Ropes to C1 on Winter K2, Press Negativity Abounds

K2 Camp 1: 19,965'/6050m

The fixed ropes have been set almost to Camp 1 around 19,965-feet/6050-meters. And Mingma G’s small team arrived at Base Camp. It appears all attempts will use the Abruzzi Spur. With winter well underway, the wind chill is consistently hovering around -60F/-51C.

Icelander John Snorri Sigurjonsson posted on Facebook on Thursday, December 17, 2020:

We managed to fix lines all the way up to camp 1 today. It was sun part of the day and -25 celcius. Tomorrow we will head back to base camp, because we are totally exhausted after this day.

He is teaming with Muhammad Ali Sadpara and his son Sajid Ali. Aschar Ali Porik of Jasmine Tours is providing the logistics. You can follow them on their tracker.

The Climb to C1

The climb from Advanced Base Camp to C1 is not terribly difficult but is strenuous, steep, and the first time above 6,000-meters for most climbers. The angles begin at 20-30 degrees and increase to between 40 and 50 near C1 at 19,965-feet/6050-meters. It is mostly snow-covered but does have a few rocky sections. This is when climbers must be extremely careful not to kick the loose rock on climbers below. This is one of my primary concerns once everyone arrives and begins to make their rotations. Click the images for a larger view.

En Route

Mingma Gyalje Sherpa with no foreigners and two Sherpa teammates have arrived at Base Camp. Mingma gave this update:

Today we reached k2 BC. We had too much snow from Kurbuche to k2 bc. we will take two days complete rest and then plan our climbing. HELLO K2.

Mingma summited K2 in 2014 and 2017 plus made an ill-fated winter attempt last year. He will not be using supplemental oxygen. The rest of the team includes Dawa Tenzing Sherpa and Kili Pemba Sherpa. Their Pakistan logistic is being managed by Lela Peak Expedition.

And the Rest for K2

There are at least two other teams (at least more may show up!):

Seven Summits Treks: 25++ clients supported by 21 Sherpas. SST gave this update on Wednesday:

1st Sherpa Team Departed from Skardu to Askole this morning.

The entire team is over 55 people and includes Noel Hanna from Ireland, Arnold Coster from the Netherlands, Atanas Skatov from Bulgaria, Waldemar Kowalewski from Poland, Antonis Sykaris from Greece, and Luis Carlos Garranzo Ibanez from Spain. Other nationalities represented are Slovenian, Romanian, Swiss, Italian, Chilen, American, and Finnish mountaineers. These members will arrive in Islamabad between December 16 to 21 and should arrive at Base Camp about 8 days later or late December.

Irishman Noel Hanna told the Belfast Telegraph:

I haven’t had any real preparations this year because I haven’t been in the mountains with the Covid pandemic. It will be my most difficult expedition and I don’t know how I’ll cope with the cold. I can only wait and see how I get on. I’m not going to be stupid and risk the chance of losing fingers and toes just to get to the summit.

Nirmal Purja Purja Purja Purja: has confirmed he is going but still no details, other than a lot of selfies on his social media. Apparently, he has not left home for Pakistan. There are reports that 19-year-old French climber, Marie-Pier Desharnais, will be a client on Nim’s team along with 35-year-old Candian, Marie Pierre Desharnais. It’s reported they will all use the base camp services of Seven Summits Treks.

Update: I reached out to Marie Pier Desharnais to confirm her intentions and she told me:

Hi Alan, thanks for reaching out dear. No, at this time I cannot confirm but if things do change, I promise to let you know

UPDATE: More PR Stunts

Also, Colin O’Brady of challenged claims of polar exploration has announced he will join Nirmal Purja Purja Purja Seven Summits Treks on K2 winter, in spite of a lack of winter 8000er experience. It seems that Nirmal Purja Purja Purja is loading his team with clients to fund the climb. Colin said on IG:

Tomorrow I depart to take on one of the greatest challenges of my life. I’m teaming up with my dear friend and long time climbing partner @drjonkedski to attempt to climb K2 this winter. K2 is the second highest mountain in the world standing 28,251ft tall. While it is slightly shorter than Everest, K2 is widely considered a much more difficult and dangerous climb.

13 of the 14 tallest peaks in the world (the 8000M peaks) have been climbed in winter. K2 remains the only peak of this stature unclimbed during the harshest season. The first winter ascent of K2 has been called, “one of the last remaining great prizes in mountaineering.”

Follow along…the adventure begins now!! Dr. Jon and I depart for Pakistan tomorrow…@jennabesaw will be making the 70 mile trek to basecamp with us as well! I’ll be keeping a live tracker of my progress and sharing real-time content updates here on Instagram. I can’t wait to share the journey with you all. More info can be found on my website.

I can’t wait to take on the “impossible” yet again!

As for his climbing partner, he has a dubious reputation here in Colorado for his antics. This will be interesting as to how this turns out. I hope without injuries and death.

Overall it looks like there will be over 60 climbers this winter, similar to a normal summer season.

Solo, Supported, Unsupported?

I’m starting to read that climbers are describing their efforts as solo, unsupported, or supported; even the ones that are on the Seven Summits Trek’s commercial team.  Clearly, no one is solo as in 100% self-supported and alone as Messner was on Everest in 1980, and even he had a base camp cook.

Unsupported suggests the climber carries all their own gear, including tents to the high camps, fixes their own ropes, places ladders if necessary, and cooks all their own food. In my mind with over 25 Sherpas and other support on the mountains, tents already setup, including a massive cook tent with meals served in a different tent, there are no “unsupported” climbers this season. So that leaves us with “supported”, and that describes every person on K2 this winter.

I’m not making any judgments as to good or bad, just asking for accuracy when climbers promote their efforts on social media, sponsors, and to the press.

Climbers Speak Out

There appears to a growing negative sentiment, or perhaps resentment, about this year’s winter K2 effort from a few of the big names in mountaineering.

Adam Bielecki, a leading Polish climber, said in an interview with WP Sportowe Fakty, about this year’s winter K2 attempt and why he had no interest in joining plus the current commercialization of Everest:

It is important for me to enter without oxygen. In addition, the expedition must consist of strong climbers, whom I trust. It must also fasten everything perfectly organizationally. The success of an expedition to high mountains is always a derivative of many factors. I was not convinced that this year’s expeditions would guarantee that for me.

If we go in there with oxygen, we will show human weakness. We cheat, we will not defeat nature. We know that we can climb K2 with oxygen. Is it possible without oxygen? This is an open question. I do not know the answer. That is why it is the real goal.

And on Everest:

Now it’s a typically commercial mountain. Therefore, it has ceased to be a mountain for us. The crowds bother me because I like to climb on my own rules, i.e. without oxygen, in a small group, in peace and quiet. It’s probably not possible yet.

Simone Moro chimed in on the K2 attempt and the members with this pithy jab to Explorer’s Web
“Most of these clients will get to BC,” Moro notes, “spend one or two weeks there, suffering like crazy, then run back home, with the entire fee paid but only five percent of the services used. From a business point of view, it’s really smart, while not so good for the history of alpinism.”
And German climber, Jost Kobusch, who aims to solo Everest West Ridge in winter one day, told Explorer’s Web:
“The commercialization of alpinism consists of selling extraordinary first ascents to ordinary people. I don’t doubt some will be skilled and experienced, but it’s hard to believe that in such a large group, all of them are.”

Other 8000er

There are also plans on nearby Broad Peak. Russian-American Alex Goldfarb and Hungarian Zoltan Szlankó are planning a climb, hoping to ski from the summit. Over on Manaslu, long-time climbers, Simone Moro and Alex Txikon will go for a winter summit.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

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3 thoughts on “Ropes to C1 on Winter K2, Press Negativity Abounds

  1. I’ll defend Colin here. He’s a good person who creates challenges. He has a compelling story. I’ve seen him at the Explorers Club. If you have a chance, read about him. He does have combing experience.

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