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Feb 012021
K2 Climbers 2014. ©

K2 Sherpas and climbers have left for their summit bid. There is a window emerging centered on February Feb 4 and 5 ending this weekend. This may be the time to go.

Big Picture

Word on the mountain is the weather starting next week will shut down summit opportunities, perhaps for the season, so there is a sense of urgency to take advantage of this lull in the winds.

The SST Sherpas will go ahead of members to make sure the route is fixed, the camps are stocked with oxygen bottles, fuel and that the tents are still there after all the high winds. This is the basic formula for a commercial expedition on most 8000-meter mountains and will give the members the best chance to summit. Usually the members will trail the Sherpas giving them room to operate.

This picture from 2014 was a 30 person Seven Summits Treks team of members and Sherpas above the Traverse on their way to the summit on July 26. Sherpas lead the entire route fixing it, in some case taking hours to get the ropes in. Several members told me they became extremely cold and almost turned back fearing frostbite, and that was in July. This time the conditions will be significantly more challenging.

K2 Climbers 2014. ©

K2 Climbers 2014. ©

It’s unclear if the January 16th summit team left any fixed ropes on the mountain. In one interview, Nirmal Purja Purja Purja said they didn’t leave anything on the mountain, not even a string. Remember however that Snorri’s group fixed to C1, and Mingma G fixed to traditional C4, so Nirmal Purja Purja Purja might have been referring to their summit bid. In any event the SST Sherpas have a lot of experience fixing this route. The only concern may be the crevasse above C3 that created some problems for the previous summit team.

Note, apparently there are no tents at traditional C4, not a huge issue given the climbers intend to launch their bids from C3, but that makes for  a very long summit day, especially for those wanting to return to C2. Overall this is extremely ambitious, and dangerous should there be a significant shift in the weather for the worse.

The Manaslu teams are making good progress now that they seem to have found a way around that huge open crevasse.

Snorri & Team – Leaving Soon

John Snorri Sigurjonsson with Muhammad Ali Sadpara and Muhammad’s 20-year-old son Sajid Ali will leave soon aiming for this window of February 4 and 5.

Seven Summits Treks – Leaving Soon

Seven Summits Trek’s has sent eight Sherpas up to fix the route, and stock the camps for their members. By my count, there are 17 members (perhaps fewer) and about 20 Sherpas still left. Dawa, leader of the SST team gave this update.

After a long wait, finally we see a weather Window in the forecast. Today a the team of 8 Sherpas went up from basecamp, the team will recheck all the equipment left in higher camps, repair the fixed rope and deposit oxygen bottles as well. Many parts of route might have been damaged due to the harsh weather since 2weeks. There seems to be fair wind and weather from 1st to 5th Feb, this might be the last fair weather window until the February snowfall will start.

2 Feb (light Snow fall, light winds in C2)
Climbers along with Sherpas will climb up to Camp 1 from BC.
The Team of 8 Sherpas are planning to climb ahead to Camp 2.

3 Feb (light Snow fall, mild winds in C3)
Sherpa Team will set up Camp 3, deposit oxygen bottles, recheck the ropes and return back to the Camp 2.
All remaining climbers (Some from C 1 and Some directly from basecamp) have plan to climb Camp 2.

4 Feb
Entire team will approach to Camp 3, take a rest for several hours at Camp 3 (7300m), and start their final push to the summit in evening or night (depending on wind conditions).

5 Feb (temp: -55 Celsius minimum)
The plan is to summit on 5th Feb, directly from C3, the only possible date. On 6th winds increase to 60 Km/h in afternoon; above 7500m, along with 100Km/h+ wind gusts.

Our plan is based on weather reports, expert’s advice and the team’s willingness. However, it’s a K2 winter expedition, anything at any moment could change this plan massively. To get down safety is the main concern.

Juan Pablo Mohr Prieto stated his intentions:

Summit window is coming. We are going to start going up tomorrow at 5 am direct to C2. Then we want to go up to C3 on February 3. In C3 we will analyze if day 4 is good. If there is no wind, we will try to do a low C4 and try to summit on Friday, February 5 in the morning.

Tamara Lunger, JP’s climbing partner now, was a bit more cautious. She also has been suffering from GI problems:

It seems magical what this beautiful mountain is showing me! Maybe we are lucky and in the next few days the opportunity may open up to return to the mountain and who knows maybe to try the summit. But we have to be patient a little longer to have a clear idea and be certain! I am confident that everything will turn out as it should. Daily meditation has given me the three key ingredients:gratitude, trust, peace!

Greek climber Antonios Sykaris with the SST team gave us his aggressive schedule which I believe will be similar for many other members, some who have not been above Camp 1 thus their acclimatization is sketchy at best:

February 1, 2021, 44th day of the mission “The big day has arrived” Ladies and gentlemen, one of the greatest adventures of my life continues and even peaks after the big day I have been waiting for has arrived. Tomorrow, February 2, we start our effort to reach the top of K2, 8.611m. Our plan is the following: February 2, Camp 1, 6.050m, February 3, camp 2, 6,600m, February 4 crossing the Chimney and Black pyramid and arrival at noon at Camp 3, 7,400m. If everything has gone well there, we will rest for a few hours and at 18.00 or a little later we will start for the biggest and perhaps most important day of our mountaineering life … We do not know where we will manage to reach and what we will face. What our meteorologist Costas Gabriel tells us, is that the wind will be up to 20km and the temperature -46c but the chill factor may reach -58c. If we manage to cross the Bottle Neck, the coveted peak will follow on the morning of February 5th, but we will have to return to camp 2 on the same day because on the 6th of the month in the morning the bad weather will start again. All this will be extremely difficult since this last day can last more than 24 hours..

Polish female climber Magdalena Gorzkowska said the same:

And the weather window was clear to us. Maybe it was not the best moment for me, because I spent the whole day vomiting yesterday Today I feel better and I am slowly recovering. I waited until the last minute with my summit plan as the forecasts are very volatile, but now it’s safe to say that 4 and 5.02 are very good days for the summit, therefore our plan is as follows:
2.02- access to C1 (6070m)
3.02- access to C2 (6550m)
4.02- reaching C3 (7300m), rest and going to the top. We skip camp 4.
These are all just numbers, which may change a bit. The most important thing for me is health and safety.

Best of luck to all for a safe round trip.

Manaslu: More Progress

Simone Moro, Alex Txikon, and Iñaki Alvarez are at Manaslu Base Camp. Tenji Sherpa and Vinayak Jaya Malla are also at Manaslu Base Camp ready to move higher when winds allow. Alex’s update:

Hello!! Day in BC waiting for the relay led by Simone, who today equipped 250mt on the route. Tonight Iñaki, Vinayak, Tenzing and Gelum will stay at C1, while Simone will return to BC. The weather is still on our side. Let’s goooo!

Climb On!
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