The following message is from Garrett Madison, the K2 guide for Stuart’s expedition. It can be found at http://madisonmountaineering.com/dispatches/.
Our team is now back down in base camp after our K2 summit attempt. Tomorrow was supposed to be our summit day, the weather currently looks perfect as predicted, clear skies and no wind. We had everything in position for our summit attempt, after about 5 weeks of preparations, we had established our high camps, had climbed to camp 3, and were looking forward to our summit. But it was not meant to be, as when we were preparing to climb from camp 1 to camp 2 on the morning of July 23, we saw a big avalanche come down the mountain. We later learned that this avalanche was massive, had started somewhere near our camp 4, and had covered nearly a third of the mountain down to the base, taking out our camps 3 & 4, nothing was left. We were lucky that we were not in these camps when the avalanche occurred. Without our equipment for our summit attempt (tents, oxygen, ropes, food, etc) we cannot continue our climb, we are now heading home, as are all teams. Yesterday we searched the avalanche debris field at the base of the mountain, about 7000′ below where the slide began, but found nothing, as the debris was around 10-20 ft. deep in most areas. We will leave base camp in a couple of days and trek out, then fly or drive to Islamabad and fly home. Even though we did not make the summit we had a great experience and are thankful for the time we had in this beautiful mountain range.