Pakistan wrap-up: BP summit push, Serap Jangbu for his 12th and 13th
( “Off to the summit – six days at the most,” read an SMS from Ludo Giambasi yesterday. Ludo, Eli and Antoine brought along their satphone so stay tuned for further reports from the Broad Peak summit push.

Serap Jangbu Sherpa's 14x8000ers climbing plan

Climbing with Philippe Gatta and sharing Altitude Junkies’ logistic, Nepalese Serap Jangbu Sherpa is back in Pakistan hoping to become the first Sherpa 14x8000er summiteer.

With 11 8000+meter summits bagged, Serap is now heading for Broad Peak and GI. Should he succeed, he would have only Nanga Parbat to go – a goal he plans to attempt in 2010, according to ExWeb correspondent in Islamabad Karrar Haidri.

“I am the first Nepali climber to summit all 8000+ meters peaks in Nepal,” Serap told Karrar. “I am also the first Nepali citizen to summit K2, which I climbed back in 2000.”

FTA's guides on the field

“Good to be back in Islamabad again,” Fabrizio Zangrilli reported. “Chris - the leader of the Broad Peak section of the Field Touring double header, and I hung out sorting gear, dealing with some logistics and chatting to Altitude Junkies’ Phil Crampton in the hotel lobby, as other climbers filtered in and out all day. Team members start arriving tonight, so all is on track.”

"Chris [Szymiec] is flying to Skardu tomorrow – Inshallah - in order to check and arrange the expedition gear. The rest of the team will arrive between the 10th -12th,” FTA's leader Chris reported. “The current political situation as reported by the western media has made a significant dent in the trekking and climbing industry this year,” he added. “Despite this, Pakistan remains a wonderful country filled with the most interesting and friendly people i have met in all of my travels.”


Sources :

ExWeb profile - Serap Jangbu: 14 x 8000ers, the Sherpas' way
( Early October, a Japanese expedition summited Manaslu. For Serap Jangbu, one of the guys carrying loads and fixing ropes for their Japanese clients, the peak became 8000er number 9 - and his third only in 2006. Earlier this year, Serap had already summited G2 and done an Everest traverse with Korean 14x8000er summiteer Park Young-Seok.

Speaking of summits…

Before this year, Serap had summited Everest one more time, plus Kangchenjunga, Annapurna, Shisha Pangma, Dhaulagiri (discussed), Cho Oyu twice, Lhotse twice – and K2 twice! Most Himalayan climbers could only wish for such a climbing record. But Serap wants more – he wants all 14 under his belt, and perhaps some recognition.

Born into a large family living by the shadow of Everest; Serap's climbing career has not exactly been sponsored by big companies. He is not a motivational speaker and has no favorite charities. This Nepalese climber is working as High Altitude porter for larger teams, mostly Korean.

Hitting Kathmandu at age twelve to find a job

As most Sherpas, Serap’s father and older brother worked with international climbing and trekking groups. Serap Jangbu only went to school for three years. “When I was 12 my older brother died," he recalls. "This threw my family in sorrow, but also in financial disaster, since we would have to survive only from my father’s income."

Serap quit school, walked to Lukla and took a bus to Kathmandu looking for a job. He would work as a porter and cook for trekking groups, carrying up to 45 kg. loads, and eventually became a trekking guide.

No climbing lessons

“In 1993, I got an opportunity to climb Everest," writes Serap. "Carrying loads from C2 to C4 at the South Col, I experienced dizziness and vomits for the first time – I’d never been at 8000m before.”

He got no climbing lessons but the advice from other fellow Sherpas in the team.

Serap was not on the summit team; instead he waited with hot beverages for the summiteers in C4. On descent, a female client gave him dry socks to warm his nearly frozen feet.

“I was unhappy inside about not reaching the summit, but the experience taught me many lessons. I continued on other expeditions and learned more about mountaineering. By 1998 I had climbed 30-35 peaks.”

Serap's first 8000+ meter summit was no less than Kanchenjunga's, with Park. Korean climbers remembered his name and, one year later, a team from Seoul payed his expenses and took him along to Pakistan - K2 was the goal.

Korean climbers opening the doors of Karakorum

The young Sherpa summited K2 not only that year (2000), but also 12 months later, again with Park Young-Seok. On the latter climb, a team member died on descent. Serap recalls the expedition returned to Islamabad deeply saddened after losing a man. But media waiting for them in town were not interested in tragedies - on the contrary, they cheered at the expedition's success: it was Park's 14th 8000er.

Then came Annapurna, Lhotse, Cho Oyu, Everest... Unknown to the world's climbing community, Serap Jangbu was definitely climbing up the mountaineering statistics ladder.

