Winter K2 Update: Frostbite in A Short Weather Window

Broad Peak

High winds stopped many of the hopefuls on Friday but climbers left Base Camp on Saturday and are now at C1 and C2. Frostbite is being reported in some of the Sherpas who perhaps lack the same high-quality gear that the foreign clients have.

The winds are predicted to calm before returning with a vengeance next week. A Sherpa team is climbing to C2 looking at fixing the ropes to Camp 4 early next week then retreating without a summit bid.

Big Picture

There are four main teams on K2 this winter:

Thus far, Mingma has lead the way in fixing the route with Nirmal Purja providing excellent support on the Black Pyramid. Snorri and Sadpara set the route low on the peak from ABC to C1. Four Sherpas from SST are scheduled to attempt to set the route to Camp 4 this next week.

With high winds forecasted in the immediate future, the next long window is hoped to be after January 14th, but obviously, this could change. In previous years, January has shown relentless winds preventing substantial progress in establishing the route or camps, much less a summit bid. It’s too early to make any predictions other than patience will be required by everyone.

Usually, those climbing without supplemental oxygen spend one night at Camp 4 at 25,080’/7600m then return to BC before making a summit attempt. Those on Os usually spend at least two or three-nights at C2 at 22,110’/6700m, return to BC before heading out for their summit bid.

Summit bids can take between four and seven days depending on the strength of the climber, thus a corresponding weather window is required and that is difficult in January. Winter began on December 1, 2020, or December 21, 2020, and ends on February 28, 2021, or Saturday, March 20, 2021, depending on your choice of astronomical or meteorological.

Mingma G – At BC, “Great Cooperation!”

Mingma Gyalje Sherpa is back at BC after getting the fixed rope to 7000-meter, roughly at the top of the Black Pyramid. Mingma confirmed directly to me that he, Nirmal Purja, and three Sherpas worked together to fix the lines in the Black Pyramid section.

Nim’s – At BC, Considering Broad Peak?

Nirmal Purja and Co. are at BC. Nirmal Purja teams consist of Mingma David, Dawa Temba Sherpa, Pemchhiri Sherpa, Gelje Sherpa, Mingma Tenzi Sherpa, and Sandro Gromen-Hayes. Nirmal Purja revealed some of his thought process in today’s post:

On New Year’s Eve I came back down to Basecamp after our first rotation. With a weather window on the 2nd I had a super tough decision to make, head back up the mountain straight away or let the team rest and recover and hope another window would appear. I let the team party, but now staring up at a perfect summit morning I hope it was the right decision.

Gelje Sherpa posted on social media that “With K2 in the background and looking at Broad Peak, the next target.” It’s extremely unclear what he means and speculation abounds that their team, or a few, might use Broad for acclimatization and avoid the mass traffic from the massive SST team on K2. Nirmal Purja did that last summer with his 8000er project.

Snorri – At BC

The GPS tracker for John Snorri Sigurjonsson with Muhammad Ali Sadpara and his son Sajid Ali shows them still at base camp. I assume they will stay there most of the week given the poor weather forecast.

Seven Summits Treks Commercial: Climbers at C1 and C2, Sherpas Fixing Ropes to C4

Seven Summits Trek’s commercial team is at K2 Base Camp and has sent four Sherpas to the upper camps with the goal to fix the route to Camp 4 and prepare for a summit bid after January 14, 2021. Sergi Mingote is at C2 after a delay of one day on Friday due to high winds. The four Sherpas fixing the rope to the High Camp left C1 for C2 on Saturday. A few other clients are at C1 today from the SST team taking advantage of the weekend window.

Broad Peak – En Route

Zoltán Szlankó and Alex Goldfarb are now at Skardu, en route, and should be at Base Camp within the next week.

Manaslu – En Route

Simone Moro, Alex Txikon, and Iñaki Alvarez are all traveling to Nepal for their winter attempt of Manaslu. Tenji Sherpa and Vinayak Jaya Malla, both Nepali internationally certified mountain guides (IFMGA) are also on Manaslu. They are currently trekking to Base Camp.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything


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7 thoughts on “Winter K2 Update: Frostbite in A Short Weather Window

  1. Hi Alan, from Sergi Mingote tracker and his IG account looks like that he is in Camp 1, have you info about his position from other place?

  2. Really don’t understand the negative press and disrespect of the SST team. Best wishes to all on the mountain, regardless of nationality or skill set!

    1. it’s because colin o’fakey and his partner dr jon both have questionable histories with their claimed accomplishments, and neither seem to have the experience to be at k2 for a winter attempt. Sure they both are experienced with other climbs, but not nearly enough winter 8k peak experience. It’s never been done for good reason.

  3. Thanks Alan for the updates, I await them each day and wish all the luck in the world to the K2 climbers.

  4. Thanks for the update. It’s not good they are getting frostbite so early. I wish they would use Oxygen. It’s so dangerous anyway. I wish them all the best.

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