First off, I'd like to thank Everybody who worked hard to get me to Pakistan.
For those who don't know, The world lost Scott Adamson and Kyle Dempster last fall in the mountains of Pakistan. Those boys were unlike anyone I've ever met. The boys were climbing on the Ogre II and never made it back to base camp. This year has been beyond words. Getting a trip organized to go be where the boys were was an effort I almost didn't know how to emotionally navigate after all that had happened. Luckily I have the best friends in the world, and with generous support of the climbing community Ghafoor Abdul, Jewell Lund, Andrew Burr, Doom Fassbinder and I were able to pull this thing off.
Huge thank you to Rab Equipment, Liberty Mountain, Hyperlite Mountain Gear, Outdoor Research, Black Diamond, Lowa boots, Specialized bicycles, La Sportiva and Revelate Designs.
Pictured in the clouds is the north face of the Ogre 2, Where Scott Adamson and Kyle Dempster were last seen. Photo taken from the boys base camp by me.
We went to Pakistan with the spirit of the boys in mind. We planned a fat tire bike overland journey to the Choktoi Glacier. Home of the Ogre 2, Ogre 1, and Latok. We crossed river and glaciers, Cried and Laughed, but most of all visited a place that was so sacred to both Kyle and Scott. We also Established a beautiful memorial at the base camp Scott and Kyle stayed at. Andrew Burr had this incredible vision and with the unwavering help of Doom and Ghafoor, Aziz and Hauseen made something none of us could have imagined. The memorial is Perfect.
When we arrived in Skardu (City In Gilgit- Baltistan) we caused quite the Ruckus. Not only were we white people on bikes riding around Pakistan, But we were American, and our bike tires were so FAT. So naturally people stared. There are many motorcycles in Pakistan but the good old fashion bicycle is far and few between. So the kids who had bikes were super excited to show us and would ride around town with us. I mean look how cool we look....
DAY ONE TOWARDS THE CHOKTOI BASE CAMP
So then we were off! On our first day we rode from the town of Skardu towards the Village of Askole (where the road ends). We did a long, hot ride then threw our bikes in the jeep to make it to Askole before nightfall. We actually had a very tight regiment for this trip. We had one month before our flights returned to America. And when the mountains get involved things always seem to take a little more time.
DAY TWO TOWARDS THE CHOKTOI BASE CAMP
So we ate and we slept and we woke up decently early to depart out of Askole. We were excited to head into the mountians, and apparantly so was the rest of the village. The Pakastanis were fascinated that we were taking bikes to Latok, many of them being porters to the Choktoi knew just how stupid this idea was. But we were gonna do it anyways. Adventure! right?
DAY THREE TOWARDS THR CHOKTOI BASECAMP
DAY FOUR TOWARDS THE CHOKTOI BASECAMP
so at the end of day three we had actually arrived on the Choktoi glacier proper. It was lots of talus covered ice, and that went on into day four but nonetheless we were where we had aimed to be. So lots of feelings were in the air.
I personally had a really challenging day. I had dreamed about traveling here with Scott. Climbing these mountains, meeting these people. It was incredibly bittersweet to be in this beautiful place without him. And know that he was physically so close by , but i didn't know where he was. and i couldn't hold him, or kiss him. That I was just here, alive. And he wasn't.
To make it all more interesting, I don't do good at high altitude. That was the reason I had never been to the Choktoi in years past. In 2014 I got very ill on a Expedition to Nepal to Attempt Unclimbed peaks in the Rowaling Himal. I left after struggling around 19,000 with cerebral edema and severe chest pains that later turned into coughing up blood.
After arriving home my symptoms worsened and I Experienced a elevated magnitude of health issues and have been struggling with in years following that trip. Scott had been my rock through all of this. He was super committed to getting me strong and back into the mountains. Every day, every time I struggled with it, he had my back. We were so scared for me to return to high altitude, after spending so much time in hospitals with specialists that could guarantee no safety for me and my mysterious health condition. So we waited, and I did not go to Pakistan with him in 2016. He always told me the mountains weren't worth my life.
But here I was, testing my luck one year later, now without him. Feeling strong and healthy but still so scared, but I wanted to be near him so bad. I wanted to see all he saw. Experienced what he had in his last days. My family and friends struggled with this, and so did I. But I felt I must go.
I had been running marathon distances around 10,000 feet back in the USA. sleeping as high as I could in my truck around Silverton , Colorado. I climbed Mt. Whitney at 14,500 before I left to see how I would do. And I appeared to be doing fantastic. I did all I could to prepare, and I felt ready.
In Pakistan I tested my heart rate and oxygen saturation every day and kept a journal. I was taking Diamox and was monitoring how I felt very closely. But as we got further up it did catch up with me. I just was'nt recovering like the rest of the group. My heart rate would continue to climb. This was something I knew was a high possibility of and unfortunately was now becoming a reality.
OUR WEEK AT THE CHOKTOI BASE CAMP
We spent a little over a week at 15,000 feet. The Choktoi basecamp. This base camp was situated a few miles up from the traditional camp used for Latok. Ghafoor had built this camp specially for Kyle and Scott. It was their second year here, and they wanted to be close to the Ogre 2. So there I slept in Scott's tent. In the same place he slept. That felt nice
Jewell stayed in the North to go see Ghafoor's home and meet his wife and family. I had to catch my flight home to America. In a strange Blur of days I mostly wandered around the markets of Islamabad wondering if it was all a dream. Played tourist the best I could, visiting one of the major Mosques, getting Henna and visiting a few historical sites and museums.