In 2005 he attempted Dhaulagiri with a Korean team. Serap and the Koreans claimed they reached the summit. However, some other climbers on the spot reported the Korean expedition had not reached the real summit.

Everest traverse

Spring 2006 was the time of Serap and Park’s Everest traverse - a tough one too. “On May 11 at 12:30pm we set off from C3 on the north side and reached the summit at 11:00 am,” recalls Serap. “After half an hour praying for world peace, we continued down the south side. The route was not yet opened, so we managed to reach South Col without fixed ropes. It took us longer than usual due to bad weather conditions."

"Night caught up with us just below the Balcony and we proceeded down to SC with only one head-lamp. Since we didn’t have a tent there, we continued down to C3, which we reached at 2:00 am and, exhausted, we slept in another team’s tent. Finally on the next morning we started at 9:00 am and reached C2 by 11:00am. Snow-blind and very tired, we decided to remain there that day and reached BC on May 13.”

If I had sponsors...I could do anything

“By 2001 I knew I wanted to climb all 14 – if I could have sponsors I would do it! But it's a very difficult dream to fulfill for me: my family background is not strong enough to form [and fund] a climbing team,” stated Serap Jangbu.

Serap might never get the chance to lead his own expedition – more likely he will end up becoming the first Sherpa to summit all 14 8000ers, the Sherpa way: working for others.

Serap Jangbu Sherpa still has Broad Peak, GI, Nanga Parbat, and Makalu (plus maybe a 'confirmed' Dhaula summit) to go.

Story corrected on January 2, 2006: Serap Jangbu and Park were the first climbers this year to step on the upper slopes of Everest’s south side after they summited. But they were not the first persons to summit Everest from the north side.

Previously, a team of six Sherpas working for HiMex fixed ropes to the top and thus and achieved the first summit of the season. The Sherpa team led by Phurba Tashi summited Mount Everest at 15.05 hours, April 30.

Further climbers summited Everest ahead of Serap Jangbu and Mr. Park – such is the case of Georgian climber Bidzina Gurdzhabidze (May 10) and Americans John Bagnulo and Dave Watson (May 11).

Serap's 8000er summits:

Spring 1999, Kanchenjunga (with Park Young Seok ); fall 1999 Shisha Pangma. 2000: K2 and Shisha via the south face. 2001: Lhotse, K2, and Cho Oyu. 2002: Annapurna, Lhotse. 2004: Everest, Cho Oyu. 2005: Dhaulagiri (discussed). 2006: Everest (traverse), GII, Manaslu.

Manaslu fall 2006 summits:

Eight members of the Japanese Mt. Manaslu Expedition 2006 team successfully scaled the 8163 metre high Mt. Manaslu on October 1, 2006, according to Nepal's Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. Summiteers were Japanese Yoshitomi Okura, 55, Takeshi Ogawa, 65, and Masami Yamanashi, 64, plus Serap Jangbu Sherpa, 37, Nima Tenji Sherpa, 36, Pemba Gyaljen Sherpa, 38, Ongje Sherpa, 23, and Nima Gyaljen Sherpa, 30.

Also Czechs Pavel Matousek and Zuzana Hofmannova summited Manaslu on October 3; Czech Frantisek Kolar summited on October 20, and Austrian Thomas Strausz summited on October 30.
Chasing 8000 metre peaks in Pakistan's Karakoram
Serap Jangbu the Philosopher

Gorgan and Serap Jangbu leave this morning with a handful of porters. Serap came here to climb Gasherbrum I and Broad Peak, potentially his twelfth and thirteenth 8000 metre peaks, but such has been the weather this year that he's been no further than Camp 3 on G1. Even so, he is very philosophical about the whole thing, and gives a short speech at breakfast which puts things in perspective for all of us.

Veikka Gustafsson and Serap Jangbu Sherpa“There are three things which are important in mountaineering. Number 1 is safety. You must always come back safely and with all your fingers and toes. The mountain will always be here next year. Number 2 is to enjoy the climbing and your time at base camp. If you can't be happy in the mountains, where can you be happy? Number 3 is reaching the summit, and this comes only after the other two. I came here to climb G1 and Broad Peak and didn't succeed, but I am happy, because I am alive and safe and will come back next year.”

I believe him. As he stands at the head of the table in his cowboy hat, with his long straight ponytail hanging down his back, there is a smile on his face which extends behind his eyes and is entirely genuine, hiding nothing – no regrets or wistfulness.

Gorgan's emotions are harder to fathom. “See you in London, when I come over to shag all your English women,” he says with a grin as he shakes my hand. I think he's just glad to be getting out of here.

