Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Winter Climbs 2015: Summit Bid Over on Nanga Parbat

The summit bid for the Russian team of Nickolay Totmjanin, Valery Shamalo, Serguey Kondrashkin and Victor Koval is over on Nanga Parbat. The four men had hoped to move up towards the summit starting yesterday, but persistently bad winds has kept them from going above Camp 4 at 7150 meters (23,458 ft). The entire team has now returned to Base Camp where they will rest, regroup, and consider their next options.

The news of the aborted summit attempt came via Russian Climb, which received a text message that said: "We managed to return to BC through the bad weather. All are safe and sound. Nothing real on the route in such wind. You can fly to K2 at once" The last sentence is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the high winds, which would blow a climber all the way to K2 if they aren't careful.

The team has now been on the mountain since late December, and have been working the route ever since. While acclimatizing to the altitude they managed to build and stock four camps up the Rupal Face, and had returned to their high camp with the hope of completing the first winter ascent of the mountain. Unfortunately the weather has not been very cooperative in the past week, and they've been waiting for several days to move up.

The weather forecast calls for high winds for the next several days, so they'll have to wait in BC to see if another window opens. Hopefully they can recharge their batteries for another go, but conditions are harsh on the mountain at the moment. In addition to hurricane force winds at higher altitudes, there has also been plenty of snow and very cold temperatures too. That has taken its toll on the men, but perhaps they aren't quite done yet.

Meanwhile, updates from Italian climber Daniele Nardi have been few and far between in recent days. The last we knew he was in BC on the Diamir Face and was waiting out the poor weather as well. But an update sent via Twitter a few days back indicates that he has returned to the Mummery Spur to continue working his planned route. How much progress he has made, and under what conditions, remains unclear at this time. Hopefully we'll get further updates soon.

Similarly, there has been no word from Alex Txikon either. We know he arrived in BC in the last week in January, and has been stranded there due to the poor conditions too. If the weather has improved however, we can expect that he has started to acclimatize as well, and has moved up the Diamir Face, possibly to C1 or C2. But without any updates, this is just pure speculation. We'll just have to be patient and wait for news.

It is beginning to look like Nanga Parbat may turn back all of the teams once again this winter. There is still plenty of time left to go of course, but the weather has certainly deteriorated significantly in recent weeks, and the forecast doesn't look great for the next nine days. Still, two teams have only just arrived in Base Camp, so they are well rested, have plenty of supplies, and are determined. Perhaps their plan is to wait out the worst of the weather and make a dash for the summit in March before winter officially ends. Stay tuned to find out more.

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