Winter Climbs 2019: K2 Team in BC, Government Shutdown Delays Denali Bid

The current shutdown of the U.S. government has had far-reaching consequences across the country and brought lawmakers to a standstill. One of the areas that is deemed nonessential is the National Park system, which remains closed until the ongoing stand-off between the President and Democratic leaders is resolved. That has put a crimp on one climber’s plans to scale the highest mountain in North America this winter, as he now finds himself unable to complete the final paperwork to launch his expedition.

According to a post on Stefan Nestler’s Adventure Sports blog, German climber Jost Kobusch had intended to make a solo attempt on Denali this winter. The alpinist had cut through all of the red tape that was necessary to make the climb, save one step. The final task was to stop by the ranger station in Denali National Park prior to heading to the mountain. There he would meet with the rangers before heading off into the wilderness alone. There’s just one problem –– the ranger station is currently closed due to the shutdown.

Kobush tells Nestler that he’s been planning the expedition for more than a year and a half, and has jumped through all of the hoops necessary to make a solo winter climb possible. Unfortunately, the ongoing shut down is preventing him from being able to head to the mountain. He now says that since he’s already in Alaska he’ll climb some other peaks in the area as a tune up and will come back next year for another go at Denali. Hopefully the shutdown will be over by then.

Meanwhile, over on K2 the united International team has arrived in Base Camp after trekking in from Askole. The first half of the squad reached BC on Tuesday, with the others following along yesterday. They’ll now spend a day or two setting up camp and getting prepared before they’ll start scouting the route. Once they’ve decided on a clear plan of action and divided up into smaller sub-teams, they’ll start making progress up to Camp 1.

Simone Moro and  Pemba Gelje Sherpa have also arrived in Base Camp on Manaslu in Nepal. The duo completed their puja ceremony today and are now preparing to head up to Camp 1 to start their acclimatization process. Their plan is to eventually climb in alpine style, but first they’ll need to allow their bodies to get use to the altitude and the cold temperatures. They’ll likely spend a night or two at C1 once they head that direction.

Finally, Daniele Nardi, Tom Ballard, Rahmat Ullah Baig and Karim Haiat are back in Camp 3 on Nanga Parbat. The team was forced to retreat last week due to poor weather conditions, but now that things have improved they’ve headed back up. Presumably they’re looking to establish one last camp along their route before considering a summit bid. They’re hoping to climb a new route along the Mummery Rib this winter.

That’s where everyone stands right now. Stay tuned for more updates as these expeditions truly start to get underway.

Kraig Becker