Winter Climb Update: C3 On K2 And Nanga Parbat

It was a busy weekend in the Karakoram, where the teams are diligently and methodically going about their work as they prepare to climb some of the toughest mountains imaginable. The weather across the region has remained windy, but mostly dry, although the forecast says that is about to change, with plenty of snowfall set to hit after the first of February.

On K2, the Russian team has been fixing lines above Camp 2 and have now reached 7000 meters (22,965 ft) in altitude. The climbers continue to shuttle gear up to their higher camps, including an Olympic flag that they hope to take to the summit in celebration of the 2014 Winter Games which will be held in Sochi, Russia. If all goes according to plan, the team should locate a spot for Camp 3 today and start caching supplies at that location for the eventual summit push to come.

Meanwhile, over on Nanga Parbat, Denis Urubko and Simone Moro climbed up to Camp 3 on that mountain over the weekend and are now back in Base Camp deciding on their next move. If they are feeling strong and ready, they may be watching for a weather window that could allow them access to the summit, but more likely they’ll be heading up one more time to build out their Camp 4 before making a summit bid. Wondering what it is like on Nanga in winter? Check out the great video dispatch from the team below.

The Polish team on Gasherbrum I are making steady progress. After establishing Camp 1 last Friday, the squad spent the weekend shuttling gear up to that location, while also scouting the route up to Camp 2 as well. They report little to no snowfall on the mountain, but temperatures in BC were hovering around -20ºC/-4ºF, with obviously colder temps further up the slopes.

Alson on GI are Alex Txikon and Carlos Suarez, who have been fixing ropes up to Camp 1 as well. According to their dispatch yesterday, they ran out of rope on the way to C1, and as a result, fell short by about 100 feet. The two men returned to BC, where they climbed into their sleeping bags out of pure exhaustion. They’ll be heading back up today or tomorrow to finish their work and shuttle the first round of gear to the camp.

If the weather does indeed take a turn for the worse over the next few days, life is going to get even more challenging for these teams. Hopefully they’ll all stay safe and continue to make good progress.

Kraig Becker