Winter Climbs 2018: Txikon in EBC, Poles Trekking to K2

The winter climbing season on the big mountains is just getting underway and we’ll be following some of the major expeditions very closely in the weeks ahead. Chief among them is the no-oxygen attempt on Everest by Alex Txikon and the attempt at a first winter ascent of K2 by the Polish team. While both expeditions are just now entering their early stages, we still have updates on progress.

Txikon has arrived in Base Camp on Everest after spending just 8 days trekking to the South Side in Nepal. The team arrived two days sooner than they did last year when the Basque climber made his first winter attempt on Everest, which was ended by poor weather conditions high on the mountain.

Alex, along with his climbing partner Muhammad Ali Sadpara of Pakistan, and their support crew are just now getting settled in BC, which they have established at 5300 meters (17,388 ft.). That’s a bit higher than where they placed the camp last year, but the new spot provides more sunshine and warmth during the day and is located closer to the Khumbu Icefall, saving time and energy when shuttling gear up to the higher camps.

The team hopes to have camp established today and begin scouting their route through the icefall in the next few days. From there they’ll start the acclimatization process by moving up the mountain as the weather permits.

Meanwhile, the Polish Ice Warriors team is now trekking to K2 to begin their attempt on that mountain. As the only 8000-meter peak that remains to be climbed in winter, K2 marks a major undertaking and the squad is eager to reach Base Camp and begin scouting potential routes. The launched their trek on December 29, and typically it takes about a week of tough hiking to reach the starting point of the climb. That means they should be arriving sometime in the next few days and hopefully we’ll get regular updates on their progress after that.

Tomek Mackiewicz and Elisabeth Revol are already on Nanga Parbat, where they have started their acclimatization process. The duo haven’t shared a lot of details from their expedition just yet, but they have now climbed above 6000 meters (19,685 ft.) as they begin to acclimate to the thinner, colder air. Tomek and Elisabeth arrived in BC last week and have slowly been assembling their camp and scouting the area. A part from a few support crew members in camp, they will be climbing in alpine style this winter.

Finally, Lonnie Dupre and his climbing partner Pascale Marceau have set their sights on a first winter ascent in the Canadian Yukon. They’ll take a crack at the 5226-meter (17,146 ft.) Mount Lucania, which is seldom visited in the first place and has yet to be cracked during the winter months. They are expecting -50ºF/-45ºC temperatures, gale force winds, multi-day storms, and all of the other wonderful obstacles that come along with climbing in the winter. They will be getting underway shortly as well.

That’s all for now. More updates as the season progresses.

Kraig Becker