The last 24-hours have been a roller coaster ride of emotions on Gasherbrum I. We now have confirmed summits, the first ever on the 8080 meter (26,509 ft) mountain during the winter season, but we are still awaiting word on the whereabouts of one team that hasn’t been heard from since yesterday morning.
We’ll start with the good news. The Polish team that we’ve been following over the past few months successfully reached the summit of GI this morning at 8:30 AM local time. The two Polish climbers who made history were Adam Bielecki and Janusz Gołąb and they were joined by two Pakistani guides, Ali Sadpara and Shaheen Baig, as well. The team made the ascent along the “normal” Japanese route, and all the climbers are now reportedly safely back down in Camp 2 and will likely return to BC tomorrow.
Yesterday I posted the news that the international team led by Gerfried Goschl was last heard from when they were just 450 meters (1476 ft) beneath the summit. They seemed in good spirits and were confident that they would top out amidst improving weather, but after that report there were no further updates and those of us following along at home began to worry. Today we get the news that the Polish team spotted their tent from the summit and it appears that Gerfried and friends are still trying to make their way to the top.
The team is climbing a new route so they may have run into some unexpected problems that have slowed them down. The weather remains good, by winter Karakoram standards anyway, so hopefully they’ll get the opportunity to complete the new route and stand on top as well. For now, keep your fingers crossed that all is well, and that they get back down the mountain safely.
There is no official word yet on where Alex Txikon is on GI, although his plan was to attempt the summit today as well. ExWeb is reporting that he and Polish climber Tamara Stys attempted to ascend Gasherbrum South, a secondary peak nearby, but were turned back along their chosen route. If that is true, they may be headed back to Base Camp as well.
Stay tuned for more updates as we get them.