After taking a day of rest after the first rotation in base camp, we were heading back for the second rotation on Broad Peak. This time the goal was to sleep in camp 2, and preferably hike above camp 2, maybe even touch camp 3.
We started early in the morning so the glacier rivers would still be frozen and the snow firm. Once the rivers on the glacier thaw, traversing the moraine becomes much more difficult. The rivers’ flow is too strong and the terrain too slippery to cross just anywhere, and finding a safe crossing isn’t easy even with experience. (Hell, a local porter died trying to jump one of the rivers…) Higher up on the mountain having firm snow means much easier progress. Not sliding back a step for every two steps forward is a huge difference in exhaustion.
In just one day since the first rotation, the conditions have changed a lot on the mountain. What was covered in deep, soft snow on the first rotation was often turned into naked rock or walls of ice. I was surprised just how quickly the snow disappeared. Places where it was “easy” to walk earlier now were steep smooth ice. Even in camp 1, the snow the tents were pitched on was disappearing rapidly, resulting in the tents turning from flat to heavily sloped in best case to heavily sloped and unusably bumpy in worse cases.
The path above camp 1 was new terrain. It was even steeper than the way to camp 1, with more rocky sections. Camp 2 on Broad Peak is quite extended, so it takes almost a whole hour to climb from where you see the first tents until you reach the last tent. It’s pretty evil, since you think “oh I’m there” when you spot the tents and then it’s still ways until you make it to your own tent (near the top).
Once I made it to camp 2, I took a few hours of much-needed rest. Meanwhile some of the team decided to head higher, but I opted to hike later on my own. Their report was that the way to camp 3 is once again steep, and unlike between camp 1 and 2 (which is only 3-4 hours), it’s quite far away too. I ended up hiking “just above camp,” covering the first big ascent to the first rocky section in half an hour or so.
The way down was much quicker (as expected), only taking 3 hours or so to crampon point, and then some more slowly traversing the glacier to the safety of Broad Peak base camp. I reached base camp well before noon, took the opportunity of the hot day to have a shower then spent the rest of the day hydrating.