Things are going according to plan on Nanga Parbat, where the four remaining climbers are in the midst of a summit bid and have now reached Camp 2 at 6100 meters (20,013 ft). Yesterday, the team of Alex Txikon, Daniele Nardi, Muhammad Ali Sadpara and Muhammad Kahn spent ten hours climbing up the most technical section of the ascent in order to reach the next camp. Now, they’ve put themselves in a position to possibly make history, although the weather has not quite improved the way they had hoped.
When they set off from Camp 1 yesterday the climbers first had to wade through deep snow on their way up the Kinshoffer Wall, a technically demanding climb that was made all the more difficult because the fixed ropes were buried under several meters of fresh snow. That made for tough going for the early stages of the climb, but as they went higher the amount of snow on the mountain lessened, and by the time they were approaching C2 there was just a few centimeters of powder on the ground. That bodes well for conditions higher up on the mountain, and lessens the chances of an avalanche, but as they arrived in Camp 2, they also saw an increase in the winds, which could be problematic moving forward.
The weather forecast has indicated that conditions should be improving over the next few days, with a good weather window developing into the weekend. Whether or not that proves accurate remains to be seen however, and considering this will be the team’s final attempt at completing the first winter ascent of the mountain, a lot is riding on that forecast being accurate.
After spending the night in Camp 2, the plan is to proceed up to C3 today. The team’s dispatches indicate that they are exhausted from their efforts, but that moral is high and they are as determined as ever to reach the summit. If the make it to C3 as expected, they’ll then climb to C4 tomorrow, potentially take a rest day if the weather permits, and then go for the summit on the weekend. A lot of pieces need to fall into place before that happens however, and for now the squad is taking each day as it comes.
At 8126 meters (26,660 ft) in height, Nanga Parbat is just one of two 8000 meter peaks that have yet to be climbed in winter, with the other being K2. This season there were no less than five teams attempting to become the first climbers to complete that winter ascent, and of those, these four men are all that remain. It has been a very long, and difficult, winter on Nanga, and next week that season will draw to a close at long last. This team can hear the clock ticking on their efforts, and they know that this is their last chance to make history. We should know in another day or two if they are going to be able to complete the expedition, but until then it is a very tense time on a mountain that has a reputation for being incredibly difficult during just about any season.
Good luck to Alex, Daniele, and the two Muhammads as they enter the final stages of the expedition. Get up and down the mountain, and home safely.