UPDATE 2: 16 March 2019: They established their Camp 3 at 7,050-meters a bit short of traditional C3 at 7,200-meters/24,000-feet. This is just over the crest of the Black Pyramid. They report the winds are extremely strong but they will continue to climb towards the summit if the weather allows. The next day will be critical as it gets into a fairly open area until they reach the Bottleneck, where a different set of challenges emerge. Tomorrow’s wind chill will be -50C/-50F. They sound optimistic but realistic.
UPDATE: 15 March 2019: They are just below House Chimney, slightly lower than traditional Camp 2 which is horribly windy. They report the winds have calmed and are going to Camp 3 Friday 16 March.
While no clear objective has been stated, it’s assumed that Alex Txikon and team are on their K2 summit bid today. He had previously said he would return in the summer of 2019 for an attempt thus he may be scouting out the route this time, but that seems quite dangerous to do a practice run in winter for a summer summit bid.
There are many questions at this point including if their camps above C2 are established and stocked by the Sherpas who stayed at K2 during the Nanga event, how high is the route fixed, are they gong to use any of the Russian lead team’s kit already on the mountain? Of course, Alex had hinted at climbing in alpine style thus all these questions would be moot.
His tracker, showed a high point above Camp 2 but no details are available who was there or if supplies were left. That was over two weeks ago – a lifetime in the harsh weather of K2.
Remember that he and Felix Criado, Ignacio de Zuloaga and Dr. Josep Sanchis spent over a week on Nanga Parbat assisting in the search effort for Tom Ballard and Daniel Nardi and that must have taken a toll – physically and emotionally.
They were hoping to be the first climbers to summit K2 in the astronomical winter season (winter solstice thru vernal equinox) instead of the meteorological winter (December thru February.) They would need to summit no later than 02:58 March 21, 2019, local time.
In an interview with Atrem Brown by Wspinanie.pl, the subject of winter definition came up once again:
We take note of the calendar winter, but in our countries [Artem is referring to Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and possibly other countries of the former Soviet Union – ed.], The principle for climbing, according to which winter lasts from November 15 to March 15. For us, however, this is not a hard rule. It is more important to understand how to look this winter in the mountains.
Txikon At C1
They were last reported at ABC and Camp 1. The weather looks decent for the next few days but the real story will develop once they leave Camp 4 and into the Bottleneck and Traverse.
Txikon posted on Facebook:
The time has come. We are ready. K2 has given us unique and unrepeatable moments… we will never forget what we have lived here. We have innovated, we have grown as a person and as a mountaineer and above all we have felt loved and supported. I would say that even more than in my whole career. You have been with me from the beginning, every step of the way. I have done more than 30 expeditions, but the atmosphere surrounding the mountain will never cease to amaze me.
Tomorrow, Thursday, Cheppal, Walung, Geljen, Pasang and I will go up to Camp 1, while Felix and Ignacio went to Advanced Base Camp this morning. Nuri will not be able to continue on the adventure as he has returned home to recover from frostbite. Thank you very much for all your help.
We will do everything in our hands to climb the mountain, but always keeping a cool head and thinking that our goal is to return to Base Camp. Because that is the moment when the summit becomes reality…and we want to continue sharing with you each and every adventure. Thank you very much to all the sponsors and collaborators who make this possible. Thank you for supporting mountaineering.
The RUS-KAZ-KG team has left base camp and may already be back home by now after topping out around 7,500-meters/24,965-feet when stopped by poor weather.
Memories are Everything