Thursday, January 30, 2014

Winter Climbs 2014: Daniele Nardi In Nanga Base Camp

As expected, the weather has taken a turn for the worse on Nanga Parbat, at least on the Rupal Face. And while teams on that side of the mountain seek shelter back in Base Camp, Italian Daniele Nardi has begun the all important acclimatization process as he starts his solo, alpine style ascent along the Diamir Route.

Nardi arrived in BC on Tuesday and  immediately went to work constructing his campsite, which he is sharing with a few porters and support staff. He indicates that the weather on his side of the mountain is good, although there is lots of snow on the ground. All of that powder made it a challenge just to get to Base Camp, but it seems conditions are good at that point.

Yesterday he donned a pair of skis and began traveling up the mountain. It was just an up-and-back to test his legs and lungs while scouting the route ahead. There is heavy snow on the upper slopes as well, but Nardi is prepared for those conditions. It is winter after all. With his first acclimatization hike out of the way, he will likely go back up today. The weather forecast indicates that high winds and more snow is in the forecast for the next few days, so he'll likely be back in BC and getting comfortable there through the weekend.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the mountain, the North Face team of Simone Moro, David Göttler and Emilio Previtali are all back in Base Camp following an acclimatization rotation that took Simone and David up to Camp 3, located at 6800 meters (22,309 ft). They fixed ropes nearly to the Mazeno Ridge, and now that milestone location is within easy reach over the next few days, provided the weather cooperates.

Simone indicates that the route is very ice this year, making for a more difficult and technical climb than they have seen in the past. There are sections of the mountain that are vary treacherous, particularly when the winds increase, as they are expected to do this weekend.

For there part, the Polish Justice For All team is pressing ahead with their plan of attack too, which could include an attempt on the summit early next week. They have built an intermediate camp between C2 and C3, where they can rest while working their way through the more technical sections of the climb.

The Poles intend to push up to 7000 meters (22,965 ft) and dig a snow cave to help shelter than from the high winds that are expected to hit on Sunday. The forecast says those winds could exceed 100 km/h (62 mph) but once the storm passes, there is a period of relative calm in the days ahead. The Polish team would like to be in position to make a summit push right after the winds subside, so if possible, they intend to bivouac in the snow cave, then make an immediate summit push right after. Whether or not they'll be able to pull that off remains to be seen.

The stage is now set on Nanga Parbat. All of the climbers are now on the mountain and there are possible summit attempts to come next week. But this mountain won't be tamed easily, and the weather remains a wild card as always. We'll just have to wait and watch to see if the first winter ascent will come this season.

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