Monday, February 25, 2013

Winter Climbs 2013: Weather Keeps Everyone Stationary

Reports out of Pakistan are starting to sound a bit like a broken record. The entire region is stuck in a bad weather pattern and it is keeping the climbers locked in place while they wait and watch the skies. The forecast doesn't look particularly good over the next few days, which means that one team will remain in Base Camp waiting for an opportunity to go up, while another waits to discover what has become of a lost climber.

On Broad Peak there is little news from the Polish team that is hoping to make the first ascent of that 8051-meter (26,414 ft) mountain. They were forced back from the summit early last week and have been in BC ever since. They are still hoping that conditions will improve and give them a shot at completing their climb, but the forecasts indicate that bad weather will remain over their position late into this week. If that holds true, they'll be unable to move up for another couple of days and they'll have to hope that their high camps remain in position when they start their next summit bids. One thing is for sure, they'll certainly be rested and ready to give it another go if a weather window does actually open.

The weather report on Nanga Parbat isn't any better as that mountain is expecting heavy snows throughout the week. Considering nearly everyone has left Nanga for the season, that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. But search and rescue teams remain on the Rupal Face where they have been searching for missing French snowboarder Joel Wischnewski and the poor weather conditions are not helping their cause any.

Wischnewski set off on a solo summit bid nearly three weeks ago and hasn't been heard from since. The SAR team has gone has high as Camp 2, which was his launching point on February 6, but there has been no sign of the climber. Since he was traveling in alpine style there is little gear to be found and because the weather has been so awful, no one has been able to go above C2 in their search. It could be another three or four days before they'll have the opportunity to go up, but at this point we have to wonder if they'll ever find anything at point.

I've tried to remain optimistic about Joel's wellbeing over the past 2+ weeks, but it seems the writing is on the wall. It seems nearly impossible that he could still be alive and healthy after this long on the mountain. At this point it seems the search teams are simply looking for his remains to try to figure out exactly what happened to him. I no longer believe that this story will have a happy ending.

My condolences to Joel's friends and family. It must be awful to simply sit and wait for news. Stay strong.

2 comments:

Martin said...

It's very sad for Joel. Reading at his blog and at his motivations, this is just a premeditated suicide from somehow trying to escape his daily life.

Kraig Becker said...

Martin: There definitely was a lot going on in his mind while he was attempting this climb. If you read between the lines, it seems he wasn't in a good place.

Definitely a sad story.