Winter Mountaineering 2014: K2 and Nanga Parbat Take Center Stage

1024px K2 2006b

Earlier this week we turned out the light on the 2014 fall Himalayan climbing season by wrapping up the last couple of expeditions that were still ongoing. Now, there will be a bit of a respite on the big mountains, while most of the attention turns to the spring climbing season on Everest. But before that occurs, the winter climbing season awaits, and in just over a month’s time, teams will begin heading to some of the most difficult peaks on the planet in an attempt to summit during the coldest, most demanding season of all.

As of now, there are just two 8000 meter peaks that remain unclimbed in winter, They are K2 and Nanga Parbat. This winter, teams have targeted both peaks in an attempt to knock off one, or both, of these incredibly difficult mountains.

While most of the winter climbing expeditions are heading to Nanga, the team that we’ll be watching the closest will no doubt be on K2. As previously announced, a team consisting of climbing all-stars Denis Urubko, Adam Bielecki and Alex Txikon, who will be joined by Artiom Braun and Dmitry Siniew, has set its sights on a new route on the toughest mountain on the planet. The team will climb from the Chinese side of K2, up the North Face, along the Northeast Ridge. According to ExWeb, the squad will depart for the Karakoram on December 16.

Of course, this team has a great deal of experience climbing during the winter. Urubko was part of the team that put up the first winter ascent of Gasherbrum II a few years back, and Bielecki has two first ascents during the season under his belt as well – Gasherbrum I and Broad Peak. They’ll need all of that skill, experience, and determination if they hope to reach the summit of K2 in a few months.

Meanwhile, ExWeb is also offering solid details on the plans for Nanga Parbat as well. They claim that Tomek Mackiewicz, Daniele Nardi, Elisabeth Revol and Roberto Delle Monache will all share Base Camp on that mountain, although beyond that point Tomek intends to make a solo summit bid. That will be a bold expedition to follow as well, as he attempts to go up the Mummery Rib. The group is expected to depart for Pakistan on December 20.

According to Russian Climb, Nickolay Totmjanin, Valery Shamalo, Serguey Kondrashkin and Victor Koval are also attempting Nanga this winter. They are planning on setting off for Pakistan on December 22 for their own winter 8000-meter expedition.

Finally, Simone Moro is up to something in the Himalaya this winter, but we’re not sure exactly what yet. He has promised his wife he would not attempt K2, so he won’t join his friend Denis Urubko on that expedition, and he has also ruled out Nanga Parbat. Apparently, the expedition is still coming together, and he isn’t quite ready to reveal plans just yet. Hopefully we’ll hear more about what he has in store in the days ahead. As usual with Simone, he generally has some big idea. Perhaps he’ll bring his friend Ueli Steck along for the ride as well.

That’s all for now. These expeditions will begin to take center stage in about a month, but until then, the mountaineering world will be a bit quiet. It is certainly shaping up to be an interesting winter in the big mountains though. Stay tuned for updates.

Kraig Becker