The K2 Base Camp and the Godwen Austen glacier

21082009-fab_2231_confrontoThe first snow comes, and we are therefore forced to postpone our trip to the base camp of K2; the weather conditions are rapidly deteriorating, and certainly we’ll not be able to achieve Sella’s photographs and measurements at the Memorial. From previous measurements and photographic comparisons, it seems that 100 years ago the Godwin Austen glacier was nearly the same height of the Memorial, a small rocky buttresses, the cemetery and place of memory for all the explorers who have lost their lives on K2 or Broad Peak.

The next day we wake up at six as always; I slip out from my sleeping bag, the pressure is low and the thermometer marks -7 ° C. I suspect that today will be bad weather; however, when I pull my head out of  the tent, sunlight is blinding me! Contrary to what I was expecting the weather is good, with a few clouds on the Payu Peak. I quickly call Pino, Paolo and Hassan, and quickly prepare everything necessary for the two days needed for the trip and return to base camp on K2. The height difference to overcome is not huge, from 4650 meters at Concordia camp to 5050 meters at K2 base camp, but the path is long, nearly 12 km. Slowed by numerous moraines, we spend 7 hours to cover the route. Just arrived we assemble our tents and help our carriers to build a shelter with the mass that will allow everyone to eat, and will be their refuge to spend the night.

Meanwhile, the weather conditions return to deteriorate: during the night will fall about 30 cm of snow! The weather is really bad, it’s snowing and windy, but despite everything the next morning we can carry out topographical surveys, in the Memorial area, both by GPS and with the metric tape for data to be used as a backup; the data collected will then post-processed and integrated into a GIS (Geographic Information System) with what has already been collected and studied by Prof. Smiraglia.

Subsequently, with the help of a reproduction of an image by Vittorio Sella, I move away from Memorial directly to the place where the Duke of Abruzzi in 1909 established a base camp. As already noted in the high Baltoro, I known immediately that the changes are not so relevant, and after wandering among the moraines I can find the exact spot. But there is something wrong: the point of view is definitely the right one, but to achieve the same picture I should raise a few dozen meters. This probably means that the glacier in this area has fallen compared to the past. Unfortunately the weather continues to deteriorate, and after taking the shots I manage to go back quickly to the camp, to arrange the return.

We arrive back to Concordia after walking in thick snow, just in time for a grand lightened: the clouds go away and give us a beautiful sunset, with a crystal light obviously be immortalized.


  1. Marcella Legnani
    Aug 27, 2009

    Le foto raccontano un’esperienza fantastica e oltre a quella presentano un paesaggio stupendo! A quanto vedo le temperature sono piuttosto basse.Buon ritorno e per la centesima volta C-O-M-P-L-I-M-E-N-T-I ! saluti Marcella Legnani.

  2. Laura
    Aug 29, 2009



    (commenti tardivi, ma nn sempre si riesce a scrivere
    sotto l’impatto dell’emozione,
    e poi si ritorna a guardare e a guardare e
    a leggere e leggere,
    e foto e report sembrano sempre nuovi)

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