Well, it’s winter in the northern hemisphere, so poor weather is the norm. Teams across Nepal and Pakistan are feeling it. And in Antarctica, they are suffering as well. Welcome to 2022.
Nepal – Winter Everest – Down for R&R
German climber Jost Kobusch is holding tight waiting for a longer weather window before resuming his no O solo sorte on Everest’s West Ridge. Thus far he has reached about 6464 meters above the Lho La pass. He gave this brief update: “Winter expeditions also consist of a lot of waiting. That’s exactly what I’m doing right now. I’m waiting for a good weather window and then I’ll go back to the mountain, climb up and see what is possible. But for now, it’s a matter of staying relaxed and waiting.” He once again tamped down expectations of a summit, “I ascend in sections to work my way up the route in piecemeal. The aim of this expedition is to reach an altitude of 8000m and learn as much as possible in the process!”
Everest has seen only 13 winter summits for 371 attempts out of the total 10,656 summits. The last winter summit, defined by Nepal and the Himalayan Database as December through February was in 1993 by a very strong Japanese team led by Hikaru Hoshino on the SW Face (Bonnington Route). Polish climbers Leszek Cichy and Krzysztof Wielicki were the first on February 17th 1980 via the South Col route with oxygen.
Please see this video interview I did with him a few months ago, where we discussed his plans in detail. He says his goal is to reach 8,000-meters and not the summit. You can follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and an excellent 3D view of his current location on his website.
Manaslu – Heavy Snow, Little Teamwork
The recent heavy snow and avalanches that took out some tents all the way to Manalsu base camp, has also fractured any semblance of teamwork amongst the non-commercial teams there. As usual in winter, the only people making attempts are highly motivated, professional climbers like Simone Moro, Alex Txikon, and Sofie Lenaerts.
In an odd comment about crampons, a piece of kit almost always with a climber on a peak like Manaslu, Lenaert said,
Only stef, dawa and me had crampons so the other needed to turn back. After the coll, the real challenge started with hugh pak of dense snow. The fix rope Was buried so we took turns, shovelling and pulling in 1m50 snow. Once at the depo we had to find the gear .. took lot of effort. Now we having beautiful Clear sky. We will see tomorrow what the day will bring just the three of us. Grtz to leaders in samagaon and thanks P,MT,Osy for your support!
And ended with this:
It hurts that we don’t have more time. To reach c2 in these conditions you need more manpower, support we didn’t get during this window. May the remaining team have more luck and better teamwork to make to the summit and safe return. S&S
It appears she was referring to Moro’s decision to stay in Samagaon and not help with their attempt:
Today was a beautiful sunny day that surely worked well on the surface of the snow. Alex, Inaki and I along with a group of trekkers, went on an excursion to have a better look at the Manaslu and maintain our training. We still have 45 days of expedition left and we don’t want to rush or be provoked. With over 20 winter expeditions I don’t want to fall into the trap of summit fever. I feel that this is the right year but not the right moment. With Alex the harmony is total and special. I thank Jon Barredo and June for the photos and the analysis of yesterday’s avalanches.
and this clear comment:
Alex and I are in Samagaon. Today was a sunny and windy day, perfect for turning snow and reducing the risk of avalanches. The pair of Belgian mountaineers together with their Sherpa, a Finnish woman with a personal Sherpa and the Polish Oswald – all clients of Seven Summits agency included in the climbing permit – expressed their willingness to climb to Camp 1 where they also have their their equipment buried by the snow and then tomorrow to Camp 2.From the recognition made by the helicopter and from the photos taken, to Alex and me it seems really too dangerous for the incredible amount of snow accumulated and the signs of fracture of the snow plates (pls see in the stories). As of now, we know that we will still have 3 days of good weather and wind at high altitude which will be useful to stabilize the snow and after these three days it seems that heavy snowfalls will return. It is likely that tomorrow I will decide to move from Samagaon to Base Camp and then still wait. In any case, the risk assessment is personal and therefore I do not allow myself to judge decisions and behaviors different from mine, from ours.
Cho Oyu – Nepal Side a Go but Needs Money
Gelje Sherpa has begun his effort to create a standard route on the Nepal side of Cho Oyu but is asking for more money. The Nepal side is rarely climbed due to avalanches and other objective dangers. Of the 3,923 summits on Cho, only 135 have been from the Nepal side.
