Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Major Winter Expeditions Aiming at Big Mountains in 2018

With the autumn climbing season in the Himalaya all but over, we'll now turn our attention to the winter ahead. While there are never a large number of expeditions that take place during that season, the ones that do are usually incredibly interesting to follow. This year looks like it, will be no different as it is already shaping up to be a challenging one.

The big focus for the winter will no doubt be on K2, where the Polish Ice Warrior squad have set their sights on the only 8000-meter peak that remains unclimbed during the toughest, most dangerous season of all.

As we all know, K2 is an incredibly challenging mountain to climb under the best of conditions. But during the winter, it gets considerably more difficult thanks to high winds, heavy snows, potential avalanche conditions, and brutally cold temperatures. To date, it has turned back all attempts, and left a trail of fatalities in its wake.

The Polish team will arrive in K2 Base Camp next month just at the start of winter. They'll want every day of the season at their disposal, as it could potentially take a full three months to complete their objectives. The ten man squad while be led by 67-year old Krzysztof Wielicki, a veteran of numbers Polish winter expeditions dating back to the 1980's, including the first successful winter ascent of Mt. Everest. While he won't be going up the mountain himself, his years of experience and wisdom will help lead the team.

We will of course be following their expedition closely and cheering them on. For many, the winter ascent of K2 is the last major mountaineering objective to be achieved. It remains to be seen if that will happen this year.


Meanwhile, Tomasz Mackiewicz is hoping to return to Nanga Parbat for another attempt on that peak. He has been on the mountain for the past six years and is now hoping to make it a seventh. To do so, he has to crowdfund the money needed for yet another expedition however, which may tougher now that Nanga has already been climbed in winter. Simone Moro, Alex Txikon, and Muhammad Ali Sadpara completed that task in February of 2016. Speculation is that if Mackiewicz can raise the funds he will be joined by his climbing partner Elisabeth Revol once again this year, but the Frenchwoman has yet to confirm her plans for the coming winter.

Finally, it has yet to be revealed what – if anything – Simone Moro will do this winter. The Italian climber typically has big plans for the colder months of the year, having completed first ascents of several 8000-meter peaks during that season. Moro has been keeping his cards close to his vest in recent years however, waiting to reveal his expedition plans as he gets closer to the start of the climb. There is a good chance he has some new objective in mind, but hasn't revealed it just yet.

There will likely be a couple of other interesting winter expeditions to follow too. Right now, it is the calm before the storm as we transition from one season to the next. But it won't be long before the updates from remote corners of the plan begin to trickle in. Stay tuned.

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