Sunday, 31 May 2009

So close yet so far

It is an unreal feeling to be back in Himalaya after 17 years of absence. Today I'm sitting and looking up the Baltoro Glacier and it makes me almost euphoric. The shear size of the Trang Groupe and all surrounding peaks is just unreal. There are outstanding lines and projects on every peak I can see. The expedition has not even kicked off yet and still I'm super exited about what the future holds in its hands. It will be ups and downs and for sure disappointments but if you don’t go out and take a shoot at your dream routes nothing will ever happen. The weather so far has been great so a mental note is to be on the go early June next time around. Our expedition leader Bruce Normand and trekking agent ATP has done a superb job getting the logistics together for this trip.

For me all this is new and far from what I expected. Last time around for me it was quite minimalist in comparison to this expedition and yet we are a small 5 man team aiming to go light. With our 90 porters that can feel contradictive but we are about to spend 8 weeks trying to set up a new route on Gasherbrum 4 and I think we will need the time. To give you a point of reference the Russian K2 West Face Expedition had 700 porters to BC.

What is nice about an early start is that there is little litter and no one else on the trek so we have all camps to ourselves. In a few weeks the area will be swamped with trekking groups and expeditions all fighting for a tent spot in the shade. Our LO and cooking team is just outstanding so we might not lose that much weight after all... Well we will see about that. The comfort of modern Himalaya climbing is great and it helps a lot not to be bothered with logistics, porter negotiations and general hassle. We walk, eat and get mentally prepared for what is to come on the mountain and spend lots of time having a great time sharing stories.

Well in a few days we will be in BC and then we will get a sense of snow conditions and the look of the route. Last but most important I would like to extend my sincere condolences to Sergey Samoilov who tragically lost his life on the Lothse Everest traverse. All of us at the G4 expedition where deeply saddened by this tragic loss of a great climber.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Almost like vacation!

On our way to Askole by Jeep, we were held up a day due to a landslide. Parts of the road had been washed out and needed to be rebuilt before we could continue. This is normal for the season - it is still spring up here in the north east of Pakistan and very warm. So warm that for a minute you think you are on some sort of holiday. This feeling intensifies when we stop for meals and are invited into the main tent where our absolutely amazing chef Imran has prepared the most delicious dishes!

We have 90 carriers, each carrying 25 kilos. They do a great job in their plastic sandals. Makes me feel a bit stupid with real shoes and light back pack…

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Nanga Parbat from the air...

The adventure has begun! We caught a first glimpse of what is ahead of us when flying past Nanga Parbat on our way from Islamabad to Askole. What a stunning and beautiful mountain!

We have now put on our trekking shoes and left Askole for a week’s march. We estimate to reach the Base Camp on 5 200 meter June the 2nd. Everyone is feeling great and so far things are working as planned.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Show Time on Gasherbrum III and IV!

The "official" Expedition blog will now start running with news and updates. All members will update with there thoughts. The activity on the blog will depend on where on the mountain we are. If tech works out we will be able to post text, video, voice and still shoots.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Soonish... Is G4 too much? Or is too much never enough?

Hunza Peak 6270 Swedish FA in 1991 in alpine style

Well friends soon I will leave the bolted paradise of southern France and head out to the real world. The Himalayas where real alpinism happens. I have spent two winters preparing for this outing. In September of 2007 I had not climbed ONE meter in 14 year. Yes not one meter. Between 1986 and 1994 I climbed almost full time but the tragic loss of so many great and loved friends made me take a long break from climbing. Then one day in September of 2007 I bought a pair of La Sportiva Mythos and went "sport" climbing. This shit was new to me. I grew up trad climbing and this bolted stuff was a strange encounter. I started climbing with a teacher from school who brought us out a day to HIS (Vardkaseberget) self develop cliff. I don't know what I expected but not a 12 meter cliff. The cliff was located south of Stockholm in Sweden. And one of the greatest inspirations of my climbing life was Lars-Ake Swartz my high school teacher. At the cliff I was hugely disappointed but as the day unfolded I like it. My friends where super exited about the new cool sport but I was reluctant.

