At the end of last week I wrote that Spanish climber Alex Txikon had set out from Everest Base Camp to take advantage of a brief weather window that had opened on the mountain. At the time, there was some speculation that he might be making an attempt on the summit, although I suspected it would be his final acclimatization rotation instead. Now, after a very busy couple of days on the mountain, we know two things: The weather window has closed and Alex is ready to make history once again this winter.
Txikon and his band of Sherpa climbing partners left BC last Thursday to make a push up the Lhotse Face. The team made solid time as they enjoyed good weather on their way up the mountain, first staying in Camp 2 for the night, before proceeding up to C3 the following day. Ultimately, they would establish Camp 4 at 7950 meters (26,082 ft) on Saturday, where they would deposit gear that will eventually be needed for the coming summit push. Once they dropped off the equipment, they immediately turned around and descended back down the mountain, with the Sherpas remaining in C2 while Alex himself continued back to Base Camp.
Now, all the members of the team have safely reached BC, where they are awaiting a storm that is expected to arrive early this week. That storm will bring high winds, lots of snow, and very cold conditions. But, it isn’t expected to be a large weather pattern, and the forecast says it will move on later in the week. That means that another weather window could open within a few days, giving the team a chance to go for the summit at long last.
Alex says that he is now full acclimatized but he needs rest before launching his summit bid. He’ll get time to regather his strength while the weather is bad. Once the storm passes and he’s had a few days to recuperate, the final push will begin. The Spaniard says that he is now ready to go and the stage has been set. All he needs is a stretch of good weather conditions and he will have a go at the summit.
As if climbing Everest in the winter isn’t challenging enough, Alex is also doing so without the use of bottled oxygen, something that has only been accomplished once in the past. You may recall that the Spanish climber is use to making history during the winter, as last year he was part of the squad that put up the first ascent of Nanga Parbat during that season as well.
For now, just like Alex and his teammates, we have to sit and wait. But the next time he leaves BC, it should be for an attempt on the summit. I’ll let you know when that happens and will have regular updates on his progress in the days ahead.