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Jan 122021
 
K2 from Concordia 2014 by Alan Arnette

Teams are taking advantage of a two-day weather window mid-week to work on acclimatization. Big winds are forecasted to return soon. There is hope to establish camp 3 and get the ropes to Camp 4. Another climber leaves the SST team.


Big Picture

For the first person, and team, that summits K2 in winter (especially without supplemental oxygen) the stakes are high, as is the money from sponsors, books, and movies.

So we have stories of destroyed camps and stories of ongoing climbs. We are told of waiting for better weather yet others are going up now. Logistics companies only tell good stories and publish “hero” shots. What to believe?

With such high stakes, there seem to be several groups of climbers on K2 this season: incredibly driven ones who want to prove to the world it can be done, and long time, patient, professional alpinists come across with pure motivation and a sincere sense of why they are there. And then there are those who just seem happy to be at Base Camp and experience K2 in the winter.

Of note, Saturday, January 16, 2021, has forecasted low winds, perfect for a summit attempt. If you left base camp today, Saturday is your summit day. Also, Seven Summits Treks has already announced their rope team will be at Camp 4, or the High Camp, on Friday, January 15. Remember the rope to K2’s summit is usually set by a team aiming to summit and not a “rope fixing team “like on Everest.

Finally, it’s the Nepali teams that are most hungry to make history, so look for clues from them, not the 17 other nationalities represented. But no matter Camp 4 needs to be installed with ropes and tents to facilitate a summit bid.

These are the teams on K2 this winter:


Nim’s

Nims’s personal location is unknown. Some reports had him headed to establish C3 and the ropes to C4.  It appears his loss of gear at C2 was not the body blow first believed.

gelje_sherpa_on Nim’s team suggest they are ready for the summit:

One step closer to the verge of conquering K2 in this winter. Second rotation done! Checking gears on camp 2! We team @eliteexped & @nimsdaibelieve we will write a history in mountaineering by conquering k2 on winter. Let’s challenge this winter cold and speedy wind. We are ready! Let’s the weather give us green signal to go

Mingma G – On Hold

Mingma Gyalje Sherpa seems patient to wait it out but also eager to find out the status of his gear at C2. He says his foot injuries have completely healed. Previously, he has been aggressive with his climbing as he and his team fixed the rope to the high point of 7300-meters. He and Nims seem to have formed a tight bond. Mingma tells me directly on Tuesday, January 12 2021 around noon K2 time:

Hi Alan I can see my tent at Black Pyramid so I hope everything is there inside the tent just below the Black Pyramid.

But contrary to my thoughts of a Saturday summit, MIngma G tells me directly:

We have our plan together to go summit when the camp4 is ready. So the plan is they will fix camp4 first.

He gave this general update on his Facebook page:

Weather is good but little bit windy up there. Muhammad Ali and team fixed lines till camp1, we fixed lines from camp1 to Camp3 and in this window @nimsdai and 7 summit team will fix line to camp4. They will also help us check our gears at 7000m. Everything is ok here.

Snorri – BC or Above

John Snorri Sigurjonsson with Muhammad Ali Sadpara and his son Sajid Ali remain at Base Camp according to their tracker, but he may have chosen to leave it there. He praises his Pakistani teammates by passing on this message from them to me:

We are very happy for the opportunity as a Pakistani to be here at K2 and have chance to hold the Pakistani flag first in Winter. Because K2 is one of the precious gift by Allah Almighty to us. So as a Pakistani we will try our best to summit our K2

They have been there since mid-December so they must be anxious to make some real progress.

Seven Summits Treks – Some Climb, Others Not

Seven Summits Trek’s commercial team of 22 clients and 27 Sherpas in support is the wild card. Chhang Dawa Sherpa, director of Seven Summit Treks has been in base camp coordinating the logistics but now he has decided to leave BC and join the climb. Remember that he helped Nims with his 8000er project by providing all the logistics, so their bond is tight.

Other members of the SST team have left BC for C1 and C2 on acclimatization rotations as they have not been high enough for a summit bid, except for the professional climbers. However many of them are not using supplemental oxygen, so it would be very risky to attempt the summit at this point.

Juan Pablo Mohr Prieto made this post:

A week in the windy and cold base camp, waiting for a window to go back up to the high fields.The day after tomorrow we will take advantage of going up to do the second acclimatization rotation and review our material.

