Winter Climbs 2016: Nanga Parbat Teams Prep For Blizzard

What a difference a week can make. Last week at this time, several teams on Nanga Parbat were working to put themselves in a position to make a summit push. A weather window had opened on the mountain, and a couple of the teams were hoping that they could take advantage of the situation to complete the first ascent of that mountain. Now, just a few days later, the climbers who remain are back in Base Camp and waiting out a massive storm that promises to drop heavy snows and high winds on their positions.

In preparation for the arrival of the storm, Alex Txikon and Ali Sadpara went out in the bad weather to place bamboo poles along their route from BC to the moraine that leads up the slope. They are predicting that heavy snow will fall in that area in particular, and the poles will help them find their way once the storm clears, avoiding potential hazards that include some large crevasses. The duo, working in conjunction with Daniele Nardi, have fixed their ropes up to 6700 meters (21,981 ft), and have fully acclimatized, so now they are simply waiting for the weather to clear up before launching a summit bid of their own. When that could happen is anyone’s guess at this point however, as the weather looks bleak for the next few days at the least.

Meanwhile, ExWeb is reporting that Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger may be changing up their plans. The two climbers have been on the mountain for a month now, and have managed to establish C2, but have struggled to get any higher on their chosen route. In order to acclimatize before a summit push, they need to establish more camps and spend some time at altitude. According to reports, Moro and Lunger have retrieved the gear that they had cached on the mountain, and are now rethinking their strategy. They are not prepared to go home just yet, but are possibly exploring other routes. Considering they are sharing BC with Alex, Ali, and Daniele, perhaps the five climbers will join forces and work together. (Update: that appears to be exactly what they’ll be doing!)

Over on the Rupal Face, the Polish Justice For All team is back in Base Camp and taking a breather. They’ve managed to climb as high as 7500 meters (24,606 ft), but it is now unclear what their plans are. At one point, the team had said that it was prepared to stay through the entire winter, but ExWeb says that they could be planning to pullout and head for home – and Stefan Nestler agrees – as some of the members of the team are running low on time. The squad hasn’t said this is the case just yet however, so we’ll have to wait to see if they are indeed wrapping things up.

There is apparently a late newcomer to the mountain however, as reports indicate that American climber – by way of Brazil – Cleo Weidlich has arrived on Nanga Parbat with a support team. She’s looking to have a go at the first winter ascent too, although starting this late in the season seems like quite a risk. She is in BC on the Rupal Face, and will begin her acclimatization efforts once the weather clears as well.

That’s it for now, but I’ll have more news from the mountain when there is anything to report.

Kraig Becker