Gelje posted on his Facebook page:
Even funding is still on a long way to reach its target and we even not reached half a way of total funding what we have proposed. But THE SHOW MUST GO ON! Today our Cook Mr. Chandra Bahadur Tamang and Kitchen boy Mr. Nirpadwaj Tamang left to Salleri with basecamp food, Oxygen and fixing equipment. The team will travel with jeep and with mules to Lukla. We will catch up our team in Namche. This is now beginning of the Cho Oyu WINTER NEPAL. Please keep supporting and believing us. We will surely make it happen. THE COMMERCIAL EXPEDITION ROUTE FROM NEPAL. Which was never been happened before.
Gelje’ team includes Pasang Tendi Sherpa, Lakpa Dendi, Chandra Tamang, Gesman Tamang, Tashi Sherpa, Phuri Kitar Sherpa, Ashot Wenjha Rai and Karma Sherpa.
Nanga Parbat – Slow Progress
German climber David Göttler posted on Facebook, “climbed up to 6200m on the Schell route and spent 3 nights on the route.” His team included Italian Hervé Barmasse, American Mike Arnold who had to leave due to schedule conflicts, and the Pakistani Qudrat Ali. They reached 5600-meters on their first rotation. They wanted to complete the first winter climb of Nanga Parbat by the Direct Rupal route, a 4,500-meter wall that terminates at the 8,126-meter summit, conditions caused them to switch to the more indirect Schell.
Winter K2 Underway
Well, I guess late is better than not at all. Taiwanese climber Tseng “Grace” Ko-Erh supported by over five Sherpas through Dolma Expeditions is reported to finally arrive in Skardu, Pakistan to begin the trek to K2 for a winter attempt. Being the only team on the Hill will be a challenge for them suggesting they will have to fix all the ropes or use old rotten ones that dramatically decrease any safety margin, manage the winter snowfall between rotations, and more. This is an ambitious effort.
Aconcagua seems to be one of the few high-altitude places not experiencing poor weather. My contacts on the mountain report decent conditions as they make their rotations. Argentina has closed access via the Guanacos Valley route, leaving the “normal” as the only access. They limited the climbing season to around 5-6 weeks ending in early March. This is the official site with the details.
In Antarctica, the good weather that allowed team after team to tag Vinson came to halt last week. High winds caused many teams to abort their summit pushes and many to simply stay in their tents at the Lower and Upper Camps (LC and HC). to wait for better conditions. All in all, this is not unusual for Antarctica. In 2011, we stayed at the LC for almost a week to wait for better conditions. It’s better to hang out there than at the HC where the conditions are harsh, including even colder temps.
The rarely climbed Mt. Tyree was summited. Jenn Durmmund made this post on her IG account. She is attempting to be the first female to summit all of the Second Seven Summits. Thus far she has Ojos del Salado on the Chile-Argentina border, Mount Kenya in Kenya, and Dykh-Tau in Russia, and now Tyree in Antarctica. She summited Vinson before Tyree and Everest in the spring of 2021 and made an attempt on K2 that summer but didn’t summit.
JENN here! I am so happy to be back. Thank you so much to everyone who has followed, motivated, and sent me good vibes during my latest expedition. Mt. Tyree proved to be an adventure in patience. Trust. Prayers. Pushing myself to do HARD THINGS. Appreciation of the absolute beauty unlocked and pocketed. I’m going to share all I can with you, but for now I am soaking up the first few days of being back in Utah.
Also of note was the Sherpa brothers who founded Seven Summits Treks tagged the South Pole and now have summited Vinson. This was recognized by Guinness as a world record adding to their previous record of “World’s First Siblings to Climb All 8000ers”. Congratulations to Mingma, Chhang Dawa, and Tashi Lakpa Sherpa. They plan to go to the North Pole this upcoming Spring.
And in Ecuador, I’m getting first-hand reports of excellent weather and many summits on Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, Pasachao, Corazon, and Illiniza. Ecuador is one of my favorite places to climb 20,000ers these days. This photo from climber Greg Paul:
Memories are Everything