I saw SST in 2014 take 30 people to the summit on July 26, so they know how to do it. But this is winter. I assume they didn’t lose a substantial amount of gear at C2, even though Sergi Mingote said he did.

Sergi Mingote GPS Track

The key will be if the strong SST Sherpas can establish C4, then set the line through the Bottleneck and Traverse, the members might be able to follow.

Alex Gavan gave a nice, complete update on their plans. Click the link to read it but this is the key:
…Initially the departure was scheduled for this morning but after many moments of consultation we all decided that the wisest is to resume the rise a day later. … So tomorrow morning I will start again towards the heights of the K2 together with Tamara but also with our friends Sergi Mingote (Spain) and Juan Pablo Mohr (Chile), both elite climbers, together with whom I am happy to share the rise. Sergi climbed Gashebrum 2-8035 m on the same day with me in 2019, and Juan Pablo I’ve known him for a few good years,
Noel Hanna is now at Camp 1. from Lynne Hanna:
Good News Noel has arrived safely at Camp 1 @ 6320 M the winds were calm so the team left base camp at 8 am local time his message reads its cold well not surprising its currently – 36 degrees. they will stay 1 night and try for Camp 2 tomorrow ..

Desinvel reported that four SST clients tried to go to Camp 1 but retreated back to Base Camp: Colin O’Brady and Jon Kedrowski or Magdalena Gorzkowska and Oswald Rodrigo Pereira.

But Magdalena Gorzkowska, suggests that it’s too dangerous to go up now and might have never left Base Camp:

This week, 3 days are perfect for mountain action. Unfortunately, not 3 days in succession, so one would have to survive, somewhere above. Each climb up also means putting yourself in danger. Falling stones, ropes not in good condition. Going up only makes sense if he wants to fight for not extra oxigen entry and sleep above 7000. This option will cost me a lot of energy. Option two is to wait and maintain acclimatization. So far I’m not convinced of anything. Analyzes all the scenarios, pros and cons. I must be 100% convinced of my every decision, so I give myself more time …

Evuacation and Health Issues

And the Spanish alpinist Luis Carlos Garranzo has been helicoptered from K2 Base Camp suffering from dehydration after he didn’t recover from GI issues. He was quite experienced with expeditions Everest, Gasherbrudum Peak, K2, and Lhotse. He is the third evacuee this season along with Polish Waldemar Kowalewski, suffering from a pre-existing hernia, and an unidentified Sherpa. There have been health issues with other climbers including Bulgarian Atanas Skatov from Bulgaria who had GI problems but recovered after a 5-day antibiotic course. 

Broad Peak – At Base Camp

Zoltán Szlankó and Alex Goldfarb are now at base camp according to their Pakistani logistics company, Jasmine Tours Pakistan. They did an acclimatization rotation to 6209 meters per Laszlo Pinter. This was the last update:

Alex and Zoltan today went to check out the route to Pastore Peak (6209 m), their planned acclimatization peak. “It isn’t easy” – Zoltan wrote us. “Weather was cold but beautiful” – he added. John Snorri wanted to pay a visit to the pair today but they were still out on the glacier so they didn’t meet. Maybe at a later time!
And fro a couple of days ago:
Alex Goldfarb and Zoltan Szlanko today have arrived at Broad Peak Base Camp. Although a short day’s trip, it was really hard because of the punishing windstorm. They had to fight to be able to pitch the tents. No idea about temperature, Zoltan only sad it was “freaking cold”. There is no chance to build an igloo, even if they wanted to, like Alex Txikon did a couple years back on K2. There is hardly any snow, everything is black, they built the tents on the rocks of the moraine. Food is good, which is always important. (Official expedition communication by Laszlo Pinter, Mozgásvilág. Free for editorial purposes, with proper link and credit to this post.)

Manaslu – Ready

Simone Moro, Alex Txikon, and Iñaki Alvarez arrived at Samagon, the last village before Manaslu Base Camp. Tenji Sherpa and Vinayak Jaya Malla, both Nepali internationally certified mountain guides (IFMGA) are at Manaslu Base Camp ready to move higher.

  3 Responses to “Winter K2 Update: Climbing Resumes”

  1.  

    Thanks Alan!
    A few notes:
    – Colin&Jon are the 2 that came back to BC
    – At least 3 climbers were hit by falling rocks (2 are the ones mentioned before)
    – Tamara reported she has a bad cough qnd nosebleeds
    – Atanas Skatov is at C1

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