Winter Climbs 2019: Mother Nature Keeps Everyone in Base Camp

K2 Pakistan
Photo Credit: Say123 (via WikiMedia)

The three major winter climb expeditions that we’ve been following closely are all essentially stuck in the exact same spot at the moment –– Base Camp. As is typical with a winter expedition on any mountain, Mother Nature dictates when and where progress takes place. In this case, heavy snows, high winds, and cold temperatures have descended on the Karakoram and the Himalaya, preventing the teams from gaining any significant ground. This is a good reminder that when it comes to the coldest and hardest season of the year, patience may be the most important climbing skill of all.

On K2, the combined international teams returned to BC on January 21 and have been waiting out hurricane force winds ever since. It seems that the boys have settled into their camp quite nicely, but are eager to head back up the mountain to resume their work as soon as possible. So far, they’ve managed to fix the ropes to 6300 meters (20,699 ft), but progress has stalled while they wait out the storms. They are hoping to head back up the mountain this coming weekend and continue installing the lines.

Over on Nanga Parbat, there has been no updates whatsoever over the past few days. Last we knew, Daniele Nardi, Tom Ballard, Rahmat Ullah Baig and Karim Haiat had climbed back up to C3 to shuttle gear and acclimatize, but over the past few days the squad has gone radio silent. In fact, several of Ballard’s post on Facebook have been deleted, which is a curious turn of events for sure. In his last dispatch, Nardi talked about retreating to Base Camp when the weather went bad, so for now we can only assume they are stuck there waiting out the weather too.

Finally, over on Manaslu in Nepal, Simone Moro and Pemba Gelje Sherpa have also checked in, indicating that snow continues to fly there. The forecast says that the storm will continue into the middle of next week, so they may be stuck in place for awhile. The duo had gone all the way up to Camp 2 while acclimatizing early on, but will have spent more than a week in BC by the time the skies clear.

That’s all for now. Not much to report at this point as everyone sits and waits. Hopefully we’ll have further updates following the weekend.

Kraig Becker

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