With the drama dissipating from K2, the Polish team remains at base camp waiting for better weather. Everest is now officially over but the debate about when winter ends, will continue forever. See this post for full background on the K2 and Everest expeditions and the history of winter attempts on the highest two mountains on Earth.
Big Picture – When does Winter End?
One of the big questions this season on both K2 and Everest is “When does winter officially end?” If you have been reading my blog you might have seen comments from readers with clear views, for example from one reader “They can summit after February, but it won’t be winter.” Other simply say it is at the Spring equinox on March 20, 2018 at 12:15 pm EDT. The reality is, it depends on where you live and the local customs and definition.
First off, both Pakistan and Nepal issue climbing permits with different fees according to the season. On Everest, for example, they charge USD$11,000 per person for a spring permit – the most popular time. But for a winter permit, the least popular time, it drops to USD$2,750. Both countries’ tourism ministry define winter as December, January and February for permit purposes. They simply take the year and divide into four equal parts. For most people born and raised in this environment, that is what defines the seasons.
However, many people, including myself, were raised and taught that the seasons are defined according to the astronomical definition which is based on how the sun hits the earth and the shortest and longest days each year, in other words the equinoxes and solstices.
Then there are the seasonal definitions influenced by length of day and temperatures. Obviously March 1 at the North Pole compared to being on the equator are very different. Also, if it a rainy time of year or dry. To make matter even more complicated, the Hindu calendar has six seasons!! But hold on, it gets worse (or different 🙂 ) Australia and New Zealand use the meteorological definition, so spring begins on September 1 each year. Ireland uses an ancient Celtic calendar system to determine the seasons, so spring begins on St Brigid’s Day on February 1. In Finland and Sweden, the dates of the seasons are not based on the calendar at all, but on temperatures. To make your head spin a bit, take a look at this chart courtesy of Scribd
So if the Poles summit K2 in March will it be winter or spring? The answer is “yes.”
K2 Team Stalled at Base Camp
Look for the K2 news to be slow for a few days. High winds and snow are keeping the Polish team in base camp. They would like to make one more acclimatization rotation above 7,000-meters before attempting the summit. Remember they are climbing without supplemental oxygen so it is mandatory they reach high altitudes to help the body prepare for the summit push.
The latest from their Facebook account :
Action mountaineering suspended due to snowfall and wind intensifying.
Denis Urubko left K2 base camp on 28 February to begin his trip home with a parting shot of “Good Spring” according to Montagna.tv.
Winter Everest – Over
The truth is that times are not easy, my biggest dream was to move from the Camp 4 to top, but the mountain is the decider, and it was impossible to move forward with these conditions. At the end of the day , the most important thing is that the whole team back safely to keep dreaming and enjoying the mountain
Txikon said he would be back next winter.
Memories are Everything