Friday, March 04, 2016

Winter Climbs 2016: Details on Nanga Parbat Winter Summit Emerge

Last week we saw history made when Alex Txikon, Ali Sadpara, and Simone Moro completed the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat. It had taken years of planning, preparation, and training for those three men to reach that point, while a fourth member of the team – Tamara Lunger – turned back 70 meters from the summit. In the days since the summit, details of the climb have begun to emerge with  tales of poor weather, difficulties due to altitude, and the brave choice of one team member that resulted in the success of the others.

National Geographic Adventure has the best overall summary of the story that I've seen so far, particularly of the final push to the top. For regular readers of The Adventure Blog, some of the details will already be well known. For instance, we know that the foursome started off as two teams, with Alex and Ali working together, and Simone and Tamara doing the same. By the end of January however, they had joined forces to work together on achieving the same goal.

Over the following couple of weeks they were mostly confined to Base Camp while they waited out the weather, occasionally making hikes up to Camp 1 to inspect the route. For the most part, they were biding their time, although acclimatization was becoming an issue. Eventually however, a weather window opened, and they were able to make their move, with the summit and mountaineering history waiting.

We followed the final push closely, but we didn't know exactly what was happening. After taking a few days to reach Camp 4 at 7100 meters (23,293 ft) they were ready to go. But the lack of acclimatization was wearing on them, especially Tamara. On the morning that they left for the summit, she was physically ill. Unable to keep any food, or even water down. But she joined her team anyway, hoping to become the first woman to complete a first winter ascent.

Unfortunately, that wasn't to be. She turned back 70 meters (230 ft.) below the summit. It was at that point that she told Simone she could make it to the top, but she wouldn't be able to make it back down. She urged them to go on, and she turned back to C4 on her own. This prompted Simone to call that decision “one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen in climbing.”

There is more to tell, but I would urge to head over to the Nat Geo article to get all the details. It is a good story of teamwork, perseverance, and determination. And when they were finished, only K2 remains as the last 8000 meters peak to be climbed in winter.

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