2019/20 Winter Himalaya Climbs: Winds Stall Climbers

High winds on Denali preventing summit attempt

Big winds have returned to Everest and the Karakorum forcing teams to remain at base camp waiting out the storm. There are expeditions on K2, Everest, Broad Peak, and the Gasherbrums plus a few others.

Big Picture

To state the obvious, climbing big peaks in the winter is all about the weather. Regardless of your fitness, skills or preparation, humans cannot survive in -100F/-73C wind chill for, well, not for long. The summit winds are hovering over 150 mph/240kmh – that’s a category 5 hurricane and we saw what that does to a place like the Bahamas last year.

The problem is that the storms will eventually let up and allow for progress but the question is always for how long. When Alex Txikon attempted his last two winter Everest attempts, he played this game and eventually had to give up due to the winds and debilitating cold after reaching a bit higher than C2 on the normal SE Ridge route on Everest.

Patience is the key.

Everest – Above Base Camp

German alpinist Jost Kobusch, age 27, is back at base camp according to his tracker. He had posted on Facebook that he and photographer Daniel Hug were going to 6,000 meters at the top of the Lho La Pass it looks like the big winds and cold temps turned them back. According to the excellent online weather app, Windy, the winds are gusting to 55 mph/88 kph at base camp and the temperature is -2F/-19C.

In review, he plans on a winter, solo Everest climb without supplemental oxygen and no Sherpa support. This exact style has never been attempted or accomplished. Jost had acclimatized on other peaks including Amotsang (6,393m), Island Peak (6,186 meters) and Pachermo Peak (6,259 meters).

Ama Dablam First

Alex Txikon is on the trek to Ama Dablam Base Camp. He last reported flying into Lukla. He is planning his third winter Everest attempt. He just finished an outing in Antarctica to explore new routes on various peaks before going to Nepal to acclimatize for Everest on Ama Dablam. His team includes Spaniard Oscar Cardo, Jonatan García and Nepalese Sherpas Chhiji Nurbu Sherpa, Pechhumbe Sherpa, and Tenjen Sherpa.

K2 – No Os – On the Trek to BC

Mingma Gyalje Sherpa‘s Imagine Nepal team should have left Askole to start the trek to K2 Base Camp today per logistics organizer Apricot Tours.  Mingma will climb without supplemental oxygen.

Broad Peak – Waiting out Storms

Broad Peak First then Maybe K2

This team has been hammered by high winds the past few days so not a lot of progress. Denis Urubko’s goal is to complete, what he considers, the first true winter ascent of Broad Peak and then, perhaps, go to K2. He is teaming with Don Bowie. Lotta Hintsa who will not attempt the summit is there to support the two climbers, but she has climbed to C1. They have established their Camp 2 at 6,200 meters. Don Bowie posted on Instagram: (click the link to see the picture)

Moonlight illuminates our dining/kitchen tent at Broad Peak/K2 base camp, elevation 4850 meters on Jan 10th, 2020. I snapped this image just before a storm hit… which has now been hammering us for 3 days straight. Wind speeds in camp hit 120km/h last night and estimated 240km/h at the summit. The extreme summit winds create this constant, low roar coming from the summit that sounds like 20 freight trains crashing into an erupting volcano. Our shower tent is shredded. The kitchen is tent battered and hastily tethered with ropes and straps and huge boulders to keep it in place. Happy to report that our @mountainhardwear Trango 3 & 4 base camp tents have taken on the storm without breaking a sweat. Big thanks to @mattburbach and team for hooking us up!! –

And Lotta Hintsa added on Instagram:

Most importantly, I washed my hair yesterday for the first time since Dec 16. But it’s also awesome that we were able to haul loads to C1 and stay for a couple of nights acclimatizing. During those days the two heros, @donbowie and Denis, chopped 100s of meters of rope out of blue ice between C1 and C2. I humbly accept that this task was over my head at this point so I only climbed to about 150m above C1 to check out their work. I was also drying out gear for hours in the tent and almost burned it down. Oops. Now we’re back in this resort called basecamp waiting out a storm…

Gasherbrum Traverse – Wating out Weather

Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger are trying to navigate the glacier and ice below the true start of the mountain.  They want to traverse the two peaks in a single push via the Gasherbrum La at 6,400 meters. Moro posted this update on Facebook:

“Finally” the first real day of bad winter weather. Snow and strong wind, so strong that at altitude, the Mountain seemed to howl. The visibility on the glacier is almost zero and it is difficult to distinguish the contours and depths. Our track is covered but we hope that the flags and the GPS track will allow us to reopen the path as soon as conditions improve. It seems that at least for over the next 24 hours the weather will remain very bad and so we take the opportunity to rest…


Winter 2019/20



Broad Peak, then K2?

  • Denis Urubko – at base camp

Gasherbrum I/II

  • Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger – at base camp

Ama Dablam

  • Zoltán Szlankó, Alex Goldfarb

Climb On!
Memories are Everything


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One thought on “2019/20 Winter Himalaya Climbs: Winds Stall Climbers

  1. Pretty stiff winds on Broad Peaks summit, but not near the Mt. Washington record. We never used metric in the old days, but it would be more impressive to have called it 371 KPH than a paltry 231 MH 🙂 Now the cold…thats another story. Thanks for the update Alan!

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