern Everest season before it got started.

So I'm living Himalaya-vicariously this summer through Alan Arnette's blog of his K2 expedition. If you're not aware, K2 is the second highest peak in the world at 28.2K'. It's in Pakistan, in the Karakorum, and is regarded as much, much more dangerous than Everest from a deaths-to-summits ratio. It has definitely earned it's nickname of "the savage mountain." Only Annapurna, I believe, has a higher kill-to-success ratio among the world's 8000-meter peaks.

Anyway, Alan has completed the weeks-long acclimation rotation and is currently at Camp 2 on the final ascent. He expects to try for the summit on the 27th, Sunday. Very few Americans have successfully climbed K2, so this is somewhat of a big deal. Alan has a website and blog where he has been posting dispatches from the expedition daily. If you're interested:

Alan Arnette's K2 Blog

Re: Alan Arnette on K2
Bulldog34 #38979 07/25/14 05:19 AM
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Alan is indeed a respected chronicler of high places.

His website is "official" enough that some details have been used as a reference in a medical journal.

Best wishes on K2

Re: Alan Arnette on K2
Bulldog34 #38980 07/25/14 06:23 AM
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Thank you for sharing the information and the link. I think it's fascinating and I look forward to following his progress. Best wishes for Alan's safety and success.

Re: Alan Arnette on K2
JoB #38983 07/25/14 06:45 AM
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A nice documentary on K2 is the film "The Summit". It details the mountain's challenges and what went wrong in 2008, leaving 11 climbers dead in a controversial aftermath. It's currently available on Netflix (watched it for maybe the fourth time last week).

Re: Alan Arnette on K2
Bulldog34 #38992 07/25/14 08:21 AM
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I just finished reading the book Buried in the Sky, about a K2 climb in 2008 that resulted in 11 deaths. It's a well written book, and refreshing in that it focuses more on the Sherpa and Pakistani climbers than on the Westerners.

One comment in this book confused me, and I meant to ask about it here. On page 101:

"The foreign climbers also had to take their chances: Their lives were uninsurable. Even specialized insurers, such as Patriot Extreme, decline to extend overall coverage to climbers for accidents and deaths above 14,760 feet."

This implies there's some kind of altitude limit on standard life insurance policies - something I'd never heard of. If I'd slipped and fallen to my death while climbing Mt. Whitney, would my life insurance have refused to pay my family?

Re: Alan Arnette on K2
Steve Chamberlin #38996 07/25/14 10:01 AM
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Normally a life insurance policy will have a non-contestability clause which gives the insurance a defined period of time where it can contest payment of a claim. But after that period of time, payment is "automatic".

So essentially, an insurance company could contest a payment for a recent life insurance policy you bought just before undertaking a risky activity but older policies will probably be un-contestable.

Of course, this all depends on your specific policy. But since Whitney is below 14,760 you should be okay ;-)

Re: Alan Arnette on K2
Steve Chamberlin #38999 07/25/14 10:46 AM
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Steve, another good one is The Last Step - the story of the first American ascent of K2. This wasn't till 1978, which speaks volumes about the difficulty.

Re: Alan Arnette on K2
Bulldog34 #39006 07/25/14 12:21 PM
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I've seen The Summit as well as read Buried in the Sky, which are interesting to compare because they're both about the same event. Both were good, but I thought the book did a better job with the story, and it has a different focus.

The central characters in the book are Chhiring Dorje and Pasang Lama, and there are several chapters about their experiences prior to K2. One of the key passages in the book tells how Chhiring tied Pasang to his harness and used his axe to lower them both through a long dangerous section, after an avalanche destroyed the ropes and Pasang lost his axe. In the movie they're are both very minor characters, and the incident where Chhiring lowered them both isn't even mentioned.

The book also underscored the cultural and language difficulties the groups faced. For example, the Pakastani and Sherpa climbers on the advance team that was supposed to set the ropes did not share any common language. Due to misunderstandings they didn't bring enough rope, and then set rope in easier sections that didn't need it, eventually running out before reaching the top. This caused major delays, which was the main reason everyone else reached the summit so late and had to descend in the dark.

Both the movie and the book did a good job of eliminating any desire I might have had to climb K2 or any similar mountain. :-) But they're interesting to learn about.

Thanks, I'll check out The Last Step as well.

Re: Alan Arnette on K2
Steve Chamberlin #39007 07/25/14 12:45 PM
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Just to add to the insurance comments, this time not life but medical/evacuation insurance: many policies limit coverage to below trailhead, below 10,000 ft or other low limits, or even limit to medical issues like broken legs and heart attacks but not high altitude illnesses. Read the fine print. Standard policies do this, so if you get a $ 45 standard medical evacuation policy for your trip to K2 it will cover nothing. Full coverage will cost much more.

As for K2 books, nothing compares to Charles Houston's well written book . 1953. The famous Art Gilkey story. Title: K2. The Savage Mountain

Last edited by Harvey Lankford; 07/25/14 12:49 PM.
Re: Alan Arnette on K2
Steve Chamberlin #39012 07/25/14 04:19 PM
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I'll do the same with Buried in the Sky. Like you, I enjoy the Himalaya climbing literature (just can't seem to get enough of the Mallory/Irvine story), but would never try one - even if it was affordable, which it certainly ain't. I like having 10 fingers and toes. Oh yeah - and living too.

