K2 Winter Update: Off To Skardu By Bus

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The all-star team of Russian climbers who will take on K2 this winter, have started the second leg of their journey. After arriving in Pakistan last weekend, they’ve been busy organizing their gear and planning the logistics of the expedition. After completing that process, they have now shipped their gear to Skardu, which serves as the gateway to the Karakoram, and they had hoped to hop a flight to that city as well. But weather delays have grounded air travel in the region, so they’ve elected to go by bus – a journey which could take upwards of 30+ hours to complete.

On Tuesday, the team stopped by the Central Alpine Club of Pakistan, where they were briefed on the climb and awarded their climbing permit. With that last logistical hurdle out of the way, they are now free to proceed with the expedition. The plan is to ship their gear from Skardu to K2 Base Camp by helicopter, while they follow along on foot, taking the time to acclimatize a bit on their way to BC. The plan is to be in camp and officially begin the climb on Christmas Day.

The team is deep in talent and has some impressive climbs on its resume, including ascents of Lhotse, Everest, and K2 itself. But according to ExWeb, none of the mountaineers have completed a Himalayan climb in the winter and the bulk of their experience climbing during that season is within Russia itself. Winter climbing in Russia is a challenge of course, but they’re likely to face conditions they’ve never seen before in the Karakoram.

Climbing K2 is a supreme test of physical and mental toughness. It is, arguably, the most challenging climb on the planet, and that is under the best of conditions. The winter will bring a whole new set of obstacles to over come, not the lest of which will be the bitter cold temperatures, howling winds, and heavy snows. I salute these bold Russian climbers for giving this climb a go, and while the odds are supremely stacked against them, I’ll definitely be cheering them on none the less.

I can’t wait for them to get on the mountain and start the climb.

Kraig Becker