Nanga Parbat Plays Hard with winter Attempts

Nanga ParbatAs expected this winter,  Nanga Parbat the world’s ninth highest at 8, 126 meters or 26,660 feet, has stopped some of the climbers in the world.  In spite of plans to climb in “alpine style” and acclimatizing on other mountains as far away as South America, the “Naked Mountain’s” brutal winter conditions have played havoc with the five teams who braved the odds.

Currently, there are only a few climbers at base camp waiting for the next weather window that is estimated to begin around February 4th.

Only two of the fourteen 8000 meter mountains have not seen climbers top out in the winter: K2 and Nanga Parbat, both in Northern Pakistan. But this winter of 2015/2016 there are six attempts on Nanga Parbat. K2 had no takers this winter season after thwarting all attempts during the normal summer season last year.

Nanga Parbat

Five teams have attempted a winter ascent with plans from the Diamir side and one from the Rupal side. And to many people’s surprise, a late arriving team has just made an appearance hoping to leverage the hard work put in by others. This is the big picture:

Status High Point
Nanga Revolution over 5800m
International Team BC 6700m
North Face BC  5800m
Rubber Duck over 7500m
Nanga Dream over?  7300m
Cleo Weidlick BC


Nanga Revolution – Kinshofer Route/Diamer Face/Alpine Style

Their plan was to climb in alpine style, but after a huge effort and a hand injury to Adam Bielecki, he and Jacek Czech ended their attempt and have left base camp.  They had reached 5800 meters. Bielecki had an 80 foot fall where he had the injury. They first acclimatized on Ojos del Salado, 6893m, in the Andes.

International Team – Kinshofer Route/Diamer Face/Seige Style

Janusz Golab, Alex Txikon, Ali Sadpara and Daniel Nardi have made great progress fixing the route to around 6700 meters to establish their Camp 3.  They are climbing traditional seige style using fixed ropes but not using supplemental oxygen. They are climbing what is considered the normal route on Nanga.

Alex Txikon has been posting spectacular pictures and updates on his Facebook account and blog.

Nanga Parbat (courtesy of Alex Txikon)
Nanga Parbat (courtesy of Alex Txikon)

The latest update had them waiting for better weather:

Twelve days of hard work in mountain, three nights in C1 (4.800m), other four nights on the small and unconfortable platform in C2 (6.100m) and more than 2.500 meters of rope (almos 200 kilos) carried up and fixed along the route, up to its C3 (6.700m).

Twenty five days are gone since we arrived in this Base Camp; it was 31th December, and during this time the team leaded by Alex Txikon has been able to equip the hardest and most technical parts of this Kinshofer Route in winter Nanga Parbat (8.126m) up to its C3 (6.700m): the 900 icy meters of the stip couloir that goes from 5.100m to the base of the Kinshofer Wall; this rocky bastion that seems to be a kind of door for C2 (6.100m); and the seven pitches on blue ice (about 25–30 meters) that go from 6.500m to 6.700m between C2 (6.100m) and C3 (6.700m).

The North Face team – Messner Route/Diamer Face/Alpine Style

Italian Simone Moro with 15 winter expeditions under his belt was attempting the Messner Route with teammate Tamara Lunger. They had planned on acclimatizing on Spantik, 7027m, in Pakistan before heading to NB.

Moro had previously said he would not post any updates during his expedition so as to keep his plans and location from the other teams as there is global publicity for the first person, and their sponsor, to claim the first winter ascent. However, he recently announced they were abandoning their original plans due to dangerous serac and crevasse conditions on the Messner Route and will join forces the International team. They had reached 5800 meters on the Messner Route.

Lunger posted on Facebook

For us I think this day was very important, because Simone and I have agreed with the team of Alex Txicon to switch now into the Kinshofer route. For me Messner/Eisendle was a real adventure, but thanks to the information from Tomek and Elisabeth about the state of the seracs, which is at any moment ready to collapse and in addition the bigger and bigger crag, we decided to unite the forces in the Kinshofer route. I feel sorry, because the team of Txicon has already done almost all the fixing work and we had not the possibility to participate in it, but what I notice here, is that it never exist a competition here, but that our two teams are grown together in this period and share friendship. Igone, Alex, Daniele and Ali are creating every day a smile in my face. I think it’s good and I’m really proud that we 5 “survivors” understand us and match so well. I think together we can help and motivate better and maybe we are able to do a big thing!

Moro posted on Facebook “Competition is in the mind of those who are not here. Ambition and competiton are not the same things. :-)”

Rubber Duck Team – Messner Route/Diamer Face/Alpine Style

After reaching 7500 meters, Elisabeth Revol (France), Tomek Mackiewicz (Poland) and Arslan Ahmed Ansari (Pakistan) have ended their attempt. They had established their high camp and had the summit route scouted. The evening of their summit attempt, the temperature dropped to -50C and the winds were forecasted to pick up over the day or so. In the end, Mackiewicz is quoted as saying “there was no chance.” They had spent 10 days above base camp at that point. Mackiewicz has a long relationship with Nanga with attempts each winter over the past six years.

Nanga Dream, Justice for All – Schell Route/Rupal Side/Seige Style

The largest team on the mountain this season is said to have ended their attempt after reaching 7300 meters but there has been no communication from them in the past week. They had nine members (seven from Poland, two Pakistani) in a traditional style with fixed ropes and camps.  The Schell Route is one of the longest on Nanga and climbers usually plan on at least one bivy during their summit push. They were to have  acclimatized on Rakaposhi, 7788m, in Pakistan.

This is a video from last post on their site:

Nanga Dream 15/16 Justice for All! from Micha? Obrycki on Vimeo.

Cleo Weidlich – Rupal Side

The Brazilian born US citizen arrived at base camp along with three Sherpas. It is assumed she will take the normal route.

Best of luck to all,

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

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3 thoughts on “Nanga Parbat Plays Hard with winter Attempts

  1. Am just curious as to why it’s important for you to suggest that Cleo’s attempt is somehow diminished because she will “leverage the hard work put in by others” whereas you make no similarly disparaging comment about Tamara and Simone joining the International team after that team has already fixed the route? I understand Cleo is unpopular but she, just like you and the vast majority of 8000m summiters, are only able to top out by “leveraging” the efforts of large numbers of other teams and climbers.

    1. Thanks for your comment Delwyne. In my opinion, since if successful, this would be the first winter ascent, style is somewhat important . If someone arrives at the end of the season, simply uses the ropes put in by others then claims bragging rights resulting in “fame, money and glory” others would rightfully feel “used”. All conjecture on my part.

      For another perspective on this, please read

      As for Tamara and Simone, Tamara was very generous in her acknowledgment of the work already invested “… I feel sorry, because the team of Txicon has already done almost all the fixing work and we had not the possibility to participate in it…”

      I wish them all safety and success.

      1. Thanks, Allan for your response. Excellent point re: the notoriety that will come to whomever accomplishes the first winter Nanga ascent, and I strongly agee that expedition and climbing style as well as integrity, graciousness & humility are all important. However, there will of course only ever be one ‘first winter ascent’, and that title will be held by the first to make it to the top under thier own power regardless of alpine style or personality!
        I appreciate your posts and your efforts to raise money for alzheimers as well as your high altitude climbing accomplishments. Take good care, Delwyne

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