Winter Climb Update: Base Camp Departures and More High Winds

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For the past few days we’ve been waiting for news from Gasherbrum I where the two remaining Karakoram winter climbing teams have been weighing their options. As you’ll recall, summit bids earlier in the week were turned back due to high winds and both the Polish squad and Alex and Carlos have been in Base Camp ever since. Today we get news from both groups as well as a new weather forecast that isn’t all that promising.

First up, Alex reports that his climbing companion Carlos Suarez is heading home. This is a sad day for the two men who had hoped to climb the mountain together, but it seems that March 1st was always marked off as the day that Carlos would depart to take care of some other commitments. They had hoped to have reached the summit by this point, but obviously the unpredictable winter weather hasn’t made that happen. Alex is actually climbing as part of a larger team however so he won’t be taking on GI solo.

The Polish team says that one of the members of their team has taken ill over the past few days and is suffering from what they call “heart burn.” He has slept for most of the past three days however and they suspect that something else is going on. As a result, the team members climbing days are likely done for this winter and he is probably confined to Base Camp until they all head home.

A new weather forecast indicates that high winds are once again expected over the next few days. Speeds could hit as much as 120 kph (74 mph) at altitude which of course means that no one will be going up during that storm. There is the possibility of a new weather window opening up around the 8th or 9th of March however, so everyone is prepared to sit things out in BC until then. If that window doesn’t appear, Gasherbrum I may indeed go unclimbed for another winter.

Kraig Becker