Winter Climbs 2019: K2 Teams Back to BC After Considering Summit Push

Just a very quick update on the whereabouts of the two teams on K2. Yesterday, I reported that both the Spanish/Polish team led by Alex Txikon and the Russian/Kazakh/Kyrgyzstanian squad led by Vassilij Pivtsov had returned to Base Camp following the onset of poor conditions again. That isn’t exactly the case however, as lead climbers from both teams stayed at altitude with the hopes of potentially making summit bids.

Over the weekend, Txikon reported that he and one of the Sherpas had reached Camp 2 amidst poor conditions. They stayed there and decided to wait for the rest of the team to join them, which happened yesterday. Today, the plan was to assess the weather and hopefully move up to Camp 3, which this team hasn’t established yet. From there, if conditions continued to improve, they would consider making a push for the top. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen as the news came through while I was composing this blog post that they have elected to go back to BC due to the winds.

Meanwhile, the Russian-led team went even higher on the mountain, reaching 6416 meters (21,049 ft) with the hopes of going to the base of the Black Pyramid today at 7100 meters (23,293 ft). Unfortunately, the conditions deteriorated quickly for them too and the group has announced that it is heading down. 60 km/h (37 mph) winds were already buffeting the mountain and things are only expected to get worse now.

Initially, the weather forecast had called for improved conditions from Tuesday to Thursday of this week, which could have been enough time for a summit dash if they were in the right position. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened and the weather window is closing once again. Now, they’ll head back to BC, rest, wait, and watch the skies again. Clearly they won’t make the March 1 deadline set by some to be a “winter” ascent, but as I said yesterday it is my belief that winter lasts until March 20, so they still have time.

More updates as there is news to report.

Kraig Becker