The climbers on Gasherbrum I have been patiently waiting for the weather to turn in their favor so that they can make another attempt at the summit. After being stymied last week, the two teams have been stuck in Base Camp while high winds buffeted the mountain, making it impossible to climb higher. But the March weather forecast is in and their is now a slim chance of not one but two weather windows to the top.
According to the Polish team, the first of those weather windows is scheduled to open on Thursday of this week, so in order to take advantage of that opportunity, they have set off today for Camp 1. Tomorrow they’ll actually skip C2 and move directly to Camp 3 in order to be in position to go for the summit should the winds die down long enough to allow access. This is a very narrow window indeed and they’ll have to be positioned just right if they are to succeed.
Should this opportunity not proceed as expected, the long term forecast says that another window could appear around the 19th of the month. Hurricane force winds are predicted between the 13th and 18th, but after that a period of calm could potentially set in. The problem is that the climbers are now racing the clock. They each hope to make the first winter ascent of GI and as we all know winter will end on March 20th.
The international team of which Alex Txikon is part has also started to move up the mountain in hopes of taking advantage of the opportunity. Alex will set out today as well, although reportedly some of his compatriots started their ascent yesterday. Summit day is going to be a cold and blustery one, that much is certain. If the teams do go to the top on Thursday, the winds are expected to drop down to 50 km/h (31 mph) and temperatures are predicted to be in the -44ºC/-47ºF range.
I’ll keep you posted on progress as best I can. Hopefully everyone gets up and down safely, with or without the summit.
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