Winter Climbs 2015: Russians in Camp 4 on Nanga Parbat

Nanga Parbat Pakistan2

Last week I posted that the Russian team of Nickolay Totmjanin, Valery Shamalo, Serguey Kondrashkin and Victor Koval has launched a summit bid on Nanga Parbat, although it was unclear then where exactly they were on the mountain. Over the weekend we received new updates, courtesy of Russian Climb, that indicate that the men are now in Camp 4 and are waiting out a bad storm with the hope of pushing towards the top in the next few days.

According to their most recent updates, the team is sitting in C4 at 7150 meters (23,458 ft), which puts them about 975 meters (4000 ft) below the summit. That final push to the top will be a tough one even in good weather, but the latest dispatches also indicate that they are currently experiencing 100 km/h (62 mph) winds, along with a roaring blizzard and extreme cold. Those conditions are expect to persist through Tuesday, with a period of relative calm arriving shortly there after. Forecasts indicate that the winds will then drop to about 50 km/h (31 mph), which will still make things challenging. Visibility is also said to be almost zero at the moment as well, although that will certainly improve to a degree if the winds drop as expected.

If the weather does indeed improve over the next few days, the Russians could attempt to reach the summit later this week. They’ll have to hurry though, as ExWeb indicates that the chances of success on Nanga go down after the first week of February due to a general deterioration of the weather and the onset of fatigue. Almost every previous winter expedition to the mountain had abandoned their attempts by the start of March, and 85% of those attempts reached their high point by February 10.

Over on the Diamir Face, the three teams that are attempting that route are all currently holding in Base Camp. Conditions are not any better on that side of the mountain, and the recent arrival of the Iranian squad, as well as Alex Txikon, means that they are just getting themselves established on the mountain. As the weather improves, those teams will start their acclimatization efforts.

Meanwhile, Italian climber Daniele Nardi is ready to go up, but is currently waiting for the winds to die down and the snow to settle. Apparently there is a high probability of avalanches at the moment, and until the recent snowfall settles it is too dangerous to proceed.

For now, it looks like the Russians are the team that is in the best position to complete the first winter ascent of Nanga. We’ll just have to wait to see if they get the weather window they need to proceed up. Stay tuned for further updates soon.

Kraig Becker