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Feb 202018

With continued good weather, the Polish K2 team reached their highest point yet. On Everest, good news, bad news. Both expeditions have set early March for serious decisions.

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. Both expeditions need to summit no later than the spring equinox on March 20, 2018, at 0:15 PKT for K2 and 18:00 NPT for Everest to meet a winter summit definition.

Big Picture

A reasonable question is why the Polish team on K2 is making such good progress on the Abruzzi compared to the Cesen. There are several factors. First, they know this route well. Most of the climbers were there last summer (2017) to get familiar with the route. Second, while rockfall is still present, it is less, thus far, than on the Cesen so they probably move faster with slightly less angst. Third, they are all acclimatized and rested. And finally, they are motivated knowing the clock is ticking closer to 20 March – the end of winter. And of course, these are strong, strong climbers.

Over on Everest, another fair question is if the team have lost their acclimatization after waiting several weeks since they touched almost 8,00-meters. Well, they probably would have preferred to sleep at the South Col since they are not using supplemental oxygen, but it appears they mix “active rest days” in with their time at EBC. This keeps their body used to working at altitude and the red blood cells active. Remember that EBC is at 17,500’/5300m so it is high.

Winter K2 – Pushing Hard

The Polish team are pushing extremely hard to get the route in. Expedition leader Krzysztof Wielicki has targeted early March for a summit push saying that any of his climbers who have slept at 7,300-meters will be given the opportunity to summit. Remember they are not using supplemental oxygen, so the usual process is to sleep as high as possible before going above 8,000-meters. K2 is 8,611-meters. 

There are three pairs of climbers currently doing rotations up and down the Abruzzi Ridge. They need to space themselves due to usually only one tent at each camp. They will bring more tents to the High Camp before launching their bid. High Camp, aka C4, is at 25,080’/7600m. Adam Bielecki and Denis Urubko touched 7,400-meters before returning to 7,200-meters C3, to sleep. Maciej Bedrejczuk, Janusz Golab, Marcin Kaczkan and Darek Zaluski have all slept at Camp 2, 22,110’/6700m. It appears all climbers will return to base camp on Wednesday due to poor weather returning, maybe for 5 days.

Bielecki and Urubko found a good route to High Camp, which is usually around 7,600-meters. This section between C3 and C4 is one long snow slope with no technical challenges but there is significant avalanche danger. In 2013, guide Marty Schmidt were killed along with his son, Denali, as they slept in their tent at Camp 3.

Leaving C3 for C4 on K2 in 2014. by Alan Arnette

Leaving C3 for C4 on K2 in 2014. by Alan Arnette

On the team Facebook page they thanked the four Pakistani High Altitude Porters: Amin Ullah, Fazal Ali, Jalal – all from Shimshal Valley in Hunza and Saddik Sadpara who is from Lake Sadpara. The Polish climbers wrote

These are experienced climbers – Amin and Saddik have in your account after 5 eight-thousanders, and Fazal came to K2 twice. Another thing that they are more prepared for summer conditions, taking into account their equipment. During our trip did not use supplemental oxygen.

We would like to thank the Pakistani climbers for their hard work and dedication that they put into this expedition. Without them we would not be where we are now.

Gentlemen – THANKS A LOT!!! Members of the National Winter Expedition on K2

K2 Winter 2018 HAPS

K2 Winter 2018 HAPS:  Amin Ullah, Marcin Bedrejczuk,  Fazal Ali and Jalaludin

Finally Rafal Froni posted a video on his Facebook feed showing an avalanche heading towards him. The text says this was when a rock hit and broke his forearm on 9 February. It is startling video.

You can follow them directly on their website, Facebook, and SPOT tracker

Winter Everest – Timeline Set

Alex Txikon and team remained active while waiting for the winds to calm on the summit. That is the good news. The bad news is they took a climb to Camp 2 and found their tents destroyed by wind. They also had to repair the route in the Khumbu Icefall. Nether of these are particularly troubling and I’m sure they are prepared for this with some spare tents.

Teammate Muhammad Ali Sadpara posted on facebook “Team leader Alex says we’ll continue our attempts until March 10.” They expect a weather window to emerge – a time of low winds on the summit – next week.

Just as on K2, the Everest team is supported with local talent. They have several Sherpas from Seven Summits Treks: Txikon posted on Facebook:

Winter Everest Sherpas

Winter Everest Sherpas

– Chandra Tamang: One of the responsibility of keeping us fed. It’s the firts expedición together, but although he is very young he has a lot of experience with more than 20 expeditions. He is marvellous and always helping us in everything we need. He has two sons and originary he is from Solukhumbu valley, where we are. It’s a pleasure to meet you!

– Fursang sherpa: It is the second time we work together, any problem with our feather jackets, Fursang takes care of it. Since 2013 he has worked on expeditions as a sherpa and as a member of the Base Camp. He has participate it in expeditions of the beautiful Ama Dablam mountain three times. He is also father of 2 sons and he was born in this región of Nepal. You are an artist!

– Dawa Rinji: He is the oldest of the expedition with his 59 years. He makes everything easier, as his predisposition, affection and kindness are incredible. He has more than 30 years of experience in different expeditions and after we met in Nuptse we have work together in more than four ocassions. He has 3 daughters and he is from the Makalu region. You’re the best one!

– Tanjing sherpa: It’s the second time we work together. He has 7 years of experience in different expeditions. He was born in 1981 in Solukhumbu valley and he has 4 children. You’re a wonderful person. has an interesting post reporting the Winter Everest expedition is significantly more expense than last year’s effort that cost  €225,000 ($277,787)

The 2017/18 expedition has cost 335,000 Euros ($413,594), divided into:

  • €150,000 ($185,223) for the Nepalese agency, its services and the Sherpas
  • €80,000 ($98,780) for the technical material and equipment
  • €12,000 ($1,234)for flights and Logistics
  • € 22,000 ( $27,161) for communications
  • €11,000 ($13,580) for food
  • €60,000 ($74,089) for salaries and external suppliers

Of this figure, €110,000 ($135,823) is what was collected with sponsors, including materials provided; are between 100,000 and 120,000 euro money stories from Txikon. There are still discovered about €105,000 ($129,660).

You can follow them directly on Alex’s GPS tracker,  Twitter,  Instagram, and Facebook.

Climb On!
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