Thursday, March 05, 2015

Winter Climbs 2015: Resupply on Nanga Parbat Extends Expedition

It has been very long season on Nagna Parbat, where one team continues to struggle with the mountain in an attempt to complete the first winter ascent of that peak. An aborted summit attempt last weekend sent the three Iranian climbers that had been a part of the international expedition home, while Spanish climber Alex Txikon, Italian Daniele Nardi, and Pakistani's Muhammad Ali Sadpara and Muhammad Khan remain with the faint hope of getting another chance to summit. But time is running low, the window for success becomes narrower with each passing day.

A few days back the team ran out of some of the more important food staples including eggs, flour, and sugar. Kerosine for the generators is also starting to run low as well, but fortunately the team is expecting the weather to clear enough today for a group of porters to shuttle up a resupply to Base Camp. The squad has been stuck there all week with a steady downpour of snow bringing an accumulation of more than five feet (1.5 meters) over the past few days.

For now, the four climbers are content to see wait for Mother Nature to provide them with one last weather window before the official end of winter arrives on March 21. That is still more than two weeks away at this point, so the hope is that perhaps early next week conditions will improve enough for them to head back up. Considering how much snow has fallen in recent days however, they may find the trail above them to be nearly impassable. Climbing through such deep snow is exhausting work at any altitude, but on an 8000 meter peak it is excruciating. All of that snow will also lead to instability on the upper flanks of the peak, which means avalanches become a greater threat as well. When the weather does improve, the team will want to wait a few days just to let things stabilize before they proceed up.

Meanwhile, over in Nepal Simone Moro and Tamura Lunger have been officially evacuated from Manaslu. As I wrote in a post yesterday, the duo called for a helicopter pick-up after an avalanche nearly struck Base Camp. But I erroneously reported that the two climbers would be heading home to start thinking about projects for the spring climbing season instead. Stephen Nestler says that instead they will travel to the Khumbu Valley and continue to climb and acclimatize before returning to Manaslu in a few weeks time. Apparently their permit is good for 75 days, and they still hope to complete their goal of summiting the mountain via Manaslu East, a 7992 meter (26,220 ft) sub-summit that will eventually take them to the 8167 meter (26,794 ft) main peak.

That climb will now come in the spring however, after the weather conditions have improved, and the heavy snows on the mountain have had a chance to melt away. Until then, Simone and Tamara will continue to work on their conditioning in preparation for the re-launch of the expedition.

The winter season is quickly coming to an end now. I'll continue to monitor the situation on Nanga Parbat for any developments.

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