Winter Climbs 2020: Weather Improves on Everest, Clock is Ticking on Broad Peak

The three remaining winter expeditions to 8000 meter peaks are all nearing a crucial stage. For the teams on Everest, good weather is in the forecast for the coming days, which means we could see some meaningful progress. But on Broad Peak, the stage is set for a summit push at long last, but the clock is ticking for the sole remaining climber on that mountain, who may run out of time before he can complete his mission.

We’ll start with an update from the world’s highest peak, where Alex Txikon and his team remain in Base Camp at the moment, but are preparing to head up the mountain tomorrow. The group, which includes Oscar Cardo, Chhiji Nurbu Sherpa, Pechhumbe Sherpa, and Tenjen Sherpa, reported in from BC today, where they indicate the weather is so good, and temperatures so warm, that they were able to enjoy lunch outside for the first time since they arrived in the Himalaya. The entire squad is enjoying one last day of rest and comfort before they head back up the mountain tomorrow. The forecast says that winds will be at their quietest over the next few days, and the hope is for the climbers to go as high as Camp 4, installing fixed ropes and depositing gear to that point on the mountain. If successful, they would likely then drop back to Base Camp, rest up and prepare for a summit push, all with out oxygen of course.

Meanwhile, Txikon’s next door neighbor is none other than German climber Jost Kobusch, who is in BC too. The 27-year old climber continues to recover from his injured foot, but is apparently on the mend and ready to go back up the hill too. He’ll climb on the West Ridge however, going solo and without oxygen as well. Kobusch hasn’t indicated what his plans will be for the next few days, but we have to believe he’ll try to take advantage of the good weather too. He’s been up to Camp 1 and even higher, along this difficult route, but he’ll need a lot wider weather window if he hopes to summit.

Finally, following yesterday’s update from Broad Peak, we know that Denis Urubko is going it alone. His partners, Don Bowie and Lotta Hintsa, have left BC and headed for home, which means that if Urubko reaches the summit, it will be a solo affair. The weather forecast for the mountain doesn’t look great for the rest of this week, so his options may be severely limited. Worse yet, he’s set a deadline of March 1 for completing his “true” winter ascent and reportedly the porters are already en route from Askole to collect the remaining supplies and gear. In other words, the clock is truly ticking now and if he is going to get a chance to complete his quest of a winter ascent of BP, it’s going to have to come soon.

That’s where everyone stands as of today. The season is reaching a crucial point soon and it will be make or break for all the teams Stay tuned.

Kraig Becker