A huge program has been announced by Alex Txikon who may be one of the few climbers on the planet qualified to attempt climbing Everest in the winter without supplemental oxygen.
He and teammates, Simone Moro and Muhammad Ali Sadpara knocked off Nanga Parbat last winter leaving on K2 as the last 8000er without a winter summit. An effort for a winter K2 summit by Polish climber Krzysztof Wielicki was canceled due to lack of funds.
As for Everest, Txikon announced on his website that he and a small team will arrive in Nepal on Christmas day to begin a two month effort to summit Everest using the normal route from Nepal.
Let’s look at the history for a moment. A paltry 0.2% of all summits since 1953 have occurred in the winter.
The Himalayan Database reports that the last successful winter summit was in 1993 and the only previous summit without supplemental oxygen was by Ang Rita Sherpa in 1987. Technically winter begins on the winter solstice on December 21st or 22nd and ends on March 20th.
To add to some controversy, the solstice in 1987 was on December 22nd at 4:45:13 and Ang Rita summited at 15:20.
There have been 21 winter expeditions with only five successful summits:
Txikon is 35 years old and will be joined by a 28 year old Spanish climber, Carlos Rubio, who is better known for extreme skiing than climbing. They will be joined by Aitor Barez, the expedition movie director and Pablo Magister who will serve as cameramen.
It appears that they will promote the climb over social media with drones and real time video. There will be five Sherpa who will fix the route through the Khumbu Icefall.
The weather is the foremost problem facing the climbers. In January, the coldest month, the summit temperature averages -36° C (-33° F) and can drop as low as -60° C (-76° F). According to the Weather Underground on February 2004 the winds reached 280 km/h or 174 mph.
This season, has not been kind to those attempting to summit. Autumn 2016 saw speed climb Kilian Jornet and Japanese solo climber, Nobukazu Kuriki stopped on the north side by deep snow. Several first ascents in Nepal were also stopped in the last few months due to dangerous snow conditions.
Txikon is no stranger to difficult conditions as reported on Explorers Web for his attempt on Gasherbrum I in 2012:
Although this winter is turning out much harder than 2011 – except for the first 10 days, which were amazing. And toughing it through the winter season gets harder and harder each day no matter how experienced you are.
Best of luck to all,
Memories are Everything