Today is the second day of three days of storms, according to the last weather forecast we received. It's certainly the worst day I can remember us experiencing at Base Camp. A cold wet snow hammers down all day, and damp clouds hang across the Abruzzi and South Gasherbrum Glaciers, obscuring all mountains so that it looks like our little patch of moraine is afloat on an endless sea of ice. Not a hint of sun penetrates through to warm our tents, and in the afternoon I huddle inside mine wearing down boots, down jacket and two layers of trousers, with all tent flaps firmly zipped up, listening to a gusty wind hammer against the sides of the tent. At one point a solitary wasp finds its way inside and buzzes around my ears. With not a single blade of grass for miles around, I wonder what on earth the stupid insect is doing up here.

Gorgan at Base CampDespite the atrocious weather, our two enthusiastic youngsters, Arian and Michael, decide to spend the afternoon ice climbing on the glacier in the expectation that it will be good practice for when we come to climb G1. I very much hope severe ice climbing requiring two technical ice axes will not be necessary on summit day, where we will not be using fixed ropes. If so, I will be turning round and heading back down again – I've no wish to die on this mountain. As I sit and listen to the snow patter on my tent, a more realistic concern is whether we will ever get above Camp 2 on either mountain. Although we were intending to put up fixed ropes between Camps 3 and 4 and on the summit ridge of Gasherbrum II, supposedly an easier mountain, I seem to be the only person concerned that none of the route will be fixed above Camp 3 on G1. Either my companions are somewhat complacent or they're very talented ice climbers.

At dinner time I receive slightly better news. Phil has been over to see the newly arrived Korean team of Miss Oh Eun-Sun, who is hoping to make G1 her thirteenth 8000m peak after coming fresh off a successful summit of Nanga Parbat, her twelfth. Unlike anyone else on Gasherbrum this year, apart from ourselves, she has a team of Sherpas with her. She believes there will be a summit window between 31 st July and 4 th August, and her Sherpas will be using oxygen to help them fix 400 metres of rope on summit day. Phil offered for our Sherpas to help with fixing and breaking trail, and we understand this has been accepted. I try not to get too excited about this, though. News changes around here like a monkey swinging from tree to tree and never settling in one place. I'm certain circumstances will change again before we get anywhere near the summit. Que sera, sera.
Gasherbrum II (8035 m), Gasherbrum I (8068 m) and Broad Peak (8047 m) - Karakoram, Pakistan
Three 8 000 meters Peaks

The summer 2009 Philippe Gatta tried to climb Gasherbrum II (8 035 m), Gasherbrum I (8 068 m) and Broad Peak (8 047 m) without supplementary oxygen. Philippe teamed up with Gorgan Wildberger and Serap Jangbu Sherpa. Serap had only Gasherbrum 1, Broad Peak and Nanga Parbat left to complete the list of 14 8000 meters. Serap, Gorgan and Philippe were sharing base camp services with Altitude Junkies and ATP.

The weather has been very bad with lots of snow and constant high winds in altitude (50 km/h to 80 km/h). In 6 weeks of expeditions, they never had a good weather window for a safe summit bid. When they tried, they had to turn back in storms and avalanche conditions (see the blog for more details). Overall 2009 has been a bad year in Karakoram with very few successes. At the time Philippe left the base camp nobody had summitted Gasherbrum 1 and Broad Peak and Ueli Steck was the only one who succeeded Gasherbrum 2 during an impressive and bold solo ascent.

The conditions improved slightly a few weeks later allowing Veikka Gustafsson, Kazuya Hiraide and a Bulgarian team to reach the top of Gasherbrum 1. Veikka completed his 14x8000ers quest. Later on, Oh Eun-sun and a Spanish team also reached the top of Gasherbrum 1. On Gasherbrum 2, the Iranian team turned back 50-100m below the summit while a Spanish mountaineer disappeared near the summit the same day. Nobody reached the true summit of Broad Peak and unfortunately a few deaths were reported on Broad Peak and K2. On Gasherbrum 6, Daniela Teixeira and Paulo Roxo made several attempts but had to turn back because of poor snow condition and avalanches. For similar reasons, Don Bowie, David Falt, Bruce Normand, Guy McKinnon and Billy Peirson couldn’t reach the top of Gasherbrum 3 and 4. Arian Lemal who was on a Gasherbrum 1 / Gasherbrum 2 expedition has made significant efforts to collect abandoned rubbish at Gasherbrum BC and camp 1, like he did previously on Aconcagua.

Gasherbrum I (8 068 m), Gasherbrum II (8 035 m) and Broad Peak (8 047 m) are located in the Karakoram range (West of the Himalayas) in the Northwestern part of Pakistan, at the borders of Pakistan, India and China. This Range has 4 peaks above 8 000 meters: K2 (8 611m), Gasherbrum I and II and Broad Peak, more than 60 peaks above 7 000 meters and even more 6 000 meters peaks.

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