Winds Go Down – Climbers Go Up on Winter K2

Direct from K2 Base Camp, Pemchirri Sherpa updates that he and Nims team are heading up today for Camp 2 and then higher as conditions allow.

Nims Purja on K2. Fb.

And the latest update, a rather rough time up high for Nims and the team:

“We have lost everything including all our kits; sleeping bags, mattresses, heated shoe insoles, summit gloves/mittens, summit base layers, paragliding equipment, cooking equipment etc. I am devastated to be breaking this news. Now, I have to reassess and replan everything.”

On fb Nims writes: Members from other teams have also used our tent due to a limited space. It was last reported 10 days ago that our tent was not fully secured and we have been at the basecamp since then. Therefore, prior to making further progress, we need to get there, assess the situation and ensure everything is set for the prominent push later.

With the limited tent space, tents will inevitably be shared amongst teams. Once climbers go up, set everything nicely and retreat, it will be very hard to know what conditions they return to. Sharing tents on most big peaks without permission is highly frowned upon, particularly on Everest, but with the limited real estate on K2, there will be little option with the number of people on the mountain.

There will undoubtably be a recurring problem with tents in the winds recorded on the heights – 100 plus kilometers (60 mph) is not uncommon this season. While a perfectly pitched tent may survive, left empty, flapping and tied to a few rocks, who knows what the climbers will return to find. In places like Antarctica, we never leave tents pitched without someone in camp to watch over them.

Colin O’Brady at K2 Base Camp.

Colin O’Brady’s video from Base Camp ensures we know it is a less than hospitable place at times. Conditions even there are as if the climbers are a few 1,000 metres higher in the regular season.

Colin has recently been covered in Rock and Ice, where yet another reviewer gave him rather a hard time (being diplomatic) of his proclivity for self-promotion. If you are following this seasons saga however, from afar, it does add interest to the posts. Though “Impossible Summit” does seem to hold promise if one is turned back – as it was of course impossible anyway.

Mingma G. and his small team will be headed back up again as well. His recent video from their last soiree up onto the mountain provides a good scenic view over the Karakorum, while also showing the incredible clarity of the air and stupendous views that enhance the winter season. If you can see through a pair of iced up goggles?

Having done the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat, Muhammad Ali Sadpara and his son Sajid Ali Sadpara are climbing with John Snorri. Muhammad and Sajid are rare and quiet hero’s in this era of wanton self-aggrandisement.

Muhammad has done all five of the Pakistan 8000 metre peaks, and with his son, also climbed K2 in 2019. We may be hearing much from John Snorri, but I suspect the real power, determination and experience will be coming from this remarkably talented and experienced Pakistani team. Winter on K2 is not just another season, it is another world. Muhammad’s success on Nanga Parbat will ensure he is at least familiar with that world.

While Pakistani climbers were long out of the limelight, a climb of K2 this winter would certainly raise that profile both immensely and deservedly.

sevensummittreks
A lot of wind at basecamp and freezing .

The Seven Summit Treks team, comprising a host of smaller teams, factions and a mix of talents will undoubtably be proceeding at different paces. They have strong Sherpas, but a tradational approach, with Sherpas fixing ropes, clients acclimatising as if on a ferris wheel, then retreating to Base Camp to rest and eat, may not be well suited to the brutal conditions.

By the time they are acclimitized they could also very well had way too much cold to move. Their latest video from Base Camp again highlights the rather trying conditions they are all facing, and may be as much a quick attempt to gather footage as to also avoid frostbite.

Amongst the Seven Summits teams however, are some who are very familiar with the heights, who will undoubtably operate quite independently and have as much a chance of success as any of the others.