The movie really concentrates heavily on Ger McDonnnell and his disappearance at the expense of the other 10 who died, such as the Nepalese climbers. Very little mention of them other than the roping snafu. It did give me a good visual of the mountain, though - especially the Bottleneck and that monster serac.

And Harvey, really, I intend to get the Houston book as well as the Tasker omnibus. A great many of your quotes seem to come from Tasker's literature. The problem is they're all out of print and second-hand prices are a bit lofty since they've become collectibles. I may have to settle for Kindle editions for some of them, but I prefer a solid, real book.

Re: Alan Arnette on K2
Bulldog34 #39013 07/25/14 06:19 PM
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Re: Alan Arnette on K2
Ken #39031 07/25/14 10:56 PM
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I've been following Alan Arnette since Kurt Wedberg's most recent Mt. Everest summit. I was bummed to hear Alan was going to attempt summiting K2. That mountain scares me. In 2013 a Peak Freaks Mt. Everest guide/leader named Marty died on K2 along with his son. I don't care how experienced a climber is that mountain and the weather on it is a killer. I would be deeply sadened if anything happened to Alan. I hate to check Exploers Web for K2 updates but I still do. I hope Alan achieves the summit and returns to the USA whole and I most of all hope his ego will not get in his way and prevent him from turning around, giving up his summit bid if conditions on the mountain turn for the worst.


Lynnaroo
Re: Alan Arnette on K2
lynn-a-roo #39032 07/26/14 02:05 AM
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Alan is currently at Camp 4 (25.2K') and will be making the summit bid tonight. The plan is to ascend 3000 feet to the summit, then return all the way down to Camp 2. The weather appears stable and avalanches have not been a major factor so far, which is a very good sign. The biggest concern on this next push is the avalanche danger around the Bottleneck serac, which contributed heavily to the 11 climbers lost in 2008, as well as other past expeditions. And, of course, the ever-present trickiness of downclimbing a beast like K2 while cold and exhausted.

Alan sounds strong and confident, which is a relief as he was suffering quite a bit last week during one of the rotations. He was exhibiting doubts at that point, but now appears eager and ready for tonight's marathon.

And tomorrow will be Alan's 58th birthday.

Climb on, Alan!

Last edited by Bulldog34; 07/26/14 06:52 AM. Reason: Added birthday note
Re: Alan Arnette on K2
Ken #39033 07/26/14 02:35 AM
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Originally Posted By: Ken


From a that-couldn't-possibly-happen perspective, I agree with you, Ken. Those two events were so outrageously impossible that even Hollywood wouldn't try to script it. I read Touching the Void years ago and finally saw the movie a few months back. Simpson's matter-of-fact recounting of the ordeal was just amazing. So quintessentially British. His continuing support for Yates cutting the rope is another testament to his character, especially in the face of the controversy it caused.

While Messner's single ordeal on Nanga Parbat didn't have the same unbelievable drama, I think they gave him the number one slot due to what he accomplished afterwards, in toto. In my book, he was the most bad-ass climber ever to set foot on a mountain. Imagine what he might accomplish today with the advances in equipment and techniques.

Re: Alan Arnette on K2
Bulldog34 #39035 07/26/14 09:35 AM
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Tim Ripple owner of Peak Freaks posted that Nepali women successfully summited K2 today. The good weather window seems to be holding. My thoughts and prayers are with Alan and his expedition and all climbers attempting K2. Tim Ripple also follows Alan Arnette so you can get updates on the Peak Freaks website as well.


Lynnaroo
Re: Alan Arnette on K2
Bulldog34 #39036 07/26/14 10:08 AM
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Bulldog, thank you for posting the link to the cracked article, it was exciting to read. Now I have to go watch the YouTube on Simpson on my computer. The Simpson story is amazing.


Lynnaroo
Re: Alan Arnette on K2
lynn-a-roo #39038 07/26/14 10:24 AM
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Actually Lynn, that was Ken's post - I just responded to it. Damn good article.

Re: Alan Arnette on K2
Bulldog34 #39043 07/26/14 04:32 PM
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Gary, thanks for posting the link. Good stuff.

Anyone intrested in mountaineering literature should check out Chessler Books. Good selection of signed copies.

http://www.chesslerbooks.com/cat/43-Guidebooks-Climbing-Hiking-Travel.asp

Gary, I have a copy of the Boardman Tasker Omnibus if you would like to borrow. Plus dozens of other mountaineering books.

As a side note, after reading Messner's The Crystal Horizon I became fascinated with the story of Maurice Wilson. He was an impulsive kook with no mountaineering experience who ... well read a short bit about him here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Wilson

John

Re: Alan Arnette on K2
catpappy #39045 07/26/14 04:50 PM
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John, 2nd the comment on Michael Chessler. I have bought books from him for over 30 years and recently sold him my collection of over 300 mountaineering books that I have gathered in over 55 years of armchair mountaineering expeditions. I had many copies that Harvey quotes and enjoyed revisiting the sources. My wife and I are downsizing as we are in late 70s and the books had to go, along with a lot of camping and climbing gear. I did keep two books signed by Norman Clyde and a couple of ice axes signed by Hillary that Chessler got specially for me.

Chessler is honest, reliable and even has a toll free number so you can get the best service.

Re: Alan Arnette on K2
CMC2 #39058 07/26/14 11:29 PM
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Explorers Web is reporting Alan and his teammates summited approx. 1 hour ago. Congratulations to Alan and may his descent go well.


Lynnaroo
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