It is hard to believe but winter is now officially just three weeks away here in the Northern Hemisphere. Traditionally that is a quiet season in the Himalaya, where on the hardiest of climbers attempt the big peaks during the coldest and most demanding time of the year. Over the past few years however, there has been a string of winter attempts on some of the toughest peaks on the planet, and it looks like this year will be no different. Explorers Web has the scoop on several of these climbs, including an interesting attempt on Everest that should be quite the expedition to follow.
According to ExWeb, three of the five scheduled Himalayan climbs this winter will be supported by Jasmine Tours. That includes two expeditions to Nanga Parbat (8126 m/26,660 ft) and one on Broad Peak (8051 m/26,414 ft), neither of which has been successfully summited in the winter. The two Nanga teams consist of a Polish squad and an international group, while Broad Peak will be led by Polish climber Krzysztof Wielicki, although the rest of the team has not been selected yet. Apparently there are some financial restrictions for that climb, which is usually not a great sign for a winter expedition.
Perhaps the most intriguing of the winter climbs however will take place not in Pakistan but in Nepal. ExWeb reports that Denis Urubko and Alexey Bolotov will be attempting a winter summit of Everest along a new route and in alpine style. That means that they’ll be going up the tallest mountain in the world without building camps and by carrying all of their gear with them at all times. That is contrary to typical climbs on these big mountains, but Denis is well known for taking a “pure” approach to his expeditions and it doesn’t come much more pure than this. Everest along a new route is a challenge in any season, but doing it alpine style in winter will certainly set the bar high.
Of course, the other big winter climb we’ll be watching with interest will be Lonnie Dupre’s third attempt at a solo summit of Denali in January. That mountain has of course been climbed in winter before, but no one has done it alone and in the worst month of the year. Dupre has managed to come close over the past few years, but bad weather has turned him back each time. He’ll once again carry no tents but will instead dig out snow caves at various altitudes that he’ll use as his shelters throughout the expedition. As in previous years, he’ll likely leave for Alaska at the end of December, and be in place to start the climb on January 1, making sure he can maximize every day in that month that he can.
This is just a preview of some of the things we’ll be following closely in the weeks ahead. It looks like the winter mountaineering scene will be an interesting one once again this year.
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