Winter Climbs 2013: Poor Weather, Poor Health And Poor Gear

800px Nanga Parbat 029

It has been another couple of eventful days for the climbers attempting winter ascents in Pakistan. For some, it progress has come in slow, measured movements, while for others the challenges of the season are making things difficult. As always, it is the weather that dictates progress this time of year and the next few days don’t look particularly promising, especially on Nanga Parbat.

We’ll start today on that 8125 meter (26,657 foot) giant, where the Hungarian-American team continues to have their struggles. Since arriving in Base Camp nearly a month ago, the team has had to deal with a generator that has been less than cooperative. A few days back they had thought that they had  managed to fix it, but it has gone out again. In their 28 days on the mountain, they’ve actually only had power for five of them, which is making things uncomfortable in BC to say the least. To add to their challenge, the weather forecast says that they’ll have bad weather for the next five or six days, so the team has elected to move down to the village of Chilas to rest and wait. So far they haven’t been able to climb above Camp 1, which has been frustrating.

The team is also losing one of its members as Zoltan Acs won’t be returning to Base Camp after their brief respite. The Hungarian climber has frostbite in his feet, exasperated from past bouts with the affliction, and now he’ll head home to have a doctor take a look at if for him. Losing a teammate won’t help the morale of the squad, but they aren’t giving up just yet.

Over on the Rupal Face, Joel Wischnewski is having equipment issues of his own. The pump has gone out on his kerosine stove and while he has been able to come up with a makeshift solution, he can barely keep a flame going. He says that he is able to melt snow for water, but otherwise it isn’t much good for cooking. He is currently in ABC, where his food supplies are beginning to run low and most of his gas canisters are cached at Camp 2. Joel’s health has also taken a turn for the worse and he reports a nasty bout of diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding from his nose, all at the same time. The French snowboarder believes that he has Crohn’s disease, something that has afflicted other members of his family, but he seems determined to say on the mountain and continue his climb, even if the situation seems rather dire at the moment.

The Italian-French team of Daniele Nardi and Elisabeth Revol are finally on Nanga and have finished a round of acclimatization. After warming up on a nearby peak, they seem primed and ready to give their primary objective a go. Daniele has been on anti-biotics to battle an infected wisdom tooth, but that isn’t stopping the expedition from moving forward. They’ve now been as high as 6400 meters (20,997 ft), where they have built a camp site. Now, they’ll simply watch the weather, continue shuttling gear and wait for an opportunity to go higher.

Over on Broad Peak, the Polish team were set back by a bout of stomach illness that prevented one of their rotations going off as planned. But they haven’t let that slow them down too much and they now have C2 firmly established at 6200 meters (20,341 ft). Yesterday they stared fixing ropes to Camp 3, as they continually push up the mountain in a very methodical approach. As long as the weather remains good, they seem to be able to make very steady progress.

Back on Denali, Lonnie Dupre is still waiting for a ride home. After abandoning his latest attempt at a January summit earlier in the week, he has descended to Base Camp and is simply waiting on a weather window. He has clear skies in BC and has even managed to dig a runway for the plane, but the weather back in Talkeetna hasn’t been good, so no planes are getting out. They’re hoping that will change over the weekend and Lonnie can head home at last.

That’s all for now. More news next week.

Kraig Becker

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