Winter Climb Update: Russians Off K2, Others Go Higher

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It has been a busy few days in Pakistan, with plenty of activity over the weekend as the remaining teams continue to take advantage of what ever the weather will allow them. The big news is that the Russian team on K2 was evacuated late last week, as the weather cleared up long enough for three consecutive flights to and from Base Camp to retrieve the climbers, their gear, and of course the remains of Vitaly Gorelik, who succumbed to pneumonia last week. As of Friday, the entire squad was in Islamabad, and it is quite possible that they started their return journeys home over the weekend.

Over on Gasherbrum I, the teams took advantage of a weather window at the end of last week, and managed to fix lines up to C3. The Polish team reports reaching that point on Thursday, but were forced back down to BC by Saturday, as the forecast predicted bad weather for the next few days. It seems for now, they’ll all sit and wait for an opportunity to go back up, although the climbers have been spending time at C2 as part of their normal acclimatization process. They also released the video clip below to show what life is life on a winter climb on GI.

Also on GI are Alex Txikon and Carlos Suarez, who are back in BC as well after taking a turn fixing the ropes high on the mountain. They report extremely cold temperatures, even at the lower altitudes, and after spending a day filming in, and around, Base Camp, it took some time to thaw out in their tent. Alex says that they spotted a wild fox near camp, and he was struck by the grace and beauty of that animal, whose tracks they see every day, but seldom do they spot the animal itself. The the Poles, Alex and Carlos are waiting out the weather, hoping to get a chance to continue their ascent.

Finally, the situation is much the same for Simone Moro and Denis Urubko on Nanga Parbat, where the snow continues to fall. They’ve had steady snow for the past few days, and it has only added to the amount of powder on the mountain, which is already unsafe at higher altitudes. Avalanches are a real concern for the duo, who are being both patient and smart in their approach. For now, they wait for another chance at a summit bid, but the forecast is not particularly good. There is the potential for a window to open later in the week, and if it does, these two men will try to make the most of it.

Kraig Becker