Winter Climbs 2014: Weather Window Opening On Nanga Parbat

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It has been a long, difficult week on Nanga Parbat, where teams have been anxiously watching the skies and hoping for improved weather. There is little to do in Base Camp during this time, so they read, write and wait for conditions to improve. Now, a new forecast say that a good weather window is about to open, which means they climbers could be on the move again as early as tomorrow.

While the Polish Justice For All team still hasn’t updated their own website with any information, word out of the North Face camp indicates that things are about to improve dramatically. Their forecasts now say that clear skies, low winds and warmer temperatures (relatively speaking!) will arrive by next weekend. If that forecast proves to be accurate, the climbers are looking at a weather window that is believed to be three days in length, which is the perfect opportunity to get up and down the mountain safely.

With that in mind, they intend to hold tight today and get a more accurate forecast by tomorrow. If all of the weather patterns are taking shape as expected, they’ll set off on Tuesday or Wednesday for what will likely be their final summit push. March is nearly upon us, and both of these teams have been on the mountain for more than two months. Supplies are starting to run low and their patience is nearly at an end. This will likely be their last chance to bag the first winter summit of Nanga Parbat, although they haven’t completely ruled out stay longer if conditions are right.

Meanwhile, on the Diamir Face, Daniele Nardi has been facing some challenges of his own. Late last week he set off to scout the route he intends to use on his solo, alpine style attempt on the mountain. The plan was to evaluate the route above Camp 1 to ensure it was safe to make a summit bid. After reading his report, it is unclear if he still hopes to proceed with the climb.

The first indication that things were not going his way was that upon arrival in C1, he discovered that his rations had been raided by a fox wandering at altitude. The animal had been able to gain access to Daniele’s tent and proceeded to eat some of his energy bars. While the fox did little else in the way of harm, it was disheartening to find some of his food had been eaten.

But things got much worse after he went higher on the slope. While proceeding along the Mummery Ridge, the Italian climber heard a rumble above and caught sight of a collapsing serac as it tumbled down the side of the mountain. While the larger chunks of ice missed him completely, the collapse did set off an avalanche which he had to run out of the way to avoid. He managed to do so, but still managed to get caught in some of the debris and residue.

With that close call behind him, he decided to ski back down Nanga Parbat to return to Base Camp, where his Pakistani camp manager was relieved to see him in one piece. The avalanche has clearly unnerved him however, so it’ll be interesting to see if he’ll still continue his climb or take this as a warning sign and head home.

That’s all from Nanga for today. Stay tuned for more updates. Summit pushes seem to be on tap starting in the next few days. We’ll see how things proceed from here.

Kraig Becker