True Grit: Adrian Hayes Reflects on His K2 Expedition

Globetrotting explorations, an epic 3,120km vertical crossing of the Greenland ice cap, and other challenging expeditions to some of the coldest places on Earth — British explorer Adrian Hayes has done and seen it all in a lifetime of extreme adventure and record-breaking feats.   

In his latest exploit, the UAE-based Briton tested his mettle by joining a six-man international team to scale K2, located at the border between China and Pakistan and one of the toughest peaks in the world to climb. Thuraya and our Service Partner Xtra-Link were honored to have sponsored his trek up the second-highest mountain on Earth, enabling Adrian to make use of the Thuraya IP+ broadband terminal and SatSleeve adaptor to document the journey on his website and social media channels.

“As an adventurer, the mystery and sense of foreboding danger that surround K2 has always been a great draw, and I had been planning and training vigorously for this expedition for more than a year. The satellite equipment provided by Thuraya allowed me to share a powerful story with the rest of the world, especially through spectacular images we were able to capture from the vantage point of the mountains, as well as communicate with those involved in the expedition with much greater ease,” said Adrian, a former British Army Gurkha Officer.

Adrian and his expedition team originally planned to reach the K2 summit over a period of 60 days, but their first summit attempt was repeatedly disrupted by the unpredictable weather and snow conditions. Then, tragedy struck when an avalanche killed two of his fellow climbers — New Zealanders Marty Schmidt and his son Denali — and wiped out all the oxygen supply and equipment at Camp 3, forcing the team to abandon any further summit attempts.

“Although success is never guaranteed for K2, I was still extremely disappointed, distraught even, having put so much time and preparation into the project. The avalanche that killed the Schmidts ruled out any further possibilities or thoughts of a second summit attempt. One tries to analyze the reasons, but K2 was simply, and tragically, not meant to be climbed this year,” Adrian said.

The communications kit utilized by the expedition team, which includes the Thuraya IP+ terminal, provided the only reliable means for Adrian and the other climbers to let their family and loved ones know that they are safe and sound, as well as to convey the unfortunate news of the two Kiwi climbers. “The updates we provided were the same reports that were carried by news agencies around the world,” Adrian added.

Extremely robust and easy to use, Thuraya IP+ and SatSleeve proved invaluable in enabling Adrian and his team to stay in touch with their closed ones as well as update the other climbers about the prevailing weather conditions.

“The satellite equipment we used need to be highly durable and easy to deploy throughout the expedition, especially to overcome difficulties such as extreme weather. The Thuraya IP+ provided us with a highly reliable means of establishing a connection quickly and efficiently, while the Thuraya SatSleeve’s greatest benefit was having all contacts at hand prior to commencing the journey — useful contacts that were required as the expedition went on,” he explained.

While his K2 reflections may have been tinged with sadness and mixed emotions, Adrian remains undaunted and is already setting his sights on his next expedition.

“K2 is steep, technically challenging and dangerous but not insurmountable, and I am not one to give up easily after one failure. Stronger and wiser, I will definitely be back again in 2014 to attempt another climb,” he concluded.

As a sponsor and provider of communications equipment to the expedition team, Thuraya is extremely proud of what Adrian and his team has achieved and we look forward to supporting him on his next expedition.

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