For the first time since 1979, there will be an attempt on a rarely climbed Everest route. K2 climbers arrive in Pakistan for a no O’s K2 Winter attempt and progress on Broad Peak. It’s getting serious now! There are expeditions on K2, Everest, Broad Peak, and the Gasherbrums plus a few others.
Everest – Taking West Ridge
The route is set! It will be the west ridge. Until the first camp at 6000 meters the complete rock could be fixed with 3 pitches. To climb the partly very hard climbing sections solo was really challenging. In the next day’s Daniel and I will climb up to camp one for documentation purposes – after that I will start solo.
He always said he wanted to try the West Ridge but took his time to explore other possibilities. January 1, 2020, his route tracker showed him taking a hike approaching the Lho La Pass. This from his tracker:
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). Most Everest climbers, especially those not using supplemental oxygen try to reach 8,000 meters before making a summit attempt thus I had expected him, at the very least, to go to 7,000 meters before attempting the summit but it appears he will not make that investment.
This precise route has only been climbed twice. It begins from Nepal’s Everest Base Camp then up the Lho La Pass at 6,000 meters/19,685 feet then skirts around the West Shoulder and onto the West Ridge reaching the Hornbein Couloir then the summit. The decent has been either the West Ridge or the standard Southeast Ridge.
According to the Himalayan Database, Yugoslavian Andrej Stremfelj, Nejc Zaplotnic, Stane Belak-Srauf, and Stipe Bozic, with Ang Phu Sherpa, who died during the descent, was the first expedition to summit using the Lho La/West Ridge on May 13 and 15, 1979. All used supplemental oxygen.
Another team was successful on May 8 and 9 1984 using a variation on the Khumbutse Peak at 6,636 meters/ 21,772 feet; Bulgarians Metodi Stefanov, Ivan Georgiev, Kiril Dimitrov, and Nikolay Mihaylov. All used supplemental oxygen. Christo Ivanov, also on their team, made the attempt without oxygen and died on the descent on April 20, 1984.
In 1989, five climbers died from an avalanche off Khumbutse’s East Face. Famous for his solo attempts, Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki made a solo, unsupported, no Os attempt on the West Ridge starting from the Cwm in 2012. He had reached the base of the Hornbein Couloir when he called for help. Sherpas from his base camp were sent to meet him as he descended from the West Ridge. He had reported cold hands, could not move his fingers and had frostbite on his nose. He lost his fingers to frostbite. Nobukazu made multiple attempts on Everest and perished on his eighth attempt on May 20, 2018.
Of course, the West Ridge/Hornbein route was pioneered by Tom Hornbein and Willie Unsoeld in 1963. They reached the Ridge from the Western Cwm, not the Lho La Pass.
K2 – No Os!
K2 Confirmed – Team arriving in Pakistan
Most of Mingma Gyalje Sherpa‘s Imagine Nepal team has arrived in Pakistan according to a message I received from Mingma plus his logistics organizer Apricot Tours. Only Mingma and Gao are not there but scheduled to arrive mid-week.
The team includes:
- Mingma Gyalje Sherpa (Nepal)
- Tamting Sherpa (Nepal)
- Pasang Namgel Sherpa (Nepal)
- Kili Pempa Sherpa (Nepal)
- John Snorri Sigurionsson (Iceland)
- Gao Li (China)
- Tomaz Rotar (Slovenia)
Mingma has been criticized for planning to use supplemental oxygen. I assume he feared his summit would not be respected if he did so. Today he announced he would not use Os. It is unclear if the rest of the team will.
Antarctica Complete, Now Nepal
Alex Txikon 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. He is now traveling back home and then on to Nepal.
Safe and sound on the mainland! We have arrived just in time to catch the plane back home, but soon I will tell you everything I lived in the Antarctic Peninsula and in the Ocean. Above all, navigation has been a really hard experience, but from which I have learned some very valuable lessons.
Broad Peak – Rotations have begun to 5,100 meters
Broad Peak First then Maybe K2
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 and Lotta Hintsa who will stay in base camp to support the two climbers. They have made a couple of rotations to 5,100 meters and cached gear. On January 2, 2020, Bowie posted on IG:
First day on the mountain proper for me… Denis Urubko and I reached Camp 1 on Broad Peak at 5800m in 4hrs from base camp. Not bad time considering the tough conditions. The route we set dances a delicate line between heinous, avalanche-prone snow slabs, and bullet-hard blue ice. In summer this section is quite easy and straightforward, but in winter the mountain is stripped of snow, leaving bare ice and loose rock, and pockets of unstable snow. Despite my frosted face (and looking a bit weary from nearly 3 weeks of chest infections and illness) the day was actually quite warm… ahem, I mean, relatively speaking
Gasherbrum Traverse – Acclimatization
Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger have arrived at the base camp for G I/II. They want to traverse the two peaks in a single push via the Gasherbrum La at 6,400 meters. Tama Luger made this update on their progress yesterday:
Today’s training and acclimatization hike along the main glacier with a view of the G1 and G2 that we will have to climb and cross when we attempt the ascent. Today covered about 14 km and reached an altitude of about 5500 with bad and foggy weather with moderate wind.
- Mingma Gyalje Sherpa – soon
Broad Peak, then K2?
- Denis Urubko – on the trek
- Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger – in Pakistan
- Zoltán Szlankó, Alex Goldfarb
Memories are Everything