Winter Climbs 2016: Summit Bid Denied, Another Team Departs Nanga Parbat

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Heading into this past weekend we were keeping a close eye on the proceedings on Nanga Parbat, where the first summit bid of the winter was underway. Climbers Elisabeth Revol and Tomek Mackiewicz were on a light and fast attempt to become the first team to complete a winter ascent of that mountain, and when we last checked in they were at 7400 meters (24,278 ft). But as we all know, nothing is certain on an 8000 meter peak, and according to ExWeb the duo turned back and are now preparing to leave the mountain altogether.

According to reports, Elisabeth and Tomek never climbed any higher than the 7400-7500 meter mark that we tracked them at last Friday. At that point, they determined that while the weather conditions were stable, the temperatures were simply too cold to push any higher. So, they decided that the best course of action was to spend the night at 7200 meters (23,622 ft) and then descend back to Base Camp the following day.

Once they arrived back in BC on Saturday, they shared the news that they would be leaving the mountain. The duo are now short on time and resources, and were expecting to return to Chilas – a nearby village – yesterday or today. From there, they’ll begin the trek out and start the long journey home. For Tomek, this is the end of his sixth winter attempt on Nanga, and it was the third for Elisabeth.

Meanwhile, the trio of Alex Txikon, Daniele Nardi, and Ali Sadpara have pressed forward with their efforts. Over the weekend they completed fixing ropes up to Camp 3, which located at 6700 meters (21,981 ft). They also cached some gear and supplies there before returning to C2 for an overnight stay and dropping back down to BC the following day. They now have their route in place and are ready for a summit bid of their own, but they are waiting for a good weather window to make the attempt.

In his most recent update, Alex says that if conditions remain the same they won’t need to fix any ropes above C3. The three men now believe they have completed the most complex and challenging section of the climb, and simply have to wait for good weather to have a go at the top. Currently the conditions include high winds and cold temperatures, which is keeping them in BC. They are hoping that only a minimal amount of snowfall will hit the mountain before they get the chance to launch a summit bid however, as more snow would cause them to have to reopen certain sections of the route, potentially burning important resources and energy.

Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger are reportedly still in BC after they went up the mountain last week. The last update we had on their progress indicated that they had descended and were planning on resting for a few days and watching the weather. It is unclear whether or not they are now ready for a summit push too, but it would seem that they should be close at this point. Again, it will be the weather that determines when they can go back up.

Finally, the Polish Justice For All team has now reached 7500 meters (24,606 ft) and have set up Camp 4 at that point on the mountain. They’re all back in Base Camp at the moment awaiting a weather window of their own. They are prepared to stay on the mountain as long as possible, so patience is the key to success for this team.

If you’d like to catch a glimpse of what it was like for them on the hill, check out the video below. It was shot on their most recent slog up the mountain, and has some scenes that give us an indication of what it like there. In a word – cold!

Nanga Dream 15/16 Justice for All! from Michał Obrycki on Vimeo.

Kraig Becker