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Feb 022020
 
Icefall Serac

Winter alpine climbing and especially in the Khumbu Icefall are notorious for objective hazards, i.e., avalanches, serac releases, and falls into open crevasses or through soft snow bridges. Today we saw more evidence this winter. First to Simone Moro on Gasherbrum, now to Jonatan García on Everest. The problem with these snow bridge collapses is that they are tough to anticipate.

In 2001, I fell through one just outside of Camp 1 in the Western Cwm on Everest. I was roped in between two teammates. In those days, there were no fixed ropes. I followed Harldur, noting his footsteps, and also, a dark depression in the snow. It crossed my mind that it might be a weak bridge since the area was heavily crevassed. Just as I prepared to take an extra-large step over what I considered to be a weakness, the entire area gave way.

I was in free fall for a few meters coming to rest as the rope came taught. Harldur, in front, and Rob, behind, fell into self-arrest postures with crampons, and ice axes dug firmly into the snow to stop my fall. My feet were dangling in free air; my nose was inches from the icy wall, my pack brushed against the other side of the narrow crack.

Rob came over to the edge, calling out, “Alan, are you OK?” I yelled back, “Yes, help me out of here.” I began to dig my front points into the vertical ice wall while Rob heaved on the rope. It didn’t take too long to get me out. As I sat on my pack next to the potential tomb, my emotions grew out of control. I quietly let the tears flow, knowing that if it hadn’t been for my teammates, I might have gone to the bottom of the seemingly bottomless pit. It was a day, and a lesson I’ve never forgotten.

Everest

Txikon on Southeast Ridge – Icefall Incident

Alex Txikon and team are working to establish a safe route through the Icefall to the Western Cwm. But some days it does go as smoothly as wished.  Txikon’s posted this update on Facebook:

Today, Feb 2, started cheerfully, with a nice puja ceremony in BC. After lunch, Jonatan and I went to fix some ladders on a heavily crevassed spot in the Icefall. We were at work when there the ice bridge collapsed with a mighty crash … and Jonatan fell 12 meters in a crevasse. Luckily I carried my Petzl’s microtraxion in the harness and therefore I managed to get Jonatan back to the light. He is allright but with some injured ribs, so we have ordered an airlift tomorrow. Jonatan will be fine, but his departure is a great loss for the team.

His team includes Spaniard Oscar Cardo, Jonatan García and Nepalese Sherpas Chhiji Nurbu Sherpa, Pechhumbe Sherpa, and Tenjen Sherpa. You can follow him on his tracker.

Jost on West Ridge – Injury Recovery and Company at EBC 

German alpinist Jost Kobusch, is happy to have company at EBC but his injury is not healing as quickly as had hoped. He gave this recent update on Facebook:

The Basque alpinist Alex Txikon arrived at the base camp two days ago. Really a very nice guy with many exciting stories! He has already climbed 12 of the 14 highest mountains in the world and has completed impressive expeditions. Since 2011 he is dedicated to winter expeditions, for which he is quite famous today. (If you are curious: https://alextxikon.com/en)🧗🏽‍♂️
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I’m afraid my foot isn’t really any better. At first, I thought it was an overuse of the muscle. Unfortunately, the foot still hurts at certain angles, so for the moment it is advisable to rest it. Fortunately, February still has a few days to go 😉.

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 has now been at EBC for about a month. You can track his location on this excellent map from 3D Reality Maps.

K2 – No Os – Route to C2, Poor Weather Expected

Mingma Gyalje Sherpa‘s Imagine Nepal team are working to establish high camps on their acclimatization rotations. They have tagged their Camp 2 at 20,796.75 ft【6.339 according to John Snorri’s tracker.

Snorri posted today:

I’m back in BC. We manage to fix lines up to 6.600 meters yesterday. According to the wether forecast the wether is bad in the mountain until the 8th of February. We have certain plan of course for our K2 winter expedition, but the force of nature will have the last saying. But still the mother nature decide to warm us up with the sun today after thouse cold days.

Video from Broad peak

From Montagna.TV, this nice video from the July 2019 Broad Peak/K2 project by Austrian Max Berger. This short video, “Climb to Fly”, describes his attempt to paraglide from the summits without supplemental oxygen. He summited Broad but the conditions were not safe to fly from the top so he descended and took flight from Camp 3 at 7,100 meters. On K2, he never summited but did fly from the shoulder of K2 near High Camp. Impressive.


Winter 2019/20

Everest At 6000 meters

K2

Broad Peak, then K2?

  • Denis Urubko – Turned back at 7650m

Batura Sar – Climbing

Ama Dablam

  • Zoltán Szlankó, Alex Goldfarb

Gasherbrum I/II

  • Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger – Over. Due to injury

Climb On!
Alan
Memories are Everything

 

  2 Responses to “2019/20 Winter Himalaya Climbs: Incident in Khumbu Icefall”

  1.  

    That WAS an awesome video. Thanks for sharing. Also, thanks for these updates. I never tire of them.

  2.  

    Impressive account!

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