This week both the Everest and K2 team should make huge progress. Over on Nanga Parbat, the two-person team will attempt to summit midweek. 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.
Entering their third week, both the K2 and Everest teams continue to set the route and acclimatize. They are busy establishing the low camps i.e. under 7000-meters before moving higher.
The Polish team reports excellent weather for the first time in a few days. They continue to rotate climbers up the Česen Route aka Basque Route in two or three person teams to fix the route.
Today they noted they were able to establish a small Camp 1 about 5,900-meters. The ridge is very steep and there is little room for even one tent in many spots.
Climber Jarosław Botor posted 26 pictures on his Facebook feed. It gives a good idea of what they are facing.
Denis Uruboko posted an update on fixing the lower part of the route from a few days ago. He said it was extremely windy and took them about an hour to reach the base of the Česen ridge from base camp.
They investigated fixed ropes last set by Russell Brice’s Himalayan Experience 2017 summer effort on the Česen but were deeply embedded in the ice and impossible to pull out. Even if they could retrieve them, they would have been rotten due to the exposure from direct sun at this extreme altitude.
He went on to add that the climbing was on hard black ice meaning the ice covered the black rocks of the ridge. As they approached 6,000-meters the winds really picked up. He felt that they had gone as high as possible given the conditions. This may be the story throughout their expedition – to take what the mountain will allow.
I am told by their home team that there is less snow than they expected and more hard ice and rocks, so they must be mindful of rockfall. This is one of the key dangers climbing K2 by any route.
Denis Urubko has a nice post with an overview of their effort thus far. This picture shows the route:
Alex Txikon and five Sherpas have fixed the ropes through the Khumbu Icefall and reached Camp 2 at 21,000’/6400m. However, this week Alex Txikon, Ali Sadpara, Pemba Bhote Sherpa and Nuri Sherpa summited nearby Pumori Peak at 23,419’/7138-meters – equivalent to Camp 3 on the Lhotse Face. This is a rare event these days given many climbers avoid Pumori due to avalanche danger.
Tixkon posted on facebook:
Pumori was first summited by the German team of Gerhard Lenser, Ernst Farrer, Ueli Huerlemann, Hans Ruetzel on 17 May, 1962. Since then, there have been 507 summits and 41 deaths – 19 from avalanches and 13 from falls. Pumori has a death rate of 2.13 compared to Everest’s 1.22. The most recent summit prior to Txikon was by a Czech Republic team on 1 November 2011. There were unsuccessful attempts in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 on multiple routes.
Tomek Mackiewicz and Elisabeth Revol over on Nanga Parbat are reported to go for the summit this upcoming Wednesday. They made an attempt over the weekend but turned back due to winds. They are staying at a camp at 7,000-meters to wait for better conditions. This will be their only attempt. If they don’t make it, it’s over for this trip. This is the seventh attempt for the 42 year-old Polish climber, Mackiewicz.
Quiet Winter Climbs
There are several other climbs this winter but they are not updating from their base camps so I will list them for reference only:
- A small team of Pakistani climbers are attempting the first winter summit 7200 meter Masherbrum West Peak aka Masherbrum 2. Lead by Maaz Maqsood.
- Another big winter climb is by Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger on a very northern peak in Siberia, Pik Pobeda, 3003 meters, in the Chersky Range region.
Memories are Everything