Winter Climbs 2014: Weather Window Opens At Last! Summit Push Begins On Nanga Parbat!

800px Nanga parbat abdul rafey

The weather has begun to clear on Nanga Parbat, where two teams have now launched their summit bids with the hopes of topping out this weekend. It has been a long and difficult winter so far on that mountain, but the forecast calls for a three day window during which winds will be relatively calm on the 8126 meter (26,660 ft) summit. This may be the best opportunity anyone has had for climbing Nanga in the winter, and if successful, it will be the first ascent of the mountain during that season. 

The Polish Justice For All team were the first to launch their summit bid, sending Tomek Mackiewicz up to Camp 2 a few days back. He has now moved higher and is at an intermediate camp between C2 and C3, where he’ll wait for the weather to improve starting tomorrow. His teammates Pawel Dunaj and Jacek Teler are in Camp 1, waiting to move up as well. 
Also in C1 are the North Face team of Simone Moro and David Göttler. They report good weather and no wind at that point on the mountain, although conditions are still a bit dicey higher up. Those conditions are expected to improve over the next few days however, which has the climbers eying Saturday or Sunday as possible days to make their final push. 
If all goes as planned, I would expect them to move up to Camp 2 tomorrow, then C3 on Friday, with the final push coming soon there after. This being Nanga Parbat, and in winter no less, all plans are highly tentative of course. The weather can change rapidly there and weather windows are known to slam shut. This does look like a fairly stable weather pattern however, and the two teams are looking to take advantage of it while they can. 
On the Diamir Face, Daniele Nardi is struggling with his thoughts on whether or not he should make his own attempt on the summit. After a close call with an avalanche a few days back, he has since witnessed more instability on the mountain. That has made his route more treacherous than normal, and is giving him some pause while he weighs in options. 
A weather window is projected to open for him this weekend as well, but he still feels that conditions could shift quickly. Daniele says that it feels like spring is coming early on Nanga Parbat, which means that more avalanches will be a distinct possibility. His forecast says that heavy snow is predicted starting on March 2, so that means he would have until Sunday to get up and down the mountain. Since he hopes to make a solo, alpine style attempt, he’ll have to plan his moves carefully. 
For now, we’ll have to wait and see if the current weather patterns hold. If they do, we could see history being made on Nanga Parbat in jus a few days. 
Kraig Becker