Climber returns home after failed summit attempt on K2

Safe but sorry

Posted: Friday, September 06, 2002

SEATTLE -- Had it been up to Christine Boskoff, she would have made one more push for the summit of K2 before giving up on the world's second-tallest mountain.

But in the end, poor weather thwarted her bid to reach the top of the 28,250-foot peak in the Himalayas' Karakoram Range on the border between Pakistan and Tibet.

''One time when we were descending on the south face, a big avalanche set off to our right, and a big avalanche set off to our left,'' Boskoff said Wednesday from her office at Mountain Madness, the guided climbing business she owns and runs in West Seattle. ''We were safe where we were, but it was pretty freaky.''

Boskoff and her climbing partner, Charlie Fowler, of Norwood, Colo., began their trek in June on the permit of a 12-member international team, then joined a six-member Japanese team in late July when the group they started with decided to head back down the mountain because of stormy weather.

''That was a bummer,'' said Boskoff.

They made their last summit push in early August, then headed home to the United States.

She climbed as high as 25,700 feet, Web site dispatches showed.

None of the roughly 50 climbers who tried to reach the summit of the so-called ''Savage Mountain'' made it this year, Boskoff said. Two men died -- a Pakistani porter and a liaison officer with the Pakistan Army accompanying one of the teams.

Boskoff, who turns 35 on Saturday, has been back in Seattle since Aug. 15, staying busy at work, planning Mountain Madness' expeditions for next spring.

She said she wants to give K2 another try at some point, perhaps as early as 2004. Whenever it happens, she said, she'll try to assemble a small party of the strongest climbers she knows -- a team with the skill to make an all-out bid for the summit.

Only 189 people have ever reached the summit of K2 -- so named because it's the second in a chain of 35 mountains in the Karakoram Range. Of the 189 who made it to the top, 49 died -- 22 of them on their way down.

And of the five women who made it, three died while descending and the other two died on climbs elsewhere soon after surviving K2.

Boskoff, a native of Appleton, Wis., has reached the top of five of the world's 14 tallest peaks: Cho Oyu, Lhotse, Gasherbrum II, Shishipangma and Everest.

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