I was able to connect with Mingma Gyalje Sherpa today as he arrived in Skardu from his K2 summit. The Pakistani government generously flew his three-person team from K2 Base Camp.
He shared how the day unfolded. They left Camp 3 around 2:30 am on Saturday, January 16, 2021 in good weather. The winds began to pick up as they approach the location of traditional Camp 4 around 25,000-feet. They took a break at 5:00 am and tried to warm up.
Mingma said he was extremely cold and ready to quit. He tried call one of his teammate, Dawa Tenjing, on the radio but couldn’t get through so he continued. He said it was good the call failed to connect because he would have stopped otherwise. After another two hours, now about 7, the sun rose and Minima said he began to warm up and pushed higher.
I asked him to compare climbing in summer and winter. He spoke of hard packed snow and ice that made gaining purchase with crampons a bit easier than in summer with softer snow. He also mention they never feared avalanches. They had no problems fixing the rope through the Bottleneck and across the Traverse.
The down-climb was straight forward using the fixed topes all the way to Camp 3
He said the plan all along was for one person to not use supplemental oxygen. He said by the time he reached Camp 4 on summit day, he was extremely tired and decided to start using supplemental oxygen, also he had been very cold.
They plan to return to Kathmandu next week.
Again, sincere congratulation to the Mingma and his nine fellow winter K2 summiteers.
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- Known GPS Trackers:
- The traditional Camp locations are:
- Base Camp: 17,500ft/5334m
- Advanced Base Camp: 18,650ft/5650m
- Camp 1: 19,965’/6050m
- Camp 2: 22,110’/6700m
- Camp 3: 23,760’/7200m
- Camp 4: 25,080’/7600m
- Summit: 28,251”/8611
Three of them settled the ropes to C4 on friday, why didn’t everyone go up fridayafternoon so they can leave at 2.30 AM from C4? And had a shorter push to go? I thougt in summer it is unusual attempting summit from C3.
Probably because they didn’t bring enough tents. Just the ropes and anchors, etc. was a large enough load. Also, C3 was nicely set up (platforms dug, etc.) so it was less energy to return and launch the bid from there. The distance from C3 to 4 is not too bad on an “easy” snow slope, maybe added an hour, or a bit more to the summit.
At what time they reached the summit?
Alan, Any chance you could do a post on what exactly they wore to summit K2 in winter? That would be very informative! Thanks for all the blog posts.
Thanks John. I’ll ask but they are kind of busy now. In general, they might add an extra mid layer of thick fleece, definitely footbed warms and full face masks. Probably heated gloves if available or even Aerogel (used by NASA for heat shields) in some garments. Not sure of they had special down suits made with 1000 Fill.
Great coverage as usual but excited for the K2 winter summit!
Thank you Alan. It’s wonderful to have updates and reports from a person who has summitted K2.
Congrats to Mingma. So happy that call didn’t go through. I wonder how cold it was on the mountain before sunrise?
So happy for all the climbers who summoned. What a great day.
Thanks Sharon. Supposedly -76 degrees Fahrenheit. Not sure if that’s still or windchill. Really doesn’t matter once you cross -50! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Thanks, once again, Allan for your masterful coverage on the K-2 Winter Climb efforts. Your writing was clear and well presented, as always, with interesting tid-bits scattered throughout. Recounts of your own experience were deeply touching and more revealing than what I had read before. I’ve decided, after this recounting not to pursue my goal to be the oldest summiter of K-2, at 79 (in just 10 days). Thank you!
Good call Bruce! 🙂