July 19 - camp 2 21,450 feet
K2 is fickle, and even though we have the best forecasts available the mountain is in control of what ultimately happens, and we have to be smart and adaptable. I spent most of last night listening to snow pile up outside the tent, eventually sounds were muffled and I knew that the tent was completely covered. When I reached a hand outside my warm sleeping bag and slapped the tent wall closest to me my heart sank as I watched inches of fresh snow slide down the side, I knew there was much more than the predicted 3 inches (7 cm).
Motivation is scarce at 21,000 feet (6,400 meters) but eventually I peaked outside the tent to confirm that there was a foot (30 cm) of new snow. I knew that our move up the black pyramid to camp 3 was now questionable, and radio conversations with the team above us and the Sherpa team above them confirmed even more snow higher on the mountain. Feet of fresh snow is an avalanche hazard, especially on the steep slopes above us.
I laid back down in my sleeping bag and waited for what I knew was coming, we were descending. I began packing and gearing up and was mad, really mad. Not at anyone, not at the mountain, just at the situation. I was minutes away from stepping outside of the tent to put on my crampons and begin descending when someone on the team, I don't know who, questioned the decision to descend.
I think that I experienced every emotion in the next few minutes. Everyone on the team argued their opinion and eventually we agreed to wait at camp 2 one more night to see whether the mountain would allow us to climb higher. Even without the benefit of hindsight (which I have now), this was the right choice. We have enough food and fuel to extend our summit rotation by one day, the weather forecast from a new source calls for improving conditions beginning tomorrow for the next 3 days, then poor conditions beginning on the 24th.
It's late afternoon and it's overcast and snowing lightly. I'm trying not to spend too much mental energy willing snowflakes back into the clouds. Fingers crossed that we can move to camp 3 tomorrow.