Winter Climbs 2014: Summit Push Unsuccessful On Nanga Parbat, Only Poles Remain

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While I was away on my short hiatus, a summit push was underway on Nanga Parbat as two teams attempted to complete the first winter ascent of that mountain. But the weather never improved enough to really give them a legitimate chance at reaching the top. With the days of winter starting to slip away, two teams have called it quits and are heading home, while one remains with the hopes of another shot at the summit.

Last week the summit push began with the Polish Justice For All and the North Face teams heading up the mountain. The forecasts indicated that the winds would drop and the temperatures would rise, making for safe passage to the top. But the winds never diminished enough to allow for a legitimate push, which resulted in most of the climbers never getting above Camp 2. On the North Face squad, Simone Moro experienced stomach issues and was forced to turn back, while his partner David GΓΆttler moved up to 7200 meters (23,622 ft), where he was joined by Tomek Mackiewicz from the Polish team. The rest of the climbers were never able to join them.

After waiting and watching the skies, David and Tomek were determined to go up to the summit together. But unfortunately they never got the opportunity and eventually they were forced to descend as well. For the North Face team, that meant that it was time to pack up and go home. After more than two months on the mountain, they were running out of supplies and had waited long enough. They are now en route back home to Italy and Germany.

For their part, the Poles have stayed on the mountain and look to be determined to give it another go before they go home. They have extended their visas and climbing permits once again, and they are now waiting for the weather to give them one final opportunity to summit. They have three weeks left in the season, and hope to take advantage of it.

Meanwhile, on the Diamir Face, Italian climber Daniele Nardi has also called it quits. After a close call with an avalanche last week, he was unsure of the stability of the mountain. That gave him reason to pause and consider whether or not it was wise to continue with his solo, alpine style attempt. In the end, he determined that it was not, and elected to go home instead.

This leaves just one team left on the mountain. Only the Poles remain to challenge Nanga Parbat this year. While things looked very promising early on, it now appears that the mountain will likely go unclimbed for yet another winter season. With three weeks to go, there is probably only a single summit push left on the schedule. Soon, the spring will bring heavy snows, making it very difficult to climb in Pakistan. But until then, they hope to get once more chance. We’ll have to wait to see if that happens.

Kraig Becker