Monday, March 02, 2015

Winter Climbs 2015: Bad Weather Thwarts Summit Bid on Nanga Parbat

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

While I was off climbing the tallest mountain in Africa, the combined international team of Alex Txikon, Daniele Nardi, and their Iranian and Pakistani companions have continued to work very hard on completing the first ever winter ascent of Nanga Parbat. Overt he weekend, the team launched a summit bid at last, but true to form, bad weather set in, forcing the entire squad to return to Base Camp, with at least a few of the climbers deciding to head home.

According to a report from ExWeb, the team abandoned their summit push on day two after finding the route was altered dramatically by a recent snowstorm that dumped plenty of powder on the mountain. The mountaineers were able to proceed above Camp 1 but discovered waist-deep snow and encountered several small avalanches, which convinced them it was time to turn back at 5300 meters (17,388 ft).

With unstable conditions prominent on Nanga Parbat at the moment, Alex and Daniele have decided to wait for another weather window before attempting a second summit push. Exactly when that attempt will begin remains a mystery at this time however.

Discretion being the better part of valor, the Iranian team consisting of Reza Bahadorani, Iraj Maani and Mahmood Hashemi have decided that Nanga is simply too unsafe to proceed this year. After surveying the intended route up the mountain, the trio have elected to pull the plug on their expedition and are now preparing to head home. With excessive amounts of snow and the growing threat of avalanche danger, they feel that it is simply too unsafe to proceed.

Meanwhile, over on Manaslu, Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger are stuck in Base Camp as they wait for the weather to clear as well. They arrived on the mountain amidst good conditions a few weeks back, and were quickly able to establish Camp 1 at 5220 meters (17,125 ft), but since then the weather has taken a turn for the worse, preventing them from moving upwards. Heavy snows continue to fall on the mountain, making it very difficult to proceed.

For each of these winter climbs the click is now ticking. With the calendar now officially turned to March, there are just three more weeks of winter remaining. That is plenty of time to launch another summit bid on Nanga Parbat, but on Manaslu conditions are going to have to be exactly right for Simone and Tamara to have a crack at the top. Their late start has put them behind schedule, and now it seems unlikely that they'll get the chance to actually make a summit push. Of course, anything can happen, and three weeks is still plenty of time, but the weather will have to stabilize dramatically for them to have a true chance.

Stay tuned for more updates soon.

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