Monday, June 15, 2009

In Skardu

Hi everyone!
So Isaiah managed to e-mail some of us with some pretty exciting and interesting updates. I will just copy and paste the important stuff. Enjoy!

Well we made it to Skardu last night after two days on the KKH (karakorum highway) 18 hours the first day and 10 hours the second. It was very scenic but there was also a lot of time on virtually one lane roads that had been blasted into the side of the cliff. Like 3/4 of a tunnel and there were hundreds even over a thousand feet of vertical or vertical enough that you wouldn't stop until the Indus River. Speaking of the Indus river it is huge! Everything here is huge the mountains just seem steeper and taller than anything in the states.

So most of the group here is British and the rest seem to be Austrialian or some other country where they happen to speak really good english. More than once in the past several days I've ended up sitting at a table as the only American, and also the only one that hasn't summitted Everest. In fact, the other day there were 4 everest summitters and I sitting at a table after we ate and they were talking about how let down they were after Everest. How it was easy enough to use a treking pole the whole way up. That's why a lot of them are here, they are looking for something more challenging. It's great being part of a joint BP/K2 expedition because everyone is so experienced and there is a level of seriousness and experience that I feel is very rare even on 8000 meter peaks. I mean we've got Tunc (pronounced Tun-ch) who has 5 summits over 8000 meters, Fabritzio who's been on K2 3 times and Nanga Parbat once and I think Everest and everything else. He spent 84 days in Antartica and climbed 11 new big wall routes (a big wall usually means aid climbing, portaledges, and in the range of 3000 feet). I would mention the websites of my fellow climbers but I don't know them. Anyway Jake Meyer, Amy Beetom, Tunc Findik, and Wim Smets (Click this link for Smets page in English) probably have their own websites and I know Fabritzio has his own blog on Blogger. (Berea look these up and the others on this expedtions climbing BP or K2 and make a post on my blog with the links to each of their websites or blogs) Also Dave something is making a documentary and I'm going to try to help by giving him footage from my camera and hopefully carting his 6.5 pound huge camera part way up BP to get some shots of K2.

It's a riot hanging out with the British because they just make jokes all the time and have these crazy accents. Basically, we're always making jokes, sorting out the differences between the different English speaking cultures (making jokes), or talking about mountains. I pretty much laughed my way up the KKH.

We haven't been close to any violence except we were 80 km drive from the Swat valley (essentially the other side of the mountain but a 3 hour drive) and there is fighting there. There was a lot of security in that area and we had a police escourt for like 9 hours changing out police every 20-30 minutes. We also followed an army tank on a trailer up the road. Actually there is a much smaller presence of guns than I expected. None of the civilians carry guns except the guards in banks. I have not seen any other countries militarys either. the Pakistani army seems quite organized and serious.

Today I bought a tradition Pakistani shirt and pants and hat. All for about 7.50 dollars. Everything is really cheap here. Gas is 56 ruppees to the liter (80 ruppees to the dollar and 3.8 liters to the gallon).

The response people have when I tell them this is my first expedition is quite astonished. BP is probably harder than Everest they say. But everyone is very supportive. I explain basically why I made the leap and they understand. I wanted harder than Denali, Aconcagua, or Cho Oyu and is I'm going to take a month off why not two months? I was asking Fabritzio for advice last night about expeditions last night and he said "get out now, otherwise you'll end up washed up and single like me" later I told him I had started aid climbing this year and he said "get out now" then I asked him about having a company to make climbing gear because he used to make climbing clothing and he said "ok now everything I tell you about starting a company take that, and do the opposite and you'll end up successful". In the British side of things there has been an ongoing discussion the last few days of "wassup" and the propper response being "not much". It's pretty hularious seeing the brits or whoever try to have an american accent and fail misserably but you can hear enough of a change that it's very funny. If the whole expedition is this fun it's going to be great! The food is really good too. Today about two hours ago I had the best tea I'ev ever had (The three Everest summitters Amy, Wim and Will ( I think his name is will he's on K2 only from England) thought that was some statement. Amy in particular was like "that's very profound". But I don't drink tea much. The mango is excellent as well.

I love telling people I'm from the USA they step back and kind of try to comprehend that. Most Americans say they are from Canada or something. Anyway it's quite safe (aside from the painted "USA and Isreal is real terrorists") and when I start to wear the local clothes with my beard I shall look quite local.

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