Winter Climb Update: Evacuation On K2, C2 On Nanga Parbat


It has been a busy couple of days in Pakistan for the teams making winter ascents on the big peaks there. As is always the case, it is the weather that decides how much progress they can make and how much they’ll suffer while doing it. For the teams on K2 and Nanga Parbat, it has now been a month since they arrived on the mountain, while over on Gasherbrum I, the teams are just starting to settle in.

The Russians on K2 were forced to evacuate a teammate yesterday when a helicopter dropped by BC to pick up Vladimir Belous, who was suffering from frostbite on several fingers. The team had hoped to send Belous out sooner, but bad weather prevented the helicopter from landing for a number of days, and as a result, Vladimir’s fingers had to be treated on site. He has now been flown back to Skardu and will make his way to Islamabad, and then home to Moscow.

Meanwhile, the rest of his teammates have continued to work the route. Several climbers were above Camp 2 yesterday fixing ropes, but high winds forced them to retreat all the way back down to Base Camp. The skies have cleared there however, which brought some sun at last, but the high winds and cold temperatures are expected to continue. The mercury has been hovering around -37ºC/-34ºF for the past few days.

On Nanga Parbat, Denis Urubko and Simone Moro have resumed climbing and went up to Camp 2, located at 5000 meters (16,404 ft) yesterday. After taking three days of rest, the two men are feeling re-engergized and ready to climb, and while they were accompanied by three others on their way up to C1, they are now in Camp 2 all by themselves. No word yet if they’ll go any higher or if this is just the next round of their acclimatization process.

The Polish Team on Gasherbrum I is getting settled in and preparing to move up the mountain. They arrived in BC over the weekend, and have been busy getting their camp established ever since.  They did find time to post an excellent image gallery online, which you can check out here. The photos give you a good sense of what life is like in Base Camp on one of these big mountains. Look for the team to start working their way up to Camp 1 in the next day or two.

Finally, Alex Txikon and Carlos Suarez are also in BC on GI and have reportedly started working the route themselves. The two men took their turn fixing the lines yesterday, so progress has started towards C1, and it appears that there is a good sense of cooperation between them and the Poles. Alex and Carlos are also working hard to establish their Internet connection from the mountain as well, as they have plenty of photos, and hopefully video, to share with the rest of us following along back home.

Good luck to all of the climbers as they continue to challenge these monsters of the Karakoram in the days and weeks ahead.

Kraig Becker

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