Winter Climb Update: Climbers Still Missing On GI

Last Friday seemed like a triumphant day on Gasherbrum I, as the Polish team that has struggled on that  mountain for more than two months, notched the first winter ascent of the mountain. But the joy of that climb has been tempered with the fact that three climbers from another team have gone missing and there has been no news on there whereabouts for the past two days.

Late last week Gerfried Goschl, Cedric Hahlen and Nisar Hussein were the first to set out from Base Camp on GI to take advantage of a weather window that could give them access to the summit along a new route. Late in the day on Thursday they called home to report that they were just 450 meters (1476 ft) beneath the summit and that they felt good about their prospects of topping out. Their support team hasn’t heard from them since.

When the Poles went to the summit along the normal route the following day, they reported that they saw the three climbers continuing their ascent along the mountains East Ridge. That was the last anyone has seen of the men and what has become of them after that remains a mystery.

The brief weather window has now closed and high winds and bitterly cold temperatures have returned to  the Gasherbrums. Those conditions have made if very difficult to launch a search and rescue mission at the moment, as all helicopters in the region have been grounded. There are a number of climbers standing by to begin the search, but for now they are waiting for a some kind of break in the weather. That break may not come for another few days.

Alex Txikon, who was part of the missing climbers’ team, is back in Base Camp after his attempt to summit went awry late last week as well. He and Tamara Stys gave up on their GI climb but attempted to summit nearby Gasherbrum South, which wasn’t successful either. It seems likely that the Basque climber will now try to lend some aid to finding his missing friends, but all further attempts to climb Gasherbrum I are done.

Finally, the Poles have posted a summit report from their successful climb last week, which you can read here. They also posted the video of the climb, which you can see below. It gives us an indication of how challenging the final push was and what kind of weather they were dealing with even at the end. Congrats to that team on a job well done.

Lets keep our fingers crossed for Gerfried, Cedric, and Nisar that they are found alive and well.

Kraig Becker