I wanted a MOUNTAIN not a cliff. Later that summer I was off to Kobenekaise 2217 m and the crown Jewel in Sweden as its the highest peak in Sweden. I was equipped with a pair of Makalu Extrem a double leather boot good for real MOUNTAINS. A slight overkill... Well it was fun I felt like a real alpinist. But better I meet a Swedish alpine pioneer Mr. Per-Elof Lidstrom. He was a bit of a legend and I was listening like a kid at christmas eve to his stories. I was transfixed from that day and lucky for me he kind of took me under his wings and thought me climbing. I started off cleaning his aid routes and then I brought me Ice climbing in the north of Sweden with legend Frasse Ficher. I re visited Frasse with Andy Cave in the late 90th on a slide show tour. This was the start of my winter climbing activities.

In 1989 I was off to Pakistan on my first Himalaya Expedition. At 18 this was kind of a shake up... Quite different from suburbia. My dearest friend Tomas Weber (UIAGM Guide and Bank owner) was with me on this trip and we had a blast apart from quite bad snow conditions. I think we where in way over our heads but it was great for Swedish alpinism so who gives a shit if we failed I know we inspired lots of friends to go to Himalaya. In 89 when this expedition happened it was the first alpine style effort by Swedish climbers in Himalaya. No royal protection in the shape of the King as patron, no big sponsor and no guys with grey hair from the army...

I was back in 91 and scored big as a leader of at 10 man strong expedition to Shani 5885, Hunza Peak 6270 and Bubelemutting 6000. We toped out two out of three and made a FA of Hunza Peak via a new route in alpine style. It was the beginning of the end for me. In 1993 our dear friend Daniel Bidner died decending from K2. It was to much for me. I had lost about 5 true and real friends to mountains and I had not finished University and just lost my virginity... Politics and work was a resort of comfort far from suffering and pain. But as a friend said: "you meet every one twice and life tend to go backwards"... So In 2007 I was back at square one. It was great and in a few weeks I was doing 7a:s and I started to think about alpinism. In feb 2008 I topped out the Colton-Brooks in 12h and the Cecinell-Nomine and I was back in the game.

Now I'm 100 per cent back at where it all started. I'm off to uncharted territory in Pakistan trying to pull off a super ambitious plan of summitting G3 7952 and G4 7925 both via new routes in Alpine Style. One is quite a big bite to chew off TWO is huge! It can even be too much but then again too much is never enough. I have never managed to do any thing with moderation in life so why start now? This will be a great summer and a huge adventure but I will miss the number one Swedish Alpinist Krister Jonson. I care if we summit G4 that is our main target, but my life is not depending on this summit so I have a casual approach to this epic venture. My ego is big but summits bigger so in the end its about adaptation, not ambition. That's why I despise O2 and fixed ropes and trade routes on 8000 meter peaks. There is thousands of new possibilities to try your skills on in Himalaya why summit Everest or Makalu with O2 and think you have archived any thing worth reporting?

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Power Breakfast

I have made my own power breakfast with oatmeal, almonds, raisins and chocolate recovery drink made by PowerBar. I have made 35 of this in small plastic bags, some for high altitude and some for BC all well marked. I have also bought about 150 different chocolate / PowerBars of different brands all to power me. I have tested different Isotonic drinks and decided to go for a berry taste from PowerBar. Then I have got some pre fabricated mix for chocolate cakes in a semi liquid form. We will see if I can prepare this one in BC and maintain my fat belly. Right now I stuff my self with cookies and chocolate in order to get as fat as possible and at the same time maintaining some kind of fitness level...

I have also made endless tests of gear and packing lists as well as maintaing gear and equipment in order to be sure it will all be in great condition for some real action. I have talked to a number of friends who have vast experience from technical climbing at high altitude in order to figure out what is the best possible formula when it comes to dressing for altitude action. I will have a synthetic option and a down option. For sure is that I will use a custom made PHD Delta Belay Jacket with 900 down above 7000 meters. I will post a full pack list later on. I will go for a standard PHD Hispar 600 bag that weights in at 1010g!

Finally I have manage to convert my MSR reactor stove to be a hanging one pice unit adding about 20g. Pictures will follow. If any one is interested I can provide advice on how to build a hanging Reactor unit. My solution for fixing the gas bottle is super smart if you only need that and not the hanging option.