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Broad Peak base camp with Scott Fischer and Christine Boskoff

K2 and the most spectacular mountains in the world

Back to the future- Moun­tain Mad­ness returns to Pak­istan. Some MM Scott Fish­er his­to­ry and what adven­tures lie ahead as our trekking team is on its way to K2 basecamp.

1995 — the Moun­tain Mad­ness camp was abuzz from Scott Fischer’s ener­gy. The Broad Peak team looked com­fort­able with their sur­round­ings in Pakistan’s Karako­ram, which includ­ed numer­ous 8,000-meter peaks and K2, the sec­ond high­est peak in the world. It was, as not­ed by author Johan­na Gar­ton in the book Edge of the Map, a sto­ry that chron­i­cles the life of Chris­tine Boskoff, an aus­pi­cious day in the annals of Moun­tain Mad­ness his­to­ry. Camped next door to the MM team was Chris­tine Boskoff, who would become the sec­ond own­er of the com­pa­ny. With her hus­band Kei­th, they took in the scene of the neighbors.

Though they’d heard of his accom­plish­ments, the Boskoffs felt secure in their own. They bus­ied them­selves prepar­ing gear for the ascent of Broad Peak while absorb­ing the fact that they’d final­ly made it to the foot of an 8,000meter peak. Dur­ing a day of rest, Scott invit­ed Chris and Kei­th over to his camp nearby. 

You’re pret­ty new at this, I hear?’ he asked the cou­ple as they pulled up camp chairs. Com­pared to you? Big time,’ said Kei­th, with a laugh. His broad smile put Scott at ease. Both men were from the East Coast, ani­mat­ed as they spoke. 

I can tell you, the big peaks — there’s noth­ing like it,’ Scott said. I did Ever­est last year and am hop­ing to go back again next year.’ 

You think you’ll stick with it?’ Chris asked as she reached for the mug of cof­fee Scott offered her.” Excerpt­ed from Edge of the Map

Scott fischer and chrisitne boskoff
K2 and Mountain Madness trek to base camp

Chris and Scott con­tin­ued the con­ver­sa­tion, it going in so many dif­fer­ent direc­tions as often hap­pens when patient­ly wait­ing in base camp doing the often tedious work of acclima­ti­za­tion and rest­ing. Scott, not­ing Christine’s rel­a­tive inex­pe­ri­ence on 8,000ers, inquired in his friend­ly, mild man­nered way, You’ve not done any of the big peaks, but you’re a decent ath­lete and you feel okay up here at fif­teen thou­sand feet?” As author Gar­ton imag­ines, the con­ver­sa­tion prob­a­bly went some­thing like this, begin­ning with a shrug form Chris fol­lowed by, Truth be told,” she said, I suck at sea lev­el. But, I’ve got the right genes. I feel good, the alti­tude doesn’t both­er me, and I’m fast.” Scott, grin­ning, enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly replies, You’ve got this. Stick with us for the climb and then let’s talk about ways I can get you involved in Moun­tain Mad­ness. I think I’d be decent at run­ning a busi­ness if there weren’t oth­er things I’d rather be doing.” 

And so it went, his­to­ry made. Chris­tine went on to take over the com­pa­ny after Scott per­ished on Ever­est and lat­er, went back to Pak­istan to make an attempt on K2’s Mag­ic Line alpine-style with climb­ing leg­end and part­ner Char­lie Fowler.

Now, some twen­ty sev­en years after Chris­tine ad Scott first met, the Karako­ram stands as tall and mighty as ever. Yes­ter­day, after some time in the Shangri La-like town of Skar­du and a rugged jeep ride to the vil­lage of Askole, the K2 base­camp trekkers set foot on the mas­sive Bal­toro Glac­i­er and the start of almost two weeks of trekking, includ­ing glac­i­er trav­el on the Gon­do­goro Pass and descend­ing into he beau­ti­ful Hushe Valley.

K2 basecamp trek
In Skardu Pakisatan with Mountain Madness
Indus valley

MM Ever­est Base­camp trek guide Mara Lar­son sent along some updates: In leg­endary Skar­du where the rep­u­ta­tion of this place as a small shangri-la has been no exag­ger­a­tion so far. While Amin and I have been busy with min­istry meet­ings and trip logis­tics, the team head­ed out for some pas­sive acclima­ti­za­tion’ with an adven­ture up to the high alti­tude at the desert plateau of Desai. The tim­ing was impec­ca­ble with thou­sands of flow­ers in bloom up at near­ly 13,000 foot.

A nice chance to accli­mate to high­er and high­er ele­va­tions all accom­pa­nied by an ener­getic playlist of local hits blast­ing from the local Balti jeep dri­ver. Pret­ty well suit­ed to the rau­cous ter­rain of the road up and out of Skar­du thread­ing up sandy desert cliffs. Back in town late after­noon there was no chance to let jet­lag set in since the local Skar­du polo team had their final match against the lead­ing rival team of the province. Join­ing in the crowds of fanat­i­cal fans may end up being a high­light of the trip. Com­plete with Elise and Har­ry mak­ing their local tele­vi­sion debut with on m‑field inter­views at half time. Tru­ly couldn’t make this day up!

We round­ed it out with a relaxed rooftop din­ner in the city and again rel­a­tive­ly ear­ly to bed before our final day in civ­i­liza­tion tomor­row. What’s next? Tomor­row sees us dust­ing off the hik­ing boots and head­ing up to the 16th cen­tu­ry fort tow­er­ing above the val­ley. We’ll get out first offi­cial trekking day in explor­ing the heights above the vil­lage that were once occu­pied by Bud­dhist tem­ples, then Mughal forts and now trails to organ­ic vil­lage farms dot­ting the Indus River.

Skardu kid
On road to Askole

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions will be min­i­mal, but stay tuned for a dis­patch now and then.