The winter climbing season is about to get underway here in the Northern Hemisphere, with all eyes once again turning to K2 in the months ahead. We already know that several teams have announced plans to attempt that mountain this winter, although whether or not those expeditions will actually come together remains to be seen. But last week, a new team announced plans to attempt the first winter ascent of the world’s second highest mountain, although their announcement also comes with a healthy dose of skepticism.
The Saura-K2-Bordes expedition team is made up of climbers Jonathan Bordes and Vincent Saura, who appear to have climbed extensively in the Pyrenees, but not so much anywhere else. The duo don’t seem to have any experience in the Himalaya or the Karakoram, and yet they have body claimed that they will attempt K2 this winter. So much so, that they are already in Pakistan and presumably making their way to Base Camp a week after they have announced their plans.
The problem is, the duo don’t appear to have a permit to climb K2 and are only allowed to trek to BC. According to ExWeb, just two teams have been granted permits so far, neither of which may even make it to the mountain. Those permits have been issued to Denis Urubko, who is focused on climbing Broad Peak, with K2 as an after thought, and Mingma Gyalje Sherpa of Imagine Nepal, who is struggling to raise the necessary funds to get his K2 expedition of the ground. Bordes and Saura haven’t secured a permit yet, although it is conceivable that they are working out those logistics now.
I admire any mountaineers who venture into the Himalaya and Karakoram in an attempt to expand their climbing resumes and improve their skills and experience. But K2 is not the mountain to do that on, even under the best of conditions. In winter, it may just be the most wild and dangerous place on the planet. Numerous other great climbers have failed to crack the mountain during that time of year, so for these two to show up and feel they have a legitimate shot at it seems ridiculous. A failure to respect the “Savage Mountain” is at the very least a foolhardy approach, and potentially deadly at its worst.
Perhaps Saura and Bordes are just trolling us all and they never meant to actually attempt to climb the mountain. A winter trek to K2 Base Camp is a worthy adventure in its own right, and perhaps what they’ve been going for all along. Either way, we’ll continue to keep an eye on their progress and provide updates. Right now, they’re the only team heading that direction.