We have an update from Everest this morning, where Alex Txikon is proceeding with his winter ascent of the tallest mountain on the planet. The expedition is proceeding according to plan, and after nearly a week in Base Camp resting and recuperating, the Spanish climber has now headed up the mountain to take advantage of a small weather window that could potentially provide just enough of an opening to give him access to the summit.
Alex, along with his Sherpa climbing partners, left BC yesterday at 4:30 AM with an eye on reaching Camp 2 at 6400 meters (20,997 ft). From there, the plan would be to move up to Camp 3 today at 7300 meters (23,950 ft). From there, they’ll survey the weather to determine where they’ll go next, but there is some speculation that he might make a summit bid while the weather holds.
Personally, I believe Txikon and his team are possibly looking to establish Camp 4 and may even spend a night at around 8000 meters (26,246 ft), before descending back to Base Camp for one more rest. This weather window isn’t a very big one, and the team may not quite be ready yet to make a dash for the top. If they do build C4, and then descend they’ll be acclimated for the next weather window, which could come as early as next week. Time is on Alex’s side right now, as winter will last another six weeks. He’s likely to play it safe, be patient, and give himself the best possible chance at achieving his goals, which is a winter summit of Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen. That is something that has only been done once before by Ang Rita Sherpa, who did it back in 1987. The big difference this time around is that the entire expedition is taking place during the winter season. When Ang Rita did it, it was on the first day of winter.
Will Alex make a dash for the summit during this period of calm weather? Possibly. But my instincts say no – not yet. We’ll just have to wait and watch to see what happens. He is a strong climber and may see this as his best opportunity. For now, we wait for further news on his progress.