Winter will officially arrive in the Northern Hemisphere tomorrow, December 21. That means that for any teams planning a winter ascent in the Himalaya or other big mountains are now on the clock, giving them until March 20 to complete their expeditions. Of course, that is still plenty of time acclimate and prepare for a challenging ascent, which will ultimately be dictated by the weather. As the new season dawns, it now appears as if there are a couple of other major peaks to keep an eye on this season.
We already know that the Polish team led by Krzysztof Wielicki is preparing to head to K2 this winter for what promises to be the most challenging and difficult climb of them all. K2 is the only 8000-meter peak that remains unclimbed in winter and it isn’t likely to give up its summit easily. The talented and experienced squad is expected to arrive in Pakistan after Christmas and begin the arduous task of climbing one of the most difficult peaks in the world, during the most difficult season.
The Poles won’t be alone in Pakistan. Their fellow countryman Tomek Mackiewicz is already there, as is his climbing partner Elisabeth Revol. The duo are going back to Nanga Parbet, a mountain that Tomek has struggled with for sometime. The 8126 meter (26,660 ft) mountain has been the Pole’s white whale over the past few years, allowing him to get incredibly close, but still not granting access to its summit. The duo are reportedly in Islamabad now, but are preparing to leave for Skardu and Base Camp within a few days.
Finally, there has been plenty of speculation that Alex Txikon is headed back to Everest this winter, but this time he may not be going alone. The Spaniard struggled mightily to make a winter ascent of the world’s highest peak last winter, only to come up just short. He has hinted that he would go back for another go this year, but there hasn’t been any official announcements yet.
Perhaps more intriguing is that he may be bringing a couple of strong climbers to come along for the ride. There are a few hints that Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger may be a part of this year’s expedition, bringing perhaps the most experienced winter climber in the world onto the project. Moro has four first ascents of 8000-meter peaks under his belt, and his wisdom and experience would be invaluable. Lunger also came within 70 meters of the summit of Nanga Parbat back in 2016 before having to turn back due to illness, so she brings plenty of experience too.
Of course, we’ll be keeping an eye on these expeditions as the winter unfolds, with regular updates to come.
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