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Friday, June 24


Hamburger Hill - Base camp of Gasherbrums ( 5000 m)

Gasherbrums' base camp
Gasherbrums' base camp

Yesterday, June 23, we arrived at Gasherbrum b.c., ten days after leaving Italy. On Wednesday 22, we continued well beyond Concordia up to Smaqring, an intermediate camp at an altitude of 4700 m. From there, the b.c of Gasherbrums is less than three hours of walking along the Upper Baltoro. And so yesterday, early in the morning, we left to get to the base. Adrian made it in 2 hours, I in two forty. In total, I marched for about 24 hours over the last 7 days to reach b.c. (Adriano 21 hours). Just arrived, fortunately without any headaches worthy of note, we immediately started working to prepare the plots for of our tents on the huge moraine of the glacier at Abruzzi's heart. With the last two stages, we were able to make up for the days spent in Paju, respecting the date established by Gerfried. This "all in one" made one victim, Captain Haziz. Perhaps not everyone knows that every expedition to the Baltoro must be accompanied by an officer, known as the Liaison Officer. The expedition must pay him a substantial allowance in addition to supply a complete equipment for the climb and provide board and lodging. Officer's task is to guide and monitor the expedition and - if he wants to - he can climb to the summit. In practice, they select young officers who often have never set foot in height. The most likely outcome is that many military suffer from altitude sickness and are forced to return prematurely for health reasons. So it was this time, plus a curious misfortune to our captain, that looks a bit like the Dantesque law of retaliation. The good Haziz, however young, has proved himself up to Gore II. The officer proceeded boldly, demanding compliance with all the prerogatives of his role and level: personal tent with mattress, table service and other amenities. The organization, alas, did not provide a mattress for the captain and, as a result of his remarks, the fate touched one of us, in this case Adriano, who had to give him his own: unfortunately, it was expected that the climbers had to manage, given the lack of these mats. You have to know that Adriano is suffering from back pain (even heroes have an Achilles' heel) and you can imagine how happy he handed to the captain what he conquered with difficulty (I luckily had with me my own air mattress). The next day, in Concordia, however, the captain suddenly decided to stop and not proceed further, for headache and - perhaps - other intestinal ailments. So far the facts. I wonder if the thoughts of Adri have played a role on the indisposition of the officer, neverthelss a nice and courteous person when deprived of the role. Like many other mysteries of life, we'll never know.

Mario, Silvano e Guido at Hamburger Hill
Mario, Silvano e Guido at Hamburger Hill

Upon arrival at the base, we thought to find the plots for tents already prepared by some members of the organization, arrived here more than a month ago for this task. Instead, because of those two loafers, badly taken by Gerfried (I rarely saw him raise his voices), we had to arrange, with the aggravating circumstance that the best positions had already been occupied by a Polish expedition. Perched on a steep hill slopes of the moraine, we dug the sides like only the Hobbits of Hobbiton are able to do. Unfortunately, the summit of the hill has been denied us by a haughty Miss Poland, which called itself the entire portion of the height summit, due to privacy (!!). Mario, who arrived last at base camp, has to sustain objections for the plot over the top by Miss Inflexible, all after one hour of hard digging under a murderous sun. Mario did not, however, remained silent, vowing terrible vengeance: "The question does not end here. Tomorrow I'm going to attack and this will become a novel Hamburger Hill, beyond comparison with the conquest of G1 ...". The usual rowdy and insatiable Italians, you'll say. For his part, Gerfried, informed about events, washed his hands under the pretext that as Mario does not yet have a tent (Ali's organization has several things to be forgiven) he could not hold a plot too close to Polish camp. The affair threatened to escalate into a diplomatic incident. Unfortunately, our faction has no longer an officer (see above, when you need them, they are not there) and an expedition leader, busy with other matters, was in danger of being in a position of inferiority. Mario Vielmo, proving to be a good tactician, he improvised a strategic retreat, promising that he will come back to attack as soon as his tent arrives... For the time being Silvano offered him hospitality...


Side note: the friend of the pissed Pole apologized for the behaviour of her partner, adding that the altercation was excessive due to the personality a bit "disturbed" of the girl. What a pity! A bad start with the beautiful neighbouring Poles, and all because of "the handsome boy" of the group, the old Mario. So far the amenities. The day after tomorrow, assuming they get all our bins with the technical stuff, we will go up to camp 1 with our Austrian mates, and spend the night there. Inshallah.


