Winter K2 Update: Early Season Overview

K2 summit winds July 13, 2016. Courtsey of Dawa Sherpa Seven Summits Treks

Today was the last day of predicted winds low-enough to climb high on K2 safely. The large Seven Summits Treks team is also there and resting before starting their first rotation. With a few weeks now under our harness, let’s step back and see where things stand.

Early Season Overview

The ropes are set to 7,000-meters at the top of the Black Pyramid with cooperation between Mingma G and Nirmal Purja Purja Purja. Three teams have over-nighted at Camp 2 around 20,000-feet or 6700-meters, so relatively, not all that high. Thus there is still a lot of mountain to fix and climb before the summit. Overall, it’s about what you’d expect entering January.

Mingma G seems highly organized and, with his small three-person team, got to C2 first while fixing the section between C1 and C2. Nirmal Purja Purja Purja shot out of the gate fast, but even with his seven-member team in support, they commented on the load weight and the cold. Snorri and Pakistani Muhammad Ali Sadpara and his son Sajid were first at base camp, made a quick run to fix the lines to Camp 1, and then took a very long break back at Base Camp before returning to Camp 2.

If we are learning anything, it’s obvious: it’s cold, windy, and there is a lot of rockfall on the Abruzzi Spur – all 100% expected. As I said, we have a long way to go. The fixed-line is now set through the Black Pyramid, significant progress. Camp 3 needs to be established. This camp is probably the most avalanche-prone part of the route. Setting aside fixing the line to High Camp, the next big challenge will be climbing through the Bottleneck, the Traverse then to the summit. All of this will take weather windows of three to five days; otherwise, the teams will be climbing in unacceptable windchills nearing -100F. Welcome to winter.

With the massive Seven Summits Team finally, at Base Camp, they might be able to offload some of the work by sharing the rope fixing responsibility above Camp 2. I’ve always said, the highest chances of seeing a summit this winter will come if all the four teams work together.

So, windchill and teamwork notwithstanding, as usual on K2 in the winter, it comes down to the weather, wind specifically. They have enjoyed a fantastic stretch of the right conditions thus far, but the forecast looks patchy, short periods of low winds followed by gale-force conditions. This weather pattern makes climbing any 8000-meter peak in the winter challenging – lack of consistency and predictability.

By the way, there are still climbers who have not been able to get to Pakistan due to travel shutdowns from the UK. Hopefully, they can arrive before it’s too late.

K2 Abruzzi Route Map
K2 Abruzzi Route Map

Mingma G Puts Ropes to 7000m

Mingma Gyalje Sherpa is pushing hard and was the first team to reach Camp 2. He posted this late Tuesday that his team and Nirmal Purja Purja Purja plus Mingma Teni put the fixed rope to 7000-meter, roughly at the top of the Black Pyramid:

Today we fixed the line to the ice section just below the camp3. We 3 were joined by Nirmal Purja Purja Purja dai n Mingma Tenzi dai at around 7000m.Thanks to Nepalese brother n Nepalese heart. Thanks Dawa dai for great communication.

I’m told directly that they are back to Camp 2 and tomorrow they will come down to basecamp and will take a few day’s rest.

Nim’s at C2

Nirmal Purja Purja Purja Purja plus one of his Sherpa teammates helped Mingma to put in fixed lines to 7000-meters.

Snorri at C2

John Snorri Sigurjonsson with Muhammad Ali Sadpara and his son Sajid Ali continues their acclimatization, now are back at base camp.

Seven Summits Treks Commercial

Seven Summits Trek’s massive commercial team arrived at K2 Base Camp. Dawa made a perplexing post: “All set up done, with pre-acclimatization, on second weather window plaining to send fixing sherpa for summit push, along with full acclimatize and fit set members.” Several members of their “team” posted that they were going higher. It seems to be more of a collection of individuals than a cohesive team, which is how SST usually runs their expeditions. For a winter K2 effort, it feels very dangerous. Historically, “disappearance” is the first reason listed for death on K2.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

Share this post:

6 thoughts on “Winter K2 Update: Early Season Overview

  1. Hello Alan!

    I don’t have much experience following alpinism so question might be a bit rudimentary. Two teams that have collaborated to put ropes above camp II – what is the protocol with regards to other teams being able to use the same or will they have to fix their own?


  2. I was curious if you know which team Mingma Tenzi is on? Glad to see everyone working together thus far.

  3. Hey Alan, great blog as usual. How much damage is done to the fixed lines by the wind/rocks? Was this a concern on your climb? Is is worse during winter. Thanks!

    1. Ropes get frozen and buried under new snowfall (obviously) but being cut by rockfall is rare in my experiences. It would be bad luck if that happened.

Comments are closed.