23-08-2022

Ramón Morillas: K2 on my mind

All eyes on the second highest peak in the world: 8,611 m. That is the altitude of K2, in the Pakistani Karakoram range. Niviuk Factory Pilot Ramón Morillas joined Horacio Llorens and Tom de Dorlodot in an attempt to fly over it in July, and although they came within a hair's breadth of their dream, they were unable to achieve it. They have been among the first to paraglide to this famous mountain and have recorded historic flights all over the area. 

“This was my sixth expedition to Pakistan. In 2009 I went for the first time with Tom, we flew over the Baltoro Glacier and saw that there were possibilities; the atmospheric and flying conditions made it possible to paraglide up a mountain of more than 8,000 m," explains Ramón. "Unlike in the Himalayas, in the Karakoram area the wind is not as strong and allows us to fly in summer in relatively good conditions. When I say ‘good', it is considering that we are surrounded by high altitude glaciers," he continues. You have to have a very good understanding of the meteorology to fly over such a remote area with very few known and safe take off and landing options. 

The flying equipment

On this occasion, Ramón used ultralight vol biv equipment consisting of the Klimber 2 P (size 21) and the new Arrow P harness, which is still under development. "It was an achievement for me to be there and to test the Niviuk equipment. Not only because of the altitude and the harsh flying conditions, but also because take offs, landings and transport are not in the best of circumstances.” The area is very arid and covered with ice and sharp rocks. "It was an ideal test of the quality of both the wing and the harness. I am very happy with the results. Also, the light weight of the equipment is appreciated when you have to walk long distances with everything on your back," says Ramón. 

Giant ice walls

"The flying conditions for climbing K2 or Broad Peak (8,501 m) have to be very special, specific and very good. The goal of the trip was to fly to K2 and try to fly over it in 25 days," says Ramón. On the third day of the expedition, starting from the Paju camp on the northwest side of the Baltoro Glacier, they took off and went straight to K2, which they reached in majestic fashion. "It was wonderful, we were very happy. Cloudbase was not very high, but it was incredible," he says of that historic flight.

"For much of the trip we had pretty good conditions and were able to fly for 10 to 12 days. Personally, I haven't been above 7,600 m, but I've had some great flights.” 
Surprisingly, almost all of them were about 100 km or more. Flying long distances in such an inhospitable and expansive area is very complicated. "You are surrounded by breathtaking scenery, but the commitment to flying and communication has to be total - you feel very small out there.

I reached K2 once and for days we tried to climb it from different areas: from the south-west and north-west face, but it was impossible. I also reached Broad Peak three times. In fact, on one occasion I was able to land right at the base camp of Broad Peak, a super authentic and unforgettable experience. I had been dying to do it for a long time. It was impressive," Ramon enthuses. "As the weather was not good, we walked back to our base camp: two days walking 14 hours a day. It was very hard, but I'm very glad I did it and I would do it again.”

It is clear that the experience has been extraordinary, although they have returned with bittersweet feelings. "I have had this project in mind for 13 years, since the first time I went there. Now, after trying for so many days, we have realised that ideal, or even fortuitous, conditions are necessary to be able to fly to over the top of the K2 peak. I don't rule out trying it again in the future, only time will tell". And Ramón says goodbye, leaving that in the air.


Watch the full experience here.

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