Thursday, December 21, 2017

It's Official! Alex Txikon Heading Back to Everest This Winter

Just one day after I posted a story speculating on his return to Everest this winter, it is now official. Spanish climber Alex Txikon is returning to the Big Hill for the second year in a row to attempt a winter ascent without oxygen, and he's being joined by an old friend on this endeavor.

While Alex himself has yet to confirm the expedition, news leaked out when his climbing partner – Ali Sadapara from Pakistan – posted farewell images to his Facebook page as he said goodbye to friends and family. Ali has been on several major winter expeditions over the past few years, and has become a national hero in his home country. His departure is big news there, as he sets out to climb the world's highest peak in the coldest season of all.

The Spanish climber is expected to confirm the climb tomorrow, December 22, the first full day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. As the article linked above indicates however, some of his sponsors have already stared hinting at the impending climb as well.

Last year, Txikon made a valiant attempt at a true winter ascent without oxygen, but came up just a little short. Only one climber has ever been able to reach the summit of Everest in winter without the use of bottled O's. That was Ang Rita Sherpa, who accomplished that feat back in 1987. I also say a "true" winter ascent, because many of the winter summits of Everest actually took place in the first day or two of the season, meaning that teams acclimated in the fall, then made a dash to the top when the calendar officially changed. In the case of Txikon, he is waiting until it is officially winter to actually begin the climb, meaning all efforts will take place during the cold and harsh season.

Yesterday we speculated that Txikon may be joined by Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger on this expedition, but so far there is no indication that that will happen. That announcement, if it is real, could come tomorrow when the expedition is officially confirmed too. For now, we'll just have to wait to see.

We followed Alex's attempt on Everest all season long last winter, and this year will be no different. Stay tuned for regular updates on his progress.

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