Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Winter Climbs 2017: Is It Over on Everest?

Yesterday, I posted an update on the progress of Alex Txikon and his team, who have been attempting a rare summit of Everest during the winter months, and without supplemental oxygen no less. When last we checked in, the team's summit bid had stalled out due to high winds, and they were forced to retreat to Camp 3 to seek shelter. Now, comes word that they are descending back to Base Camp, and that the expedition may be over.

As reported in that previous story, Alex, along with Nurbu and Chhepal Sherpa had reached C4 at 7950 meters (26,082 ft). But when they got there, the discovered that the winds were so strong that they couldn't even pitch their tents, so they elected to turn around and head back down to C3 to rest. At the time, the plan had been to wait for better weather to make the final push to the top. The winds were expected to remain strong through today, but good weather was in the forecast for later in the week. But now, the forecast may have shifted and the team seems to be heading back to BC.

According to ExWeb, Alex and his companions started back down the mountain this morning with the intent of going all the way back to Base Camp. Once there, they'll weigh their options and decide what to do next. There is a good chance however that they will elect to call off any future summit bids, as when they set off on this attempt the Spanish climber indicated that this would be their final push. If that's the case, it may be just a matter of a few days before they pick up their gear and start the trek home. On the other hand, they may decide that they have enough stamina, determination, and supplies to give it another go, provided the forecast looks promising.

For now, we'll have to wait to see how things proceed. We should know more in another day or two. It has been a long winter in the Himalaya for Txikon and his team, but they have also been climbing very strong and things have looked promising. Perhaps they're not quite done yet.


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