Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Winter Climbs 2018: Camp 2 on Everest, Stalled Out on K2

The major mountaineering expeditions that we're following this winter seem to have updates on an almost daily basis at the moment. That's a bit unusual considering the weather can often cause them to stall out for extended periods of time. But, there is news on several fronts with progress being made.

On K2, the Polish team reports that two of the members of the team have now gone up to 5900 meters (19,356 ft) and returned safely to Base Camp. Their jaunt up the mountain was meant to scout the route, and they discovered that there was little protection from the elements to be had in their intended spot for Camp 1, so instead they will set things up at 6200 meters (20,341 ft) instead.

The plan is to start shuttling gear to that spot in the coming days, but high winds are expected to hit the mountain soon, which will leave them tentbound in BC while they wait for things to improve. After that, they'll continue their acclimatization and gear shuttling efforts.

While the Poles sit and wait for the weather to improve, Alex Txikon continues to make good progress over on Everest. After spending the night at Camp 1 on Sunday, the following day he and one of the Sherpas made their first foray up to Camp 2 at 6500 meters (21,325 ft). Right now, the expedition is running well ahead of schedule