Friday, March 13, 2015

Winter Climbs 2015: Nanga Parbat Team in Camp 4 After Failed Summit Bid

The long, strange winter climbing season on Nanga Parbat continues today with news that the climbing team on the mountain is back in Camp 4 after a failed attempt at the summit. It seems that three of the climbers – Alex Txikon, Daniele Nardi, Muhammad Ali Sadpara – were very close to completing the first winter ascent of the mountain, but unfortunately they took a wrong turn in the dark, missed their intended route to the summit, and found themselves in a position that wouldn't allow them to go up any further. They returned to C4 at 7200 meters (23,662 ft) where they hope to attempt the summit again tomorrow. 

According to reports from their support teams, the trio were able to climb at high as 8000 meters (26,246 ft) before having to turn back. Climbing in the dark, the team moved too far to the east, and completely missed the corridor that would have taken them to the summit, a mistake they don't intend to repeat when they make their second attempt tomorrow. Realizing their mistake too late, Alex, Daniele, and Muhammad decided to return to Camp 4 to rest and recuperate before so that they could try again tomorrow, when they'll use the same plan that they used today. The trio will set out at around 2 AM local time with the hopes of reaching the top during the morning hours. Setting out any earlier than that is impossible due to the incredibly cold temperatures. 

Weather conditions on the mountain are reportedly quite good at the moment, despite the extreme cold. The team climbed today under sunny skies with low winds. The forecast calls for much of the same tomorrow, which bodes well for their chances of successfully completing the climb. In fact, the squad feels like that if it weren't for the navigational error today, they would have topped out without much trouble. Hopefully the weather, and their physical conditioning, will hold out for one more day. 

Meanwhile, the fourth member of the team – Muhammad Kahn – is descending back to Base Camp. He had been with the group up until they reached Camp 3, but was unfortunately unable to go any higher. He should be back in BC today, where he will rest up and watch his teammates attempt to reach the summit. I'm sure that is a bittersweet feeling for a man who has been an important part of the efforts to climb Nanga Parbat thus far. 

After resting today, Alex, Daniele, and Muhammad Ali should be ready to make one more summit bid tomorrow. That means we could see history made this weekend. Stay tuned for updates on the team's progress, and the potential for the first winter ascent of Nanga. More to come soon. 


3 comments:

Sean Lally said...

Interesting, I wonder what navigational aids they use?

Kraig Becker said...

My guess is that they were just eyeballing it, thinking they knew the correct route, and then completely missed the path in the dark. When you get that high up on a big mountain, there aren't really any proper maps, just intel on the correct way to go.

Something tells me they won't make the same mistake again though.

Sean Lally said...

Yeah, I was wondering. Was thinking if they were recording the climb on gps (even if gps wouldn't be that useful for primary nav depending on how tight things are) they might be able to use the data from their mistake to correct if there are other complicating factors.
Yeah, guessing they won't do it again!