After six weeks of preparation and waiting, the winter Everest summit bid has started. The Polish K2 team is back at base camp waiting out a few days of weather.
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.
Winter K2 – Waiting for Weather Window
The entire Polish team is back at base camp except for Martin Kaczkan who slept at C1. Only Denis Urubko and Adam Bielecki have slept at 7300m, which expedition leader Krzysztof Wielicki had said previously was the requirement to go on the summit push. We will see if he holds to that for the rest of the team. They have camp 3 established around 7300m. There are a few nice pictures of them climbing on their website. Wspinie.pl has a good interview with Bielecki. One comment caught my attention when he talked about the wind saying at time it was gusting to 100kph/60mph knocking him around:
Wind 20 to 40 km / h is not something that makes a big impression on us. Above 40 km / h there is a problem. It is very important whether they are gusts or constant wind. Up to 7000 m with a wind of 40 km / h, with gusts up to 70 km / h, it can work, if there are higher values it is already hard. We at the descent had gusts above 80 km / h, and even reaching hundreds. Then it is very hard, any manipulation is difficult, even getting into the exit, the snow is blowing in the eyes.Every climber knows what it’s like to be a dupe in the wall. Especially that it is cold.
Winter Everest – Summit Bid Underway
Alex Txikon, Muhammad Ali Sadpara and team are now at Camp 2, 6500m/21,325′, targeting a weekend summit date. The weather window appears to be a few days so they probably will not rush as in leaving for the summit from Camp 3, but instead get to the South Col, establish camp and rest for a few hours then leave. The key will be to move fast since the temperatures are brutally cold, -40C/F on the summit. If the wind blows at 30mph/45kph that puts the windchill at a deadly -80F/-62C. They are not using supplemental oxygen which makes the risk even higher. It was the wind near the South Col that stopped Txikon last year.
There are 5 Sherpas with them, names unknown, but most certainly include Pemba Bhote Sherpa and Nuri Sherpa who summited Pumori with Txikon and Sadpara a few weeks ago. Also, I suspect Fursang Sherpa, Dawa Rinji and Tanjing Sherpa are with them.
The time has come. We are already in Camp 2, the whole team ready waiting for good weather. First and last chance to get to the summit of Everest in winter without artificial oxygen. We expect the summit day to be on the 24th or 25th. We need all your support! GO!
Everest Winter History
With this bid underway, let’s look at the history for a moment. A paltry 0.2% of all summits since 1953 have occurred in the winter.
The Himalayan Database reports that the last successful winter summit was in 1993 and the only previous summit without supplemental oxygen was by Ang Rita Sherpa in 1987. Technically winter begins on the winter solstice on December 21st or 22nd and ends on March 20th.
To add to some controversy, the solstice in 1987 was on December 22nd at 4:45:13 and Ang Rita summited at 15:20.
There have been 21 winter expeditions with only five making the summit.
Memories are Everything