Winter Climbs 2013: Broad Peak Weather Window Narrows Further

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For the past week, the Polish Broad Peak team has been taking shelter in Base Camp while they wait for a weather window to give them an opportunity to head back up the mountain. On their last rotation they established Camp 4 and even attempted the summit, reaching as high as 7820 meters (25,656 ft) before turning back. But then the conditions shifted dramatically with high winds, heavy snows and cold temperatures moving settling in over the region. The team had hoped that they could make their next summit bid sometime this week, but a shifting forecast is now pushing that attempt well into March.

According to a dispatch from the team today their weather forecasts now say that the current weather pattern will persist until March 11 which means they are essentially locked in place for another week and a half. After that, they’ll have to climb back up the mountain, assess the damage done to their high camps and proceed from there. That is assuming that a weather window opens at all, as the forecasts could very well shift again before the 11th, forcing them to adjust their plans as they go. Remember, in order for them to bag the first winter ascent of BP they’ll need to reach the summit by March 21. It is starting to look like they may only get one more opportunity to do just that.

Meanwhile, the team sits and waits, passing the time by reading books, playing chess and chatting. After being confined to BC for several days they recently decided to take a hike over to K2 Base Camp which is typically just an hour walk away. In the winter months, with plenty of snow on the ground, the walk extended to 90 minutes while the climbers avoided a number of pitfalls including deep snow and hidden crevasses. While on K2 the boys took some time to locate the monuments built to fallen climbers there. Those monuments and cairns reminded them of their brothers who were lost in the Karakoram and just how challenging it can be to climb in that mountain range.

For now, the waiting continues.

Kraig Becker