Winter Climbs 2020: K2 Team Detained in Skardu

Yesterday I posted an update on the winter climbing season that sits just ahead, sharing the news that pair of virtually unknown climbers was en route to K2 to attempt the first winter ascent of that mountain.

The duo, who seemingly only have experience climbing in the Pyrenees, have come out of nowhere to announce their intentions of attempting the second highest mountain in the world during the most difficult season to climb. That story cast some doubts about those plans, including the fact that they reportedly didn’t even have a climbing permit. But an update today indicates that the expedition may be over before it even reaches the mountains.

As a recap, climbers Jonathan Bordes  and Vincent Saura, who together make up the  Saura-K2-Bordes expedition team, announced last week that they had set their sites on a winter ascent of K2.

The two men were already in Pakistan and preparing to head to the mountain, although as ExWeb reported only two climbing permits have been issued for K2 this winter, and the names “Bordes” and “Saura” don’t appear on either of those permits. They do have a permit to trek to K2 Base Camp however, which as I said in my post yesterday is still a worth and challenging adventure, particularly during the winter.

Since we shared that story yesterday, the Explorers Web team has updated its original article with the news that Bordes and Saura have been stopped in Skardu, which is the last major city before leaving for the Karakoram.

According to ExWeb sources, the two men were carrying far too much gear and equipment for a mere mountain trek, indicating that they may have been planning to go ahead with their foolhardy plan, even though they didn’t have the proper permit. They were also reportedly not being all that subtle about their intentions either, bragging to anyone who would listen that they were going to make an attempt on K2.

It remains to be seen whether or not they’ll actually get a valid permit and move ahead with the climb, but my feeling is if they could have afforded that permit, they would have just gone through the proper channels to begin with.

Even if they were to somehow come up with the proper paperwork, the question remains as to whether or not they should even be on the mountain. Again, as I said yesterday, K2 is no place to try to gain experience, particularly in the winter.

We’ll just have to wait and see how this saga plays out.

Kraig Becker

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