Winter Climbs 2019: Progress on Nanga Parbat, K2 Teams En Route

The winter climbing season in the Karakoram, Himalaya, and Alaska continues to ramp ups as the major expeditions we’ll be following in the weeks ahead make slow, but steady progress. January is now well upon us, and some of the teams are still on their way to Base Camp, while others have reached some important milestones. Still, there is plenty of winter left to go and the truly challenging work is yet to come.

We’ll start with an update from Nanga Parbat, where Italian climber Daniele Nardi and Brit Tom Ballard, along with two Pakistani climbers, are working on a new route up the mountain. The team has established their Camp 1 and have spent a few nights acclimatizing there, while also shuttling some gear up to C2, located at 5100 meters (16,732 ft.). Ballard reports that the acclimation process is going well so far, with the squad focused on going slow, but steady, towards their objectives.

Meanwhile, the two teams destined for K2 this winter are on a similar trajectory at the moment. The seven members of the International team made up of Russians, Kazakhs, and Kyrgyzstan climbers arrived in Islamabad last week where they organized their gear and took care of last minute business. After that, it was onto a bus for the 30 hour ride to Skardu. Today they’re spending 12 hours in 4×4 vehicles driving to Askole, where the road end and the trek begins. If all goes according to plan, they will start the 8-10 day walk to BC tomorrow.

Alex Txikon’s group arrived in Skardu earlier today and will likely begin the drive to Askole tomorrow. At the moment, they’re roughly one day behind the International team, but they’ll both arrive in BC at about the same time. The Spanish mountaineer hasn’t committed to a route on K2 yet, but he and his squad could be sharing Abruzzi line. If so, Alex has said that they will cooperate with one another in their attempts at the first winter ascent of the mountain.

Over in Nepal, Simone Moro has wrapped up his acclimatization climb on Mera Peak having reached the summit this past Saturday. That’s just the beginning of the expedition however, as the Italian climber and his support squad will now move on to Manaslu Base Camp. Moro intends to make solo summit of that mountain, in fast and light alpine style, this winter.

Finally, Lonnie Dupre is in Talkeetna, Alaska and preparing to set out on his winter climbing expedition. He reportedly has a clear weather window for today, which means he’ll fly out to his starting point before beginning this trek to BC on Mt. Hunter. While not nearly as high in altitude as the other big mountains in this article, Hunter is extremely cold and snowy. Dupre will be making a solo attempt on the 4442 meter (14,572 ft.) peak during the most difficult time of the year, although having made a similar climb up Denali a few years back he is more than well equipped to deal with this climb too.

More updates to come soon as these teams get settled into place and start their ascents.

Kraig Becker

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