Szilard Suhajda (Hungarian expedition climber)
Memories from K2 – Using Simond’s Alpinism T2 on the world’s most famous mountain
The magical 8000 metres. Why is it so special? So calling and irresistible for mountaineers all around the world? Why are they chasing a dream – like an obsession – in pursuit of this unexplainable desire? The ultimate goal - to climb some of the highest and most challenging peaks on Earth.
There are 14 mountains above 8000 metre. They are some of the most difficult mountains towering into the so called “Death Zone” – an extreme altitude where the air is so thin you can hardly breathe even doing the easiest task. Despite all the difficulties you facing at altitude, you will need to carry heavy loads, to establish camps and to climb higher and higher on technical, steep terrain or fighting the next step in waist-deep snow. But then, as you feel the fatigue, the headache caused by the lack of oxygen, the freezing cold in your fingers and on your face, you suddenly realize the immense beauty around you. You are nearly at the top of the world. You can see the clouds in the valleys like peaceful waves of a sleeping ocean; you can see the blueness of the sky you’ve never seen before only when looking through airplanes’ windows miles from the ground; and then you see the Sun painting all this vision to the colour of fire. The world – almost like being on an alien planet – is changing around you: the ice and snow and rock look like burst into flames but as the Sun sets behind the ridge on the other side of the glacier, the temperature drops immediately. It’s mercilessly cold as you finish melting your last block of snow and start sneaking into your sleeping bag in the little tent in the middle of nothing. Still, you feel happiness. You also feel fear and emptiness, but something so satisfying and spiritually elevating at the same time. Yes, you can feel it because you are there – You’re living the dream. You’re testing yourself both physically and mentally whether you can make it until the end and back or not. Whether you can make it to the top and return back safe.
Climbing and staying in such an environment you need the best quality garments and equipment available. Failing of any of the gear you use cannot be an option because you’re life depends on it. Using the best products is crucial.
This year on K2 I had the opportunity to test my brand new Simond Alpinism T2 tent. To assemble this tent is absolutely easy and simple. Even without using the instructions provided the steps are so obvious. I first pitched it at Base Camp level just above 5000 metres. It was clearly visible at first sight that we’re dealing with a seriously made and cleverly engineered piece of kit. The Ripstop material is super tough and the whole concept of the design is exceptionally functional. The door is sufficiently big enough to crawl inside in any circumstances wearing bulky down jackets and its two way zippers can effectively help to control the ventilation. Of course there are other zip vents, too.
The quality and strengths of the Alpinism T2 showed higher on the mountain. At 6700 metres and then especially in Camp 3 at 7400 metres the extremely windy conditions certainly put it to the test. The geodesic design and the thoughtfully positioned aluminium poles could withstand the harshest weather and the most dreadful of gusts. I spent two nights in the tent waiting for the end of a storm and to my great satisfaction the Alpinism T2 proved to be super stable and undoubtedly reliable even in the most desperate moments. The snow skirt came very handy adding extra stiffness to its structure and the porch was big enough to keep even two 70 litre rucksacks and many other equipment (like harnesses, crampons, axes, shovels etc.) there. The pockets inside are also great – they are put much higher than in other tents, not restricting the living space at all. The inner door can also be stashed away in one of them. Excellent design, world class quality.
There is only one con I have to tell: it cannot survive an avalanche. Well, we did though. Unfortunately, after returning back to our Base Camp before our planned summit push, Camp 3 was swept by a massive avalance. We were lucky not to be there – and that’s the most important! - but to my disappointment I lost some of my most valuable equipment, including Simond’s Alpinism T2 tent. I hope I can have another one for my next expedition – see you next year on K2 again!