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Monday, February 13, 2017

Winter Climbs 2017: Waiting Out the Weather on Everest

A summit push is underway on Everest, where Alex Txikon and his team are attempting a winter ascent of the highest mountain on the planet. But the current ascent hasn't been an easy one, and although a weather window is still expected to open later this week, the team is currently in Camp 3 at 7400 meters (24,278 ft) waiting for an opportunity to climb higher.

Posting on Twitter, Txikon says that the team actually made it all the way up to Camp 4 at 7950 meters (26,082 ft), but because the winds were so high he, along with Nurbu Sherpa and Chhepal Sherpa, were forced to retreat. Winds in excess of 70 km/h (43 mph) made it impossible to build their tents and take shelter there, so they have dropped back down to C3 to rest and wait out the current storm. That may take another day or two, as conditions are expected to remain the same through Tuesday, meaning they could move back up to C4 by Wednesday, with a final push to the top coming on Thursday.

Alex is attempting to summit the mountain without the use of supplemental oxygen, which is hard enough during the prime climbing season in the spring, let alone in the winter. This feat has only been accomplished once in the past, so we could potentially see history in the works. Of course, there is a lot of climbing to be done yet and the weather has to cooperate, but the team is reportedly fit, in good spirits, and ready to go. They have said however, that this will be there one and only summit bid, so hopefully everything comes together to give them a legitimate chance of topping out.

We'll continue to keep an eye on Alex's progress. If the weather forecasts are true, it seems likely that he'll hold in place tomorrow as well, although if the winds do subside, the team could move up to C4 and be ready to take advantage of the anticipated weather window that is coming later in the week. I'll post more news as it comes, but for now, take a look at the video below to get an idea of what Everest is like during the winter.


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