Friday, February 08, 2013

Winter Climbs 2013: Summit Push Begins On Nanga Parbat

It looks like patience may be about to pay dividends on Nanga Parbat where several teams are preparing to launch summit bids. The weather has improved over the past few days and the forecast looks good heading into next week. As a result, several teams are making a move, knowing full well this could be the only window they get all winter long.

The one climber who seems to be in the best position to bag the summit at the moment is Tomek Mackiewicz, climbing with the Polish team. Tomek was at 7000 meters (22,965 ft) two days ago and there hasn't been an update on his progress since. But with the weather improving and winds settling down some, he could easily be higher on the mountain and within striking distance of the first winter ascent of Nanga ever.

Not far behind Tomek is French snowboarder Joel Wischnewski, who left Camp 2 a few days back and was planning on moving up as well. We haven't heard any word from Joel since and the biggest concern is for his health. He has been very sick over the past few weeks and it is questionable whether or not he should be going for the summit at all.

The Italian-French team of Daniele Nardi and Elisabeth Revol have proclaimed that they are ready for the summit. They report that the sun is out and they are preparing to move up, although high winds are expected to continue throughout the weekend. It seems they'll climb up to Camp 2 in the next few days, then try to take advantage of an improved weather window that begins early next week.
Meanwhile, the Hungarian-American team, now down a man, has returned to BC where presumably they'll begin moving back up the mountain as well. The climbers haven't acclimatized at the higher altitudes yet however, so they will likely lag behind the others. It seems improbable that they'll be able to take advantage of this emerging weather window.

With all of these teams and climbers jockeying for position, it would appear that there is a good chance of seeing someone successful bag a winter ascent on Nanga this year. It is early yet, and there are still plenty of challenges ahead, but if the weather proves cooperative, I suspect someone will top out.

Finally, over on Broad Peak the Polish team on that mountain has moved back up to continue fixing ropes. They got a nasty surprise when they returned to Camp 2 however, as their tent was completely blown away by the high winds from earlier in the week. Those winds were in excess of 100 kph/62 mph, which a well placed mountaineering tent should be able to survive, but in this case they were too much for the shelter.

With no place to stay, the climbers retreated to C1 and a second group is moving up today with a replacement tent, more rope and other supplies. If all goes as planned, they should re-estbalish C2 today and return to fixing the ropes over the weekend.

The next week or so should be an exciting time. Stay tuned for more updates.


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