Brian's Pakistan update- 6.27- call from Camp 1 Broad Peak

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Gabcast! Calls from Brian on K2 & Broad Peak 2010 #11

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Brian's Update from Pakistan- 6.25 (this one works!)

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Gabcast! Calls from Brian on K2 & Broad Peak 2010 #7

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Brian's update from Pakistan: 6.25 Up to Camp 2 tomorrow!

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Gabcast! Calls from Brian on K2 & Broad Peak 2010 #0

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Brian's update from Pakistan: 6.23- Camp at Broad Peak!

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Gabcast! Calls from Brian on K2 & Broad Peak 2010 #0

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Sole review in Runner's World!

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Check out this great review about running footwear, before and after!

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Gabcast Dispatch from Brian- 6.18

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Gabcast! Calls from Brian on K2 & Broad Peak 2010 #0

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Gabcast dispatch from Brian- 6.16

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Gabcast! Calls from Brian on K2 & Broad Peak 2010 #0

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Gabcast episode from Brian- 6.14

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Gabcast! Calls from Brian on K2 & Broad Peak 2010 #0

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Brian's K2 Dispatch: Made it to Skardu!

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So, after some very interesting events as of yesterday morning I made the flight to Gilgit along with Ben, Lhapka, Tsering and Mike from our combined expedition. As well as Benny, Peter and Javier from the Dynafit Broad Peak expedition. (cool group of guys as well)

We were running down the gateway to get to the bus that took us to the commuter plane in order to make the flight. In the end, they were delayed a couple minutes and we ended up sitting on a very stuffy plane for about 15 minutes before we endeavored to fly.

I felt a bit bad being on the flight actually as Garth Miller had given me his seat as he was traveling with Nikki-his partner in crime that will be trekking into base camp with us. As Garth had a secured seat on the flight and Nikki was going stand by as was I, they made the commitment to fly together or not fly at all. So, when it was time to board-and that passed, and still no word on whether or not she might be added to the flight Garth handed me his boarding pass and I made moves to get myself on the plane. In the end, there was an empty seat next to Ben-which could have been Nikki's-and hence why I felt a little bad to get on the flight.

The flight was relatively short and extremely short when compared to the bus ride that would have covered the same distance. Flight, 50Minutes. Bus ride to cover the same distance, 30 hours!! Yeah, it is tough country up there and no doubt I was glad to miss some of the "interesting" experiences that you get doing the KKH route. I think that most would agree that it is something that everyone that is headed to the Northern Region should do at least once, but really, ONCE is enough and seeing as I had done it both ways on my 2007 Expedition I was not feeling the need to relive it again.

After the 50 minute flight that took us past some beautiful scenery including Nanga Parbat-that unfortunately I could not get a great shot of as it was obscured by clouds- we made a bumpy landing in Gilgit. This left us with a 5-7 hour bus ride down the Gilgit River Valley and up the Skardu River Valley! All in all, it went by rather quickly and I did my best to get some great footage-but I fear that as in seasons past that viewing said footage could cause seizures at worst and nausea at best! Fortunately I don't suffer from Motion Sickness, but apparently some of the other members were not "enjoying" themselves as Ben recommended to Mike that closing your eyes was a great way not to experience at least part of the trauma.

The ride in included some tea in a green garden in Gilgit, as well as a nice lunch at a Government owned restaurant/hotel a little over mid route. I think that I slept for the majority of the ride as I had slept very little the night before due to my anxiousness to get on the road and my fear of sleeping through my alarm and not being downstairs to catch the shuttle to the airport.
One thing that I had forgotten about the drive, possible due to the fact that part of our drive in 2007 had been made during the night hours, was that the road is incredibly exposed to overhanging boulders the size of other cars and small houses-and maybe even a double wide trailer or two thrown in there as well. Now, it would not be so bad if these boulders were stacked, or leaning on one another, but instead they are in fact poised to strike and essentially pressed into the "dirt" hills that the road is carved out of.

It is not uncommon after a big rain for the steep hills above to spill down debris that covers the road with any number of types and sizes of rock that can make the road a bit bumpier than usual, or even make it impassable or cause a bus or truck to lose control. In 2007 on the return trip to ISB I had the good fortune of riding in the very first front seat next to the door and sitting close to the Bus Driver. I could not decide which was worse, having a potential front row seat to my own demise, or finding myself starting to doze and looking over to see the bus driver doing the same. He spoke no English and I not enough Urdu to really impart anything, but each time I pulled his sleeve to help keep him awake we would both laugh a bit....somewhat with humor and somewhat with and understanding that we were in the perilous journey together. Fortunately this most recent jaunt on the KKH was truly without concern and went by rather quickly.

