By Asem Mustafa Awan
Islamabad (09-08-2017) Vanessa O’ Brien became the first British American to make the summit of K-2 the world second highest peak on July 28.
Talking exclusively to Capital Times, 52 year old made the summit in her third attempt from Camp 4 to Summit and back to Camp 4 in 23 hours.
Twelve climbers including Fazal Ali from Pakistan made the summit of K-2.
Vanessa attempted K-2 in 2015 and 2016 and in the two years she managed camp 2 and camp 3 respectively owing to weather and snow conditions. In 2016 she reached camp 3 but everything was swept by avalanche in that year and the year before in 2015 it was El Nino factor the conditions above camp 2 were very dangerous.
“It was a very hard climb and when I made it to the summit my only thought was to get down from here alive. It is a great accomplishment,” said Vanessa adding, “I hold Wanda, Julie Tulis, Alsion Hargreaves and Christine Boscoff in very high esteem, these women were the true pioneers.”
Vanessa O’ Brien a retired professional banker has taken up mountaineering full time. She holds many a records to her name and to name a few she is member of the seven summits club. A distinction she achieved in 10 months reaching all the high peaks in the seven continents besides skiing to ends of North Pole and South Pole.
“The climb was very difficult and in normal circumstance it would have taken 8 hours from Camp 4 to Summit but due to difficult conditions it took us double the time.
The team was very strong and focused and slowly we progressed. The bottle neck before the summit took a lot off time to climb four may be more hours,” said Vanessa who now has 5 8000 meter peaks to her name including Everest.
“The other team on the K-2 was led by New Zealand climber Russell Brice whose team stayed behind,” said Vanessa adding, “It is a personal decision and I respect that, people have different levels of risk tolerance. We had a very strong team.”
“I personally would have preferred to come down in the light instead of darkness.”
She said I am very grateful to all the well wishers who monitored our GPS Trackers and prayed for our safety when they were not moving.”
Answering a query on commercial aspect of climbing she said, “There should be some criteria and guidelines to make this sport safe. There should be a level of experience to attempt the high peaks.
Russell Brice has set a standard for K-2, his team, had members who had climbed Everest and another 8000er to attempt K-2.”
Vanessa was part of Nepalese expedition led by Mingma G Sherpa who managed to put members on both K-2 and Broad Peak summit.
Twelve members reached the summit of K-2 with five Nepalese, five international climbers including Vanessa and one Pakistani Fazal Ali.
It is interesting to note only two people Fazal Ali from Shimshal and Mingma Sherpa from Nepal have climbed K-2 twice.
The summit push from Camp 4 started at 11:00pm and summit at 4:30 pm July 28 and back to Camp 4 at 10 pm.