Now, at the b.c. of Gasherbrum there are: a Korean expedition for the G2, a Swiss expedition of 6 members (leader Kari Kobler) always for the G2, a micro-Italian expedition organized by ATP of 2 people from Trentino, Giampaolo Corona from Primiero accompanied by a friend and the "mythical" Santiago, an old Ecuadorian acquaintance who for years attended the Baltoro's b.c., hopping from an expedition to another. Then there are 5 Poles encamped on the "hill of the meat grinder" above us. Two more expeditions are expected in the coming days: that Mario Panzeri from Lecco (here to fulfil the dream of his thirteenth 8000), accompanied by stainless Alberto Magliano, both for the G1. Finally, it should arrive an expedition from Modena for the G2. Breaking news: our Iranian friend Leila Esfandiari (I met her last year during the expedition to K2) will attempt G1 summer with two Iranian friends. Their sirdar informed me that today they should be in Skardu and they will arrive on July 4 or 5. But that's enough about the other teams, in the future, I will update you about the two real Basque stars who are with us, veterans of El filo del lo Imposible: José Tamayo and Alex Trixon... à suivre


Saturday, June 25


We are about to leave for Camp 1. The trekkers have arrived, look great and are happy. But the highlight update is about Mario ... with the decisive help of Gerfried against the hostile officer, he won his battle... Now is the happy owner of a castle perched on top of the hill.


Monday, July 27 

Base Camp

Adriano and our tent at C1
Adriano and our tent at C1
Adriano going up the Gasherbrum glacier
Adriano going up the Gasherbrum glacier

We're back to base camp: yesterday, June 26, all 24 climbers spent the night at C1 (5850 m). Why 24 and not 25? Unfortunately, I must record that Guido did not climb with us. Not feeling in top form since his arrival at b.c., he decided to go back home taking advantage of the return of the hiking group. My advice was to wait at least a week and then decide calmly what to do, but the departure of his trekkers friends, Maurizio and Ugo, has tipped the scales in favor of an early return. But let me reassure his family: Stefan, the doctor of the expedition, confirmed that Guido's health is good. His choice was mostly dictated by a not perfect psychophysical condition. I didn't tell anything before because I was informed only this morning of his departure. I can add that, showing great generosity, Guido has left us his personal food. Thanks Guido for sharing this experience with us. The climb to C1 was not exactly a walk: 5 to 6 hours of climbing (tied in rope) through a labyrinthine glacier much more tormented and crevassed than I remembered the last time I was here, exactly ten summers ago. This morning, at dawn, the return has been hampered both by fog and deep soft snow. A light snow (fortunately for us, the first one since we left Askole, ten days ago) completed the picture ... but man's memory is selective: it removes soon unpleasant sensations to make way for good memories. Otherwise we would be condemned to immobility, crushed by the hard work of making.


Tuesday, June28

First snow at Gasherbrums' base camp

Meeting inter-expeditions in our mess tent
Meeting inter-expeditions
in our mess tent
Nicola, Maurizio snd Annalisa

Nicola, Maurizio snd Annalisa

After several consecutive days full of good weather, last night a light snowfall has whitewashed the bc. In the next days are expected major precipitations, and we will take advantage to go up on Thursday to C1 and maybe even establish camp 2 on Gasherbrum La, 6400 m, on Friday. Then the weather is expected to worsen significantly. It's plenty of snow at high altitude, combined with high temperatures, which entails an advanced hard when the thin ice crust does not hold the weight and collapses to out knees at every new step. A possible strategy to make the advance less tiring is to leave early, when the snow is not yet hit by the rays of the sun. In recent days, nighttimes temperatures at C1 were only slightly below zero. This lack of refreezing makes unstable the snow bridges and it is risky to proceed on the very crevassed Gasherbrum glacier, especially in the afternoon. So far the technical weather, a bit boring and dedicated to professionals. In terms of new expeditions now the picture is complete. Just after the mini and fierce Japanese expedition with two Nepalese sherpas, it's arrived at cb the Italian expedition organized by Nazir Sabir Exp. Among the members, Mario Panzeri, returning from the Kanchenjunga and undertaking G1. Alberto Magliano, his mentor, is here for G2, assisted by Ali, an high altitude porter, as well as 4 of my Emilian fellow countrymen Nicola Campani(leader and mountain rescue), Massimo Ruffini, Fabrizio Silvetti and Samuele Sentieri, all of them from Apennines near Castelnuovo Monti. The fifth member of this expedition is a medical doctor from Milan, Annalisa Fioretti, here for G2. The last expedition expected is that of Leila Esfandiari with two friends, assisted by a pair of high altitude porters. Some of their carriers arrived today with the materials, and it seems that the other members will come to cb on July 4. Currently, here at b.c. of Gasherbrums, there are expeditions of 7 different nationalities: one Chinese from Hong Kong (not Korean, as I erroneously reported earlier), one Swiss, two Italians, one Polish-Ukrainian Joint Committee, one Japanese and the Gerfried Goschl's International to which I belong (Austrian -Italo-Canadian-Swiss-Basque-British). Many of the members of these expeditions are allowed for both Gasherbrums.


Please note that DISCLAIMER: The information above is provided for the sole purpose of this blog to chronicle, based on items collected directly or indirectly by me, and verified as far as possible. There is no claim to completeness and/or accuracy. Those who chose to use them elsewhere, they do it under their his sole responsibility.



CAI Bologna

Con il patrocinio del Club Alpino Italiano

Sezione di Bologna Mario Fantin