Winter Climbs 2018: Teams Reach Camp 1 on Everest and K2

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Despite the fact that the winter climbing season is really just getting underway in the Himalaya and Karakoram, good progress is already being made by the teams on both Everest and K2. The squads on those mountains have taken advantage of good conditions and have spent little time in Base Camp before heading up to Camp 1.

Alex Txikon, Ali Sadpara, and their support team have already been very busy on Everest. Not only did they shuttle their first gear loads up to C1 by Thursday of last week but today they’ll be spending the night at that spot as they truly begin their acclimatization process. It took the team just four days to finish the route through the Khumbu Icefall, which is a pretty impressive accomplishment to say the least. Remember, during the spring climbing season on Everest, there is a whole team of Sherpas who handle those duties.

So far, Alex and his crew are ahead of last year’s schedule. It has taken a lot of work for each man to carry loads as heavy as 35 kilos (77 pounds) up the slopes to the C1 campsite, but as of now they have finished that process about five days faster than they did last year. There is obviously still a lot of work to be done for the Basque mountaineer to claim his no-oxygen winter ascent, but things are definitely off to a good start.

Meanwhile, the Poles are also making good headway in their efforts on K2. As of today, they have not only established Base Camp on that mountain, but they have also set up their communications systems to share progress with the rest of the world too. Apparently they haven’t been resting on their laurels since arriving in BC last week either, as they have already climbed as high as 5700 meters (18,700 ft) while scouting the route and acclimatizing. Tomorrow they will make their first foray up to 5900 meters (19,356 ft) to begin shuttle gear to create Camp 1 at that point as well.

Finally, Lonnie Dupre and climbing partner Pascale Marceau have delayed the start of their climb on Mt. Lucania in Canada after the weather took a turn for the worse. The mountain is currently experiencing temperatures that are hovering around -40ºC/F with the windchill and windspeed in the 45+ km/h (27 mph) range. Those speeds are down from as much as 110 km/h (68 mph) over the weekend, but things should improve further over the next few days. They hope to get a good window for their flight to the mountain where they can finally get underway.

Stay tuned for more updates as the season continues to unfold.

Kraig Becker