Monday, February 10, 2014

Winter Climbs 2014: Weather Thwarts Summit Attempt On Nanga Parbat

The summit of Nanga Parbat continues to be an elusive target. A slight weather window opened on the mountain this past weekend, giving teams there a chance to make their push. But that window slammed shut quickly and all the climbers are now back in Base Camp. The week ahead doesn't look all that much better, so once again they play the waiting the game.

The Polish Justice For All team launched the summit bids last Thursday, hoping to make a dash up to the top if conditions cooperated. Tomek Mackiewicz and Pawel Dunaj were the two men who started the attempt, but by Friday, Dunaj was on his way back down due to the extreme temepratures. Mackiewicz pushed higher in an attempt to reach the snow cave they had dug at Camp 2, but by Saturday, he was in retreat as well.

Not far behind them were Simone Moro and David Göttler of the North Face Team. They began their summit push on Friday, hoping that the worst of the weather would have passed before as they went higher. They managed to reach 5700 meters (18,700 ft) before they decided discretion was the better part of valor and turned back as well. The temperatures were bitterly cold and the winds were far too dangerous to proceed further up.

These two teams are climbing on the Rupal Face, where the weather forecast says it will be very challenging for the rest of this week. High winds are expected on the summit, perhaps approaching 100 km/h (62 mph), which will make temperatures impossible to bear. That means that all these two teams can do at the moment is rest, wait, and hope for a chance to go higher. There are still five weeks of winter left for one of these squads to complete the first ascent of Nanga during that season, but the Poles have already had to extend their climbing permit once, so it is unclear if they can or will get a second extension. When the weather is that bad, the days disappear rather quickly, and while a true summit push is never a guarantee at any time of the year, that is especially true during the winter.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the mountain, Daniele Nardi is continuing his planned solo, alpine style summit attempt. He continues to make acclimatization hikes to let his body get use to the altitude, but unlike his friends on the Rupal Face, Daniele says that the Diamir is quiet and has little wind at the moment. Temperatures still quite frigid however, as he had hoped to go up to 5000 meters (16,404 ft), but his feet were so cold that he could do little to warm them. The Italian says that the weather is a bit confounding. The skies are often clear, and there hasn't been as much snow as he expected, but temperatures remain brutally cold. Ultimately, that could mean that it will be impossible to go to the summit, simply because it will just be too cold. He'll have to wait to see how things progress. As a late comer to the mountain, Daniele's climbing permit should be adequate to get him through what remains of the season.

Stay tuned for more updates soon. It seems there won't be much to report for a few days as these teams wait for more opportunities to come.

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