Alex Txikon’s team is back on Everest for what will be their last push to summit Everest in winter. They need to top out by March 20 to claim that prize.
LATEST: Their GPS tracker still shows them at Camp 2 as of this post midnight, Wednesday March 7 Everest time. They should be on their way to the summit, somewhere near the Balcony, to miss the high winds. Let’s hope the tracker is not working or turned off.
Recovering from First Attempt
After a difficult first attempt, they retreated to Kathmandu, somewhat under duress (see this recap of that effort) for 8 days. They ate, slept and recovered. A climber will usually keep their acclimatization for a few weeks once achieved, so the 8 day rest at 5,000 feet will not impact this acclimatization and allow him to recover.
Txikon swapped out original crew of Sherps for reasons not cited. Most likely the Sherpas, who work for Seven Summits Treks, are committed to work on Everest for the spring season and need to rest up. They will start setting with Base Camp in a few weeks.
Txikon will be climbing with five Sherpas who will all be using supplemental oxygen, Txikon will not use supplemental Os. The plan is for Txikon and Nuri Sherpa to go to the summit. It appears that Txikon’s cameraman and and other teammate will not be on the summit push.
Reinhold Messner was in Nepal and flew to Base Camp to wish Txikon the best as he left for Camp 2 on 6 March. Their last location per their GPS tracker showed them there. Remember, that tracker has been inaccurate several times over the past couple of months.
When they returned from Kathmandu, the team had to reestablish 60% of the route thru the Khumbu Icefall. The Icefall moves constantly, sometimes as much as 3 feet a day in some sections, so ladders will fall into crevasses and ropes will be lost.
This is the Last Attempt
Txikon posted on his Facebook page:
TIME TO GO FOR IT! We are already in the 2C where we will spend the night and leave at dawn. With the strength that Messner has transmitted to us, we have come upwards with our eyes set on the balmy 8848 meters that reaches our dream. In the last weeks, the weather has not played in our favor, but we have a very small truce until Wednesday; Moment in which we will try to finish the adventure. Nuri, my Nepalese companion, will accompany me to the top and German, Temba, Sanu and Pasang Nurbu will be our support.Until now, the wind does not stop and hit us hard, but the mere fact of having the opportunity to try, pushes us forward.Fingers crossed. I need you more than ever to be with me.Let’s go for the last attempt!
The largest challenge in climbing almost any mountain in winter are the winds. This is what stopped them last time. Windchills were near -100F. It remains to be seen if the weather cooperates this time. As this forecast shows, the SUMMIT winds are forecasted to remain high with extremely cold temperatures over the next few days, but there is a tiny window on Wednesday morning.
At some point the Txikon will lose the physical strength for another summit attempt. He had already lost over 25 pounds on the first push. My general rule of thumb is that if you lose 10% of your body weight, you will not have the strength to summit. That said, Txikon is an unusually strong and fit climber as proven on his winter summit of Nanga Pabart last year.
This is the latest from the computer model from Mountain Forecast for the summit of Everest:
Nepal Wants more Money?
In a strange twist, the Nepal newspaper The Himalayan Times, is reporting that the Ministry of Tourism is asking Txikon to pay $11,000 for another climbing permit. They claim that the winter permit he bought expires at the end of February.
Again, follow their ascent from his GPS tracker. Warning, this system has been somewhat unreliable throughout their climb.
Best of luck to Alex and team. The whole mountaineering world is pulling for their safe ascent, summit and return.
Memories are Everything