Wilco van Rooijen
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WILCO VAN ROOIJEN: SURVIVING K2
Surviving two days in the Death Zone
In the summer of 2008 the 'Norit K2 expedition' climbed without additional oxygen the 8611 meter high peak of K2 in Pakistan. During the descent the expedition turned from triumph to tradedy. One of the biggest tradedy's in mountain climbing history. Statistical every quarter 'conqueror' will die on the "Killer Mountain". In 2008 11 climbers lost their life. The news was going over the whole world from CNN, Al-Jazeera, Sky News, BBC, New York Times etc.
Wilco van Rooijen, the Dutch expedition leader has been missing for three days and give up by the outside world. On his last strength he came back a life out of the 'Death Zone'. The 'Norit K2' Expedition 2008 paid a high price. What exactly took place that August 1, 2008? How could this tragedy have taken place?
home of a poor climber, but of a prominent member of the community. We rang the doorbell and Ronald opened up. We were invited to join him up the stairs in his study with its beautiful mountain photos on the walls. The books and magazines were striking. He clearly spent a lot of time here. And if he didn’t he should have. Ronald was very warm hearted, we quickly felt at home. He enquired about our last climb - the Walker pillar on the Grandes Jorasses. Conversation quickly turned to K2. We
the broken tent? I propose he sleeps in my tent. The three of us can sleep in the lotus position, packed together in a single-person tent, anything to stop him from going back down. This is also a matter of self-interest of course. I know that his strength will be essential on the way to the col in the morning. Fortunately, he calms down and finds a temporary solution for his discomforts. Mark arrives at 21.00. It is dark and I am already in my sleeping bag. Mark is upset: several hundred
they had to be unloaded and only made it after several repeated attempts. My heart is in my throat, but I needn’t have worried. We climb the hill at the first elegant attempt. Askole is a real expedition village. As the road ends here it is a gathering point for porters seeking work which brings foreign wealth to a very poor part of the world. The next morning, the atmosphere is especially pleasant. We are recruiting. We are the first expedition of the season and the porters are raring to
there. I ask him what is going on, and why it’s all going so slow. He apologises and says that it’s because of the Koreans ahead of him going slow. I realise there is nothing we can do to change situation. This is the result of too many climbers in a difficult key passage. The plan to send up a team ahead to prevent this has not worked. I fasten myself back onto the rope above the Bottleneck, and suddenly hear a loud scream. I turn around and see Serb Dren Mandic fall backwards and plummet into
have to get away. As fast as possible. My throat feels it is in the middle of a panic attack. I gently lean backwards, turn around and carefully scramble up on my hands and knees. Nerves tingle, I don’t know how brittle this snow ledge is. I am scared that I will fall through it, or a section might break off and take me down with it. There is one consolation, I think that I may have seen a way down on the right. But I doubt it. I scream for Cas and Pemba, no reply. The further I move to the