Summer 2015 | Mariano Galvan’s Broad Peak Ascent Details

Argentinian mountaineer Mariano Galvan solo climbed Broad Peak via Carlos Carsolio’s 1994 route above C3, in a marathon 52 hour summit-bid in July. He was first of the two Broad Peak summiteers, this season. The climber has shared details of ascent in a recent interview with Isaac Fernández of Desnivel.

Change in Plans
Mariano Galvan tells Spanish Magazine that his intention was to climb K2 this season. He didn’t have any plans for Broad Peak. However, there were too many teams on K2 this year. Sherpa from commercial teams worked on both SE Ridge and SSE Ridge and Mariano was unable to go up without disturbing rope-fixing teams. That was when he switched his thoughts to Broad Peak.

Things were not smooth on Broad Peak either. Climbers, who had gone up for acclimatization, reported extremely difficult snow conditions on normal route. Mariano knew he wouldn’t be able to negotiate normal route to the top. However, a discussion with fellow climber Carlos Suarez prompted a different idea, “[he] had read that Carsolio 1994 route had more rocks, and was more likely to be climbable, but the difficulty and exposure were much higher.”

The Climb
Mariano acclimatized on Broad Peak (as did many other K2 climbers, this year) by spending a night in C3 and returning to BC for rest and recovery. He had now decided to follow standard route till C3 and climb Carsolio’s line beyond that. Carlos Carsolio climbed Southwest Spur in lower sections, overlapping normal route at C3, climbing West Face to Foresummit and following North ridge to True Summit.

Mariano Galvan started the ascent from K2 Base Camp on July 14th, right after mid-night. Although ropes had previously been fixed till C2, tracks were covered by recent snow. “The night time meant favorable conditions, although hardships of opening nonexistent tracks were felt at every step,” It took him 11 hours to reach C3 at 6800m. Conditions were perfect - no wind, good visibility and a mesmerizing landscape. Mariano Galvan pitched his tent and rested for rest of the day.

Day 02
Mariano left C3 on July 15th at 00:40 hrs with one liter of water and a little food. He opted to leave heater, sleeping bag and everything else behind, in order to tackle the rocks with a light backpack. “I estimated that ascent will take less than twenty four hours,” this decision proved to be a life-threatening one at the end, though.

It was another perfect day, as he quickly reached first ice field. “This is about 200m long and has a slope of 55 degrees. The progression was slow and I reached first rocky ridge at 05:30am. The difficulties didn’t end here as I started to climb sections IV to V, with unsettled rock that had to be checked several times before gripping.”

“In the evening, I tried unsuccessfully to find a place for a bivouac. The best I could get was a snow slope where, with push of crampons, I managed to stay stable enough to try to sleep,” he was at now an altitude of 7600m.

After a few hours sleep, Mariano Galvan resumed the summit push. Lack of rest, sleep and appetite was now showing its affects. Situation was worsened by increasing wind and low visibility. It was a moonless night. “This last part of climb at night was a nightmare; Rocks were very bad, covered by layer of snow,” the Argentinean climber recalls.

“I kept searching for a way out, for hours which appeared extremely close to me. I watched a few meters above where the rocks appeared to be easing. With much fear, I managed to climb the 15 meters, I was exhausted and breathing hard because of altitude: Above 7800m, V+ becomes serious, and particularly with the anxiety of climbing without rope.”

From here on, route to summit was “simple walk”, says Mariano Galvan. He reached the top at 06:00am on July 16th.

Mariano’s moments of joy were short-lived, as he started considering the options for descent. Coming down the route of ascent wasn’t possible due to loose rocks. North ridge - the normal route - seemed a better option. He found an old piece of rope that proved extremely useful in some sections. By late afternoon, he was still around the pass. “The terrain was full of deep snow, making each step a nightmare. At every step I sank to above knee roll in snow surface, which was like a hard crust giving way to a kind snow sugar.”

“Falling down woke me from my drowsy state and interrupted the conversation with my imaginary friends who were by now part of expedition.”

He eventually settled down to spend another night at 7100m. “[I was] disoriented to the point that I decided to wait for sunlight. My camp was about three hundred meters below my location, but I was confused and I thought that, if I continued, things would get worse.”

Next morning, Mariano started the descent at sunrise. A Korean climber provided him water and food, while he was still above his tent. He rested in C3 for a few hours before descending further. He eventually reached K2 BC after 8PM on July 17th. Mariano Galvan disclosed the news about his summit to a few close friends only.
Topography of Carlos Carsolio’s 1994 route (published in AAJ 1995).

A week later, Mariano Galvan made a summit push on K2 with Swiss climbers and Spaniard Carlos Suarez. However, bad conditions forced them to retreat from C3.

Mariano Galvan had previously climbed four eight-thousanders: Lhotse (2011), Everest (2012), GI and GII (2013) - all without supplemental oxygen. In summer 2013, he was the first climber to reach summit of GII and GI - well before Sherpa/HAPs could fix the route to the top. In 2012, he was amongst the few climbers who summited Everest without bottled oxygen. He was the only climber to reach Lhotse summit on May 18th, 2011; route to summit wasn't fixed at that time.

Photo Credits: Photos belong to Mariano Galvan
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