Winter Climbs 2017: Expeditions Now Underway

1280px Everest fromKalarPatar

Winter is here, and that means we’ll have some interesting expeditions to follow closely over the next few months. A few weeks back it seemed like there would be little winter action this year, but there are a couple of good stories to watch unfold, including some in the Himalaya, including the first winter expedition to Everest in quite some time. Let’s start there. 

Spanish climber Alex Txikon and climbing partner Carlos Rubio, along with a small support team, spent the New Year in Nepal, where they are currently trekking to Everest Base Camp. They plan to climb the highest mountain on the planet during the toughest season of them all. Alex and his team arrived in the Khumbu Valley on December 29, and have slowly been making their way towards Everest ever since. The trek is the start of the acclimatization process, but they should reach Base Camp later this week. Once there, they’ll likely spend a day or two getting settled and surveying the landscape before they start the process of moving through the Khumbu Icefall and traveling up to Camp 1 as the climb truly begins.
Meanwhile, Elisabeth Revol has set her sights on climbing Manaslu during the winter. She trekked to BC on that mountain last week, and arrived there on December 28. Since that time, she’s been focused on acclimatizing and getting settled in preparation for her first rotation up the mountain, which should come soon. Elisabeth says that conditions are cold and windy, as you would expect in the Himalaya during the winter months. 
Solo climber Lonnie Dupre is preparing to depart on his winter expedition as well. Dubbed Cold Hunter One, he plans to climb the 4441 meter (14,573 ft) Mt. Hunter in Alaska, which is a cold, remote, and technically difficult mountain in just about any season, let alone winter. You may recall that Lonnie made a solo summit of Denali in January a couple of years back, and he expects this expedition to be just as challenging, despite the big difference in altitude. He is preparing to depart for Base Camp today, weather permitting. As usual, he’ll catch a bush plane out to this starting point when conditions allow.
Finally, ExWeb is reporting that a pair of climbers have launched a winter expedition in the Karakoram as well. Qudrat Ali and Samiya Rafiq first planned to take on an unclimbed 6200 meter (20,341 ft) peak in the region near Khurdopin Pass. The two climbers will then push on up through that pass as well, which is the highest in the mountain range at 5790 meters (18,996 ft). Conditions are expected to be brutal with temperatures dropping as low as -30ºC/-22ºF, with high winds and heavy snow likely. The expedition began back on December 24, and is set to wrap up on January 12, so it is a brief but tough excursion into the mountains. 
That’s it for today. Expect more updates on these expeditions as the season unfolds. 
Kraig Becker