The plan for tomorrow is to take the next step and procure a jeep ride to Askole-the end of our mechanized advance. From there on it is a 100K (62mile)+ hike to the Broad Peak Basecamp!
When Mike asked Fabrizio and Ben at breakfast this morning if that was worse than the KKH-I believe the answer revolved around there being a significantly larger "pucker" factor in the jeep ride compared to the KKH bus ride. Hopefully we will find it laid back and without incident.
The rest of the group is slated to arrive over the next day. It looks as though the direct flight that the rest of our members was supposed to arrive on today might not make it as it is raining in Skardu this morning and as the pilots are on visual control (no radar yet at this airport) then they do not even attempt to land if the weather is less than perfect. So I would give that a less than 20% chance of happening.

Chris and Rob are on the Bus to Skardu via the KKH-(so Rob gets to experience it all!)-along with the Liaison officer. They should, after their 30-36 hour trip arrive in Skardu as late as 3 am tonight/tomorrow morning. We wish them luck!

Well, I am headed back to the Concordia Hotel at which we are staying, which by the way has an amazing overlook of the River and surrounding peaks of Skardu and was nice to revisit as we stayed there in prep for the 2007 K2 Expedition, to help Fabrizio and Ben start sorting the group gear down to 25Kil ( about 50 lbs) or less loads for the porters. That and help Fabrizio sort and repack his AMPLE amount of gear that looks very much like I would imagine it would should one of the barrels that usually keep it in check had exploded due to coming to altitude!
Wish us luck and you can start checking out the gabcasts as I've finally figured out the details there to start posting and did my first today! Love to all! B

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Brian's K2 Dispatch: Hurry Up and Wait

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So, what we are currently experiencing here on our endeavor to climb in the Karakoram is something that I had heard about, but to this point not had the personal experience with. It is the Hurry up and Wait program.
To some degree every expedition experiences this same situation. Usually it is weather dependent and in this case the weather is somewhat a factor or consideration.
Currently we are "suspended" in ISB-Islamabad awaiting the opportunity to get up to Skardu via plane ideally or even by plane, bus, jeep, goat combination would suffice at this point. Not that ISB isn't a cool place to visit, but each day that we sit waiting to get to the next leg of the trip is one more day that we could be missing a great summit day opportunity down the road, and finishing our climbing objective and heading home to our families.
ISB had been VERY hot as of late, and although not as humid as the Midwest that I am used to, it is to some degree a combination of both. So, it is easy to break a sweat just walking up to the local shops to grab lunch or a cold drink. It feels a little bit like home, but since we are packed with very few sets of street clothes. As most of our clothing and hence baggage allowance is skewed towards supporting the climbing part of our endeavor. So, getting too hot and sweaty is not an ideal situation as we are living in these clothes until we get to the hiking portion of the trip-which will hopefully be happening sooner than later.
The last couple days have been good though and I have got to catch up a lot with my friend Shujaat here in ISB. He was one of our in country coordinators and part owner of KMM-Karakurum Mountain Magic on my trip to K2 in 2007. I had made somewhat regular efforts to keep in contact and so we have forged I think a pretty good friendship over time. Getting to actually come back to Pakistan and spend some time with him-especially as he is a MOST gracious host-has been very ideal!
Three nights ago on our first full night in ISB Shujaat took us to Luna Caprese, an upscale Italian style restaurant in the nicer part of ISB near many of the Embassy conclaves. This visit to Luna was a bit of a treat as we usually save that for post expedition enjoyment as it is in fact one of the few places that you can get beer and wine in an otherwise dry country. Plus the food is pretty amazing and although it is not on par with the steaks of IA, is pretty good just the same.
Two nights ago Shujaat invited us to Rawalpindi, where he lives, He took us to the Red Onion restaurant close to his home where we had some really great authentic Pakistani food that I had never had before. To date my favorite and one of my favorites in general has been Chicken Karahi. A spicy chicken dish that when combined with Chapati is delicious. BUT I found a new possibly equal favorite in the Dry Spiced Beef.
It has been so great to have Shujaat to take us around both as he knows most everything about the area. Where to find the best food, SIM cards for the phones that we bought, pillows, etc. The fact that he speaks such good english helps us to convey what we need to in order to get what we are after-BUT it is a bit challenging to ride with him as driving is in fact a new "hobby" for him. Much like any 16 year old that is new to driving a stick I have found myself gritting my teeth a bit as he tries to start off in third gear or continually kills the car when starting from a stop on any incline. The other night on the way to "Pindi"for dinner the traffic was literally bumper to bumper. Thousands and thousands of cars for as far as the eye could see. All of which moving in a whiplash stop and go fashion. Hit the gas and go for 10 ft and then slam on the brakes. We were doing this-or more importantly Shujaat was doing this-for about 20 minutes when we actually bumped the car ahead of us. The driver quickly got out and gestured and said something and came towards the car and Shujaat said something back and the driver looked in and then got back in his Taxi. On contact Rob-my new Aussie friend and current roommate-and I looked at each other and kind of laughed. We wondered how this might do down. As although it was a little bump I was sure that some words would be exchanged. We asked Shujaat after the exchange what was said and it apparently was something like:
Taxi Driver: "What, you couldn't see me from right behind me at this speed?"
Shujaat: "Oh, Shut up! No, I couldn't see you as you have no tail lights!" (Which he did not)
At which point the driver looked in (and Rob and I were convinced) and saw two big Westerners and decided that it was not worth the hassle. I was glad that we could in fact do something positive for Shujaat in preventing him from being taken advantage of by an opportunist cabbie.
Shujaat has not only made the 40 min drive from Rawalpindi with daily regularity in order to take me and other expedition members around town to get what we need, he has taken us out to some of the better authentic Pakistani restaurants and even took a group of us to visit Lake View Park yesterday.
Lake View Park was really neat to see. It is a bit of a family escape type of place on the outskirts of ISB. Only 4 years old it was quite a sight to behold. Freshly laid brick walkways and "streets" that no cars were allowed on, all made with ornate patterns of different colored bricks. At the end of the half mile or so walkway was a scenic man made lake that has the power of hydroelectric power creation as its purpose.
All around the area were family fun opportunities. From putt-putt golf to ATV track racing, BIG slides, and even a 70 ft man made climbing wall that they had just opened and were hosting weekly climbing comps on. Of course the area was surrounded by vendors of candy and cold drinks for your strolling enjoyment. I had wondered if there might be clowns or street performers in the area as it seemed logical that a place like this might lend itself to something of that nature. In fact, there was but one. It was a man with his trained pet monkey, who with a simple word would go from doing back flips to standing at attention and saluting onlookers-(usually he was directed at those onlookers that were closest so as to give them the opportunity to make a donation to the entertainment fund they were collecting).
It was funny though as we were all watching the numerous skills and seemingly complete command and or cooperation that the trainer and monkey had in place and feeling quite comfortable being within a couple feet of the tandem. Right up until a local Pakistani walked to close to the monkey's collections at which point the monkey lashed out and projected a blood curdling scream/screech! Pretty much everyone in attendance jumped back and from that point forward showed a new level of respect for the monkey and his potential reach. Ben was the funniest to watch as I think that he actually left the ground just a little but I certainly don't fault him for that as one of the first rules of traveling in foreign countries is to stay away from animals of all sorts as you never know what they might have and getting bitten or scratched by a monkey no thanks!
After we stopped by Lake View park with Shujaat and our friend Fida-the head cook from my 2007 K2 Expedition-we ventured over to the Western style market as Ben had been instructed to pick up extra coffee for Fabrizio as there is apparently not any available in Skardu of merit. I of course picked up some more Kit Kat bars, as those seem to be the "goods" for me on expeditions as they sound good to eat pretty much all the time! I think that I have plenty now, so when it was made mention that we might go to the market again today I had to pass.
Yesterday we also had the assignment of getting more DVD's for our basecamp enjoyment. Fortunately they are only about 50-100 rupees each. Currently a US Dollar is equal to about 85.31 Pakistani Rupee. So about a dollar a movie for titles that are not even out of the theaters yet. So, I should be caught up on those by summer's end if nothing else.
Our last member arrived in ISB last night at about 4am. A South African member named Mike that was fortunate enough to attend the opening ceremonies of the World Cup (super jealous) just before he got on the plane to come to ISB. So, we are all either here or already in Skardu.
I just received word that some of us are headed to the airport at 5 am tomorrow. At the moment we do not have a seat on the flight and I will be flying stand by to get there. To Gilgit that is, but am happy to at least try as today we spent pretty much the entirety sitting in the hotel sleeping and catching up on movies and learning about the contenders of the World Cup.
Hopefully more news tomorrow from the lovely town of Skardu. B

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Brian's dispatch from Islamabad: Day 2- waiting

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Talk today with Ben is that Broad Peak is fairly moderate terrain that is sometimes made considerably more challenging by the altitude and contributing weather. That is good news as I would like a chance to get some solid acclimitization with moderate technical challenges.
If possible a summit shot would be great as well!

It sounds as though only having a few teams on the mountain will also allow for more tents at camp 1 which will allow for more team members to get up and start getting acclimatized faster.
Also, less teams on the mountain will mean our choice of basecamp positioning-which could mean saving as much as a half hour each way going to and coming from the start of the climbing on the mountain. Ideal! It also means less climber created rock fall from camp one-which is probably the biggest objective hazard on the lower flanks of the mountain and was something our Czech friends had commented on during our 2007 trip to K2 as a couple had split off to try Broad Peak.
Tonight we got to hang out with Shujaat and his nephew. Shujaat was our in country service provider on our 2007 trip as part of KMM. He had my down suit in storage and returned it in top condition after 3 years.

It has been a lot of fun catching up with him and I look forward to helping get him outfitted for his fall trip to Shishapangma. He has been a gracious host to ferry us around to the markets for extra food-(as I hope to not lose 60+ lbs on this expedition). He's even going to help us get pillows tomorrow-something that I learned was incredibly valuable on our last trip-as no matter how great your Marmot bag is a stuff sack filled with lumpy clothes for a pillow for 50 or so days can wreak havoc on your recovery rest. Apparently Fabrizio-who is waiting in Skardu-cannot procure pillows there so we are bringing him one as well.

We were hoping to be flying tomorrow to Skardu and avoid the 36 hours of perilous bus ride on the KKH-Karakorum Highway- but apparently the President of Pakistan and military personnel have commandered it for tomorrows flight. So hopefully the following day we fly.

There has been lots going on and I hope to capture some great video-although the most entertaining thing that would have been of video merit was banned from happening. Most likely because we were in a secure area. I am bunking with Aussie Rob Baker, who is here to try Broad Peak. He had the foresight to ship himself a barrel of goods unaccompanied. Which I am still not totally sure wasn't a great idea considering the 7 bags I had to fly with and subsuquently wrangle when arriving in Islamabad. My mountainous cart of baggage weighing 400lbs actually made it out to passenger pickup before spewing a bag at a time for 10 ft as I struggled to get out of the way.

Anyway, Rob and I ventured out with a cabbie provided by Essar at ATP to go and pickup said barrel. As an aside the cabbie spoke no English and although he was very nice seemed a bit green on getting is around town. KMM just spoiled me prior, they were with us and took us around to make sure we had all that we needed as well as provided us with some historical detail and fun tourist facts. Even today Shujaat took us to the Faisal Mosque-incredibly beautiful-in his own car nonetheless.

When Rob and I did finally make it to Shaheen Cargo at the airport quite the debacle ensued. None of which I was allowed to film as we were in a secure customs area.
We were taken from booth to booth and Rob was asked to provide contents details and rupees. About 1hour into the "show" everyone just walked off. Apparently lunch break was from 2-3 and no little barrel would preclude them from following that mandate.
In the end I think we visited two little booths twice and 3 others once. Each time our "guides" in the process told us that was the last that he would pay. Apparently TO THAT PERSON was omitted from the sentence each time. It was a but comical in fact but by the end was a touch frustrating as you never quite know when you are "doing the deal" as it is to be laid out OR if you are in fact being taken advantage of.

I am sure there will be more great video to be shot in the coming days and weeks but that would have been priceless. I will try and post a Gabcast tomorrow! Have a great day! BB

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Scarpa to distribute Koflach

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SCARPA North America to distribute Koflach plastic mountaineering boots

BOULDER, Colo. – In a move that complements its own mountaineering boot collection, SCARPA North America will begin distributing Koflach plastic mountaineering boots for Spring 2011, after it was announced in early May that Koflach products would again be manufactured and offered in Europe.

Koflach AG announced in May that it is re-introducing the Koflach brand to the world for Spring 2011. Originally founded by Austrian climbers in 1898, the Swiss owners at Koflach AG understand the brand equity and share the passion of Koflach users. With renewed enthusiasm and ownership, Koflach is being reborn with the market-leading products that defined comfort, fit and warmth in the category. For Spring 2011, SCARPA North America will offer both the Arctis Expe, a very warm double plastic mountaineering boot geared toward expedition use or colder-temperature ice climbing, as well as the Degre, an all-around double plastic boot.

“Different plastic boots have different features, fits and applications. Distributing Koflach makes a lot of sense for us because the fit of and uses for these two boots nicely complement SCARPA’s two plastic boots, the Omega and the Inverno,” said SCARPA North America CEO Kim Miller. “For our customers, that means we are able not only to offer a highly respected and sought-after product, but also offer the most complete range of plastic mountaineering boots in the world.”

The distribution arrangement also takes advantage of SCARPA North America’s move in early 2009 to open its own distribution center in a location integrated with its offices in Boulder, Colo. Having battle-tested its distribution center for the last year-and-a-half, SCARPA North America is adding another brand to its offerings, including SCARPA, Rottefella, and now Koflach.

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Been to Osprey's Media Blog recently?

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Here is what is on the buzz right now:

* Outside's SS10 Buyer's Guide has featured FOUR Osprey packs! Included is the GEAR OF THE YEAR Sojourn25

* Outside has once again named Osprey one of the Best Places to Work in their May issue

* The Raptor 10 has a great feature in the June issue of Mountain Bike magazine

* has a slide show up of the Manta 25

Check these stories and more at:

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Scarpa named Sponsor of Exum Mountain Guides!

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SCARPA named official footwear sponsor of Exum Mountain Guides, develops shoe for Exum program

New Dharma Pro approach shoe created specifically for demands of guiding in Teton Range.

BOULDER, Colo. – In 2010 and moving forward, SCARPA will become the official footwear sponsor of one of North America’s most well-known and well-respected mountain guide services, Exum Mountain Guides.

Exum’s demo fleet will be comprised of SCARPA approach shoes and mountain boots, including the Dharma Pro, a new SCARPA approach shoe that was developed specifically to meet Exum’s requirements for guiding in Jackson Hole’s Teton Range. In addition, all 70-plus full-time Exum guides will be outfitted with Dharma Pros.

“What’s great about SCARPA shoes, beyond exceptional construction and performance, is that they are able to fit a really wide variety of foot shapes, and that’s ideal for a situation like ours,” said Nat Patridge, Vice President and Chief of Operations for Exum Mountain Guides.

Patridge said those factors, along with SCARPA’s willingness to build a shoe designed to meet Exum’s needs as relate to the unique nature of its guiding situation, made the brand the perfect footwear partner. SCARPA Design Team members traveled to Jackson Hole last summer to interview and climb with Exum.

“Based on experience, we figured the best way to understand the requirements for the Exum shoe was to go to Jackson Hole, go through Exum’s climbing school, and ascend the Grand Teton as clients,” said Kim Miller, CEO of SCARPA North America and SCARPA Design Team member. “That way, we could truly see and feel the specific performance needs for footwear through the eyes of both guides and clients.”

Armed with that information, as well as extensive feedback from the guide service about which features in footwear work and which don’t, the SCARPA R+D team went to work on the project over the fall and winter.

Climbing in the Teton Range is different than many other areas in North America where guiding takes place in that most climbs require long approaches, while the rock portion of the routes ascend relatively featured terrain. Thus, for the majority of its frequently guided routes, Exum prefers footwear that offers support and cushioning for the hike into the mountains and the descent out, yet is sensitive enough to climb 5.5 to 5.7 rock. That way, clients and guides don’t have to wear one pair of shoes and carry another.

That’s a delicate balance to strike, according to both Miller and Patridge, since the requirements for walking, particularly for support and cushioning on the descent, are often at odds with features that make the shoes precise enough to climb rock well.

The resulting SCARPA Dharma Pro combines a low-profile, sticky rubber forefoot with a dual-density midsole, shock-absorbing heel, and mid-cut ankle to balance sensitivity and responsiveness on the climb with support and cushioning for the trail.

The shoe will become part of SCARPA’s global collection for 2011. For 2010, one SCARPA retailer in Jackson Hole, Teton Mountaineering, will sell a limited production run of Dharma Pros.

About SCARPA and SCARPA North America

Founded in 1938, SCARPA builds performance footwear for climbing, hiking, skiing, mountaineering, trail running and other outdoor pursuits from its headquarters in Asolo, Italy. SCARPA has been owned and operated by the Parisotto family since 1956. In 2005, SCARPA opened its North American headquarters in Boulder, Colo., staffed and directed by veterans of the North American outdoor industry, to oversee sales, marketing and distribution in the U.S. and Canada. For more information about SCARPA footwear, visit

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