Winter Climbs 2013: Search Continues On Nanga, Winds Howl On BP

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Just a couple of short updates from Pakistan this morning as we head into the weekend. Not much has changed in the past few days, but I wanted to share what little information we have at the  moment.

On Nanga Parbat the search continues for missing French snowboarder Joel Wischnewski. After being forced down by poor weather earlier in the week, the team of high altitude porters who have gone looking for him had hoped to climb back up to Camp 2 yesterday and possibly go higher. There has been absolutely no sign of Wischnewski who now hasn’t been heard from in more than two weeks. Because he was climbing in alpine style however, there are no fixed camps to search for. He had all of his gear with him when he set out for his summit push on February 6. That means he could be stuck in a tent, high on the mountain and currently out of reach. If that is the case, he has to be running low on food and fuel by now, regardless of his health.

I’m sure friends, family and the mountaineering community that has been following his climb are still hoping for a miracle, but the chances of him coming down safely now seems incredibly small. Over the past two weeks the weather hasn’t been good on Nanga and he would have had to endure that at altitude. Not impossible of course, but highly unlikely during the bitterly cold winter. I think everyone should be preparing themselves for bad news at this point.

Over on Broad Peak the Polish team continues to sit and wait in Base Camp. After being turned back on a summit bid last weekend, they’ll now rest and prepare for another window that could give them access to the top of the mountain once again. The problem is, the weather forecast indicates that high winds have now settled over BP and are expected to remain there well into next week. That means it could be the first March before the Poles get another shot at going up. And this being winter in Pakistan, that next weather window may never come. Still, they’ll wait it out until the bitter end, hoping to nab the first winter ascent of the mountain and with a month to go until spring arrives, they should get at least one more chance. For now, we all wait and watch the skies.

That’s all for today. Hopefully there will be some more news next week.

Kraig Becker