The winds have returned and are forecasted to stay strong throughout the week. That said, there are reports of climbers going up anyway. Almost everyone is back at Base Camp now, including the rope fixers who reached 7050-meters. Also, expect another team arrives next week that may shake things up.
There are four main teams on K2 this winter:
- Mingma Gyalje Sherpa: 3 people, all Sherpas
- Nims Purja : Nims plus six Nepalis/Sherpas in support, One client looking to experience BC and perhaps C1
- John Snorri Sigurjonsson with Muhammad Ali Sadpara and son: a three-person independent team
- Seven Summits Trek’s (SST) 50+ person commercial team with over 20 clients with various experience on 8000-meter winter climbs.
So here’s the deal, climbers have to be acclimatized to high altitude before they can safely climb higher. While base camp is around 16,785-feet/5117-meters, and C1 and C2 are 19,965-feet/6050-meters and 22,110-feet/6700-meters respectively just getting to those camps are necessary but not sufficient … unless you use an extraordinary amount of supplemental oxygen for the summit push.
The climbers who have never climbed an 8000er in winter will probably use Os, and that’s not bad but they need more acclimatization rotations than others, and that is bad in that each rotation is risky for rockfall, AMS, and other problems.
And those not using O’s need to get to the high camp at 25,080-feet/7600-meters and return to BC before attempting their summit push which will take four to seven days. So here we are in early January. The weather forecast shows a random day or two of low winds, not enough to do a real rotation. So it becomes a game of risk.
The wild card, as I’ve said over and over, is the weather. Using Internet-generated forecasts show a day or two of low winds, some climbers will take the risk. The best teams pay for human-curated forecasts that interpret the data and give their advice.
The experienced climbers understand this game, the new ones to winter 8000-meter climbs may understand it intellectually but the experience is sobering. I expect a mostly quiet week with high winds keeping almost everyone at Base Camp.
Mingma G – At BC
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, Nims, and three Sherpas worked together to fix the lines in the Black Pyramid section. The SST Sherpa rope team got 50 -meters higher before high winds turned them back.
Nim’s – At BC?
Nims Purja and Co’s location is unclear. Some reports have them on K2, but others at BC waiting for the next good weather window. Nims teams consist of Mingma David, Dawa Temba Sherpa, Pemchhiri Sherpa, Gelje Sherpa, Mingma Tenzi Sherpa, and Sandro Gromen-Hayes. It appears that Gelje Sherpa will climb Broad Peak before K2.
Snorri – At BC
Seven Summits Treks: Rope team Back at BC
Seven Summits Trek’s commercial team has climbers at K2 Base Camp and a few at C1 and C2. They suggest a summit bid after January 14, 2021. Dawa posted this update:
After two nights on 7050m in the black pyramid waiting in strong winds our rope fixing Sherpa returned safely to BC. Unfortunately they where not able to fix higher and where forced down due to the deteriorating weather, however they where able to leave enough rope and oxygen for the next opportunity.
Broad Peak – En Route
Manaslu – En Route
Simone Moro,Alex Txikon, and Iñaki Alvarez are in quarantine in Kathmandu for their winter attempt of Manaslu. They anticipate arriving at Base Camp around January 11, 2021. Tenji Sherpa and Vinayak Jaya Malla, both Nepali internationally certified mountain guides (IFMGA) are also on Manaslu. They are currently in Samagaun, their closest stop to Manaslu Base Camp, on January 1.
Memories are Everything