Winter Climbs 2020: Broad Peak Summit Push Aborted Again

Despite the fact that we just posted an update on the major winter climbing expedition yesterday, there is still quite a lot to report today as well. Over the past 24 hours we’ve seen a summit bid on Broad Peak come to an abrupt end, while both teams on Everest have encountered drama of their own. Such is climbing in the big mountains during the winter, when so many variables have to come together in order to find success.

We’ll start with an update from Broad Peak, where yesterday Don Bowie and Denis Urubko were heading up for an attempt on the summit. With the weather window looking promising and conditions good, it seemed the stage was set for the duo to find success on that peak. But on the way up, Bowie took seriously ill with what Urubko calls the “pulmons.” While I’m not sure what that means exactly, there is a good chance he may be indicating that his Canadian climbing partner is suffering from pulmonary edema. The duo ended up spending the night in a crevasse at 7000 meters (22,965 ft), which was the same place Urubko took shelter on his previous summit bid. After that, they stashed some gear nearby and started back down. Today, they are back in Base Camp and resting up, with the hope that Bowie will recover soon.

Thankfully  Don is safe and resting in BC, but unfortunately that means that another good weather window will come and go without taking a real crack at the summit. Today, conditions are reportedly quite good, which meant the two men would have been in position to summit had things gone differently. Urubko says that the ropes are now in place up to 7500 meters (24,606 ft) and that they still have two weeks to go to complete the expedition. In other words, he is remaining optimistic that they can still complete their mission.

Meanwhile, over on Everest, Alex Txikon and company are back in BC as well after a very good acclimatization rotation. The team went up nearly to Camp 3 before strong winds forced them to turn back. That push came after two nights at Camp 2, which now has them ready to go up to C4 once the weather clears again. Before turning back, the group managed to stash some gear at 6500 meters (21,325 ft) and fix a few ropes, paving the way for a potential summit bid should conditions allow.

Finally, Jost Kobusch is also back in Base Camp after a bit of a harrowing experience. Yesterday, he set off to inspect his route up to Lho La but ended up moving slower than expected, possibly because his injured foot is still recovering. This created a cause for concern when he had not returned to camp by nightfall. Fortunately, he was able to descend in darkness and make his way safely to his tent, which is where he is currently resting too.

Kobusch says that he is finally starting to regain his strength after having a sick stomach for the past few months while in the Khumbu. He says that he is about 20% better, which is giving him about 20% more energy too. Right now, his updates are upbeat and optimistic as he awaits his chance for a potential summit push as well.

That’s all for now. As we head into the weekend it looks like most of the climbers will be in BC for the near future. We’ll just have to wait to see what next week brings.