Monday, January 05, 2015

Winter Climbs 2014-2015: Updates From Nanga Parbat and Denali

Now that the holidays are officially behind us, and we're all returning to a more typical routine, it seems fitting that we start a new week with an update on the winter climbing expeditions that are underway in Pakistan and Alaska. Over the past few weeks, the teams have been getting settled into Base Camp, and have started the challenging work of acclimatizing to the altitude and the cold temperatures. Soon, the real work will begin, with each of the teams hoping to make history in the weeks ahead.

We'll start on Nanga Parbat, where three teams are looking to make the first winter ascent of that peak. The Russian squad of Nickolay Totmjanin, Valery Shamalo, Serguey Kondrashkin and Victor Koval arrived in Pakistan just before Christmas, and set out for BC on the Rupal side of the mountain almost immediately. They established Base Camp on December 27, and have been shuttling gear up the slope ever since. As of yesterday, they have reached 5900 meters (19,356 ft), and have firmly established Camp 1 at that location. They are currently back in BC resting up before they head up the mountain once again.

Over ont he Diamir Face, the first team of climbers in BC as well, with Tomek Mankiewicz and Elisabeth Revol sharing space with Daniele Nardi. While the trio are officially on the same permit, they aren't intending to do much climbing with one another, as Daniele is looking for a solo summit, while Tomek and Elisabeth join forces on their attempt at the first ascent. According to Russian Climb, they reached Camp 1 on January 2, so they are making solid progress thus far. Meanwhile, Daniele is just getting settled in Base Camp today.

A third team consisting of Iranian climbers Reza Bahadorani, Iraj Maani and Mahmoud Hashemi is preparing to depart for Pakistan. The trio intends to arrive on the mountain next week, and begin their expedition as well.


Over on Denali, Lonnie Dupre is forging ahead with his attempt at a solo-summit in January. Conditions remain very cold, but the weather has improved over the past few days, allowing him to move more than 160 lbs (72 kilograms) of gear up to 13,600 feet (4145 meters). Yesterday he planned to go up to 14,000 feet (4267 meters), where he will build a large snow cave that will serve as one of his high camps. Once that job is done, he'll begin carrying gear up to 16,000 ft (4876 meters), which will mark his next major campsite. At the moment, all seems to be going well, and Lonnie is happy with his progress.

Finally, it appears that Dupre won't be the only climber making a solo-summit bid on Denali this winter. British mountaineer Andy Kirkpatrick is also in the final stages of planning his own expedition to the mountain, and intends to arrive their in February. Kirkpatrick says that he has been thinking about this climb for 14 years, and he is now ready to make it a reality. We'll certainly be following his efforts closely in a few weeks as well.

That's all for today. Expect regular updates on each of these expeditions in the weeks ahead. It should be an exciting time on both Nanga Parbat and Denali. Perhaps this year could see the first winter ascent of Nanga at long last.

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