Winter Climb Update: What Next?


There are only two teams left in the Karakoram this winter, and both are on Gasherbrum I. Both of those teams are hoping to make the first winter ascent of that 8080 meter (26,509 ft) peak, but as usual the weather hasn’t been all that cooperative thus far. That was evident once again earlier this week when both squads were forced to abort their summit bids due to the failure of a weather window to open as expected. High winds in excess of 100 km/hr (62 mph) above 7000 meters made it impossible for them to go higher, and for the past few days we’ve wondered if they would have another go or pack up their things and go home.

While it is still unclear whether or not Alex Txikon and Carlos Suarez will remain on the mountain and make another attack on the summit, the Polish team has made it clear that they will stay to fight another day. They make no apologies for having a go at the summit, and ultimately turning back, because as they note, you must take advantage of all opportunities in the winter, as you never know when one will be your last.

A new weather forecast is expected today and it will give the climbers some insights into what they can expect over the next week to ten days. If that forecast is a bad one, we could still see a change in plans, but if there is a glimmer of hope, it seems they’ll stay and attempt the summit once more.

While we wait, check out the video that the Polish team posted on their website. It not only shows the conditions they were dealing with on their summit bid, but the effects of climbing in that weather as well. One of the climbers apparently slipped and hit his head on the ice, which is evidenced by blood running down his nose. Just what you need in sub-zero temperatures and howling winds, at high altitude no less.

Kraig Becker