Winter Climbs 2013: Poles Complete First Winter Ascent of Broad Peak

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History was made in the Karakoram this morning when the Polish team on Broad Peak completed the first ascent of that 8047 meter (26,400 ft) peak. The team pushed up to Camp 4 yesterday in order to take advantage of a weather window today and when that window opened the made a bold move for the top.

The details haven’t fully been revealed yet, and the team still has to be make its way back down, but we do know that Maciej Berbeka and Adam Bielecki were the lead team this morning, followed closely by Artur Małek and Tomasz Kowalski. Whether or not all four men made it to the summit and how far apart they were from one another remains to be seen.

One of the biggest obstacles that prevented a previous summit bids from succeeding was a nasty crevasse located at 7900 meters (25,918 ft). The climbers were able to negotiate past that hurdle on their way up this morning, which was a major relief for all involved. They’ll have to pass it again on thew ay back down, but it seems that was an easier prospect than it has been in the past.

As we all know, the summit is just the halfway point, so lets keep our fingers crossed that everyone gets back down safely. Weather reportedly remains good, but conditions have been fickle all season long and things can change rapidly. Hopefully the descent will go smoothly and they’ll be back in BC by tomorrow.

Congratulations to the entire team on a job well done. They have once again shown how dedicated and talented the Polish climbers are, particularly on these tough winter ascents. Well done!

Elsewhere in the Karakoram, a Russian team that had been attempting a winter ascent of Amin Brakk, otherwise known as the Great Tower, were forced to abandon their expedition over the weekend. The 5800 meter (19,028 ft) rock spire proved to be tough in the hard winter conditions, although the final straw was an avalanche that buried the team’s gear, gas and food that was cached up on the mountain. That was the fatal blow to their chances, so the climbers picked up what gear they had left and headed for home.

Thanks to Zeeshan Nawaz Kahn for the tip on this one.

Kraig Becker