Monday, January 04, 2016

Winter Climbs 2016: Teams Go To Work on Nanga Parbat

It has been a couple of weeks since we posted any updates from Pakistan, where at least five teams are now preparing to attempt the first ascent of Nanga Parbat in winter. As I'm sure most of you know, Nanga is one of just two 8000-meter peaks that have yet to be climbed during the very difficult winter season. The other major peak that holds that distinction is K2, which will have no visitors this winter at all. But over the past few years, there has been progress made on Nanga Parbat, and this year just might be the one that sees a successful summit at long last.

The first team on the mountain this year was the Polish Justice For All squad. They actually arrived in the region as far back as the middle of November, and have been busy acclimatizing ahead of the start of the winter season. Once the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere passed on December 21, they immediately went to work and have been busy fixing ropes and establishing camps ever since. They have now reached an altitude of about 5500 meters (18,044 ft) and have been shuttling gear up to their intermediate camps before heading higher on the Schell Route.

Elsewhere, Adam Bielecki and Jacek Czech have arrived in Base Camp on Nanga Parbat after spending several weeks acclimatizing in the Andes in South America. Adam says that the snow is already quite heavy on the mountain, but the pair have managed to establish Camp 1 at 4900 meters (16,076 ft). They have since returned to Base Camp where they are catching their breath, warming up, and planning the next move.

The international team led by Alex Txikon, and consisting of Daniele Nardi and Ali Sadpara arrived on the mountain a few days back and have already gone to work too. They've already taken 70 kilograms (154 lbs) up to C1, which is located at 4850 meters (15,912 ft) using snowshoes and sleds to aid in the process. So far, the team reports that the weather has been good, but that is expected to change in the next few days, when heavy snow is in the forecast.

Italian climbers Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger reached Nanga Parbat on December 27, and have joined forces with Elisabeth Revol and Tomek Mackiewicz, who spent a considerable amount of time on the mountain last winter. They have been acclimatizing over the past few days, and most likely have established their first camp as well. As part of the process, the group has now gone as high as 6000 meters (19,685 ft) and spent a couple of nights above 5500 meters (18,044 ft) as well. They're now back in BC resting, and sorting through some logistical issues, including the fact that the porters are now requesting 5 times the price that they agreed upon to shuttle gear up to BC. Such are the challenges of an expedition to Pakistan.

For the most part, the winter climbing season is only now just getting underway. Some of these teams are prepared to stay on Nanga Parbat throughout the entire winter if necessary, although weather conditions will dictate any chances they have of actually reaching the top. For now, they are all being patient, taking their time, and watching the forecasts closely. We'll be watching their progress just as closely in the days to come. This could be the winter season in which history is made.

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