Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Winter Climbs 2015: A Weather Window Opens on Nanga Parbat

It appears that the plan for a late-season summit push on Nanga Parbat may be paying off. Yesterday I reported that climbers Alex Txikon, Daniele Nardi, Muhammad Ali Sadpara and Muhammad Kahn had launched an attempt to reach the top of the 8126 meter (26,660 ft) Himalayan giant, and while they were only in Camp 1 at the time, the hope was that the weather would turn in their favor and give them an opportunity to complete the first winter ascent of the mountain. Now, the forecast for the coming days has come in, and it appears that they'll get exactly the conditions they need to make a legitimate summit bid at last.

According to reports, a good period of weather should descend on the mountain beginning today and lasting for as much as five days. That includes clear skies, low winds, moderate temperatures, and no snow. This is a complete turn around over the weather the four climbers had been enduring for the past two weeks, and will be a welcome respite from the relentless weather conditions they have faced for much of the time that they have been on the mountain.

The plan had been for the team to attempt to push upwards to Camp 2 yesterday, but with the weather remaining poor, they decided to survey the route a bit, and then return to C1 for some much needed rest. On Sunday the four men spent 11 hours climbing up to Camp 1 at 5050 meters (16,568 ft), where they discovered their tents were buried under heavy snow. They spent another couple of hours rebuilding their campsite before they were finally able to drag themselves inside their shelters. This led to a much needed rest day yesterday that has allowed the squad to recharge their batteries and prepare for the next phase of the expedition.

Today the group hopes to move up to Camp 2 as the weather conditions continue to improve. If all goes well, they'll then go to C3 tomorrow and C4 on Thursday, which will set them up for a final push to the top on Friday or Saturday. The good weather is expected to last at least into the weekend, which means their success should hinge on how physically fit and strong they are feeling over the next few days, and whether or not the conditions along the route will allow them to proceed upwards. Heavy snow could still create avalanche dangers, which could still scrub the attempt as well.

This will be the teams final attempt on the summit. With the winter season running low, they no longer have the supplies, strength, or time to have another go. At this point it is either make history, or go home. Over the next few days, we should find out exactly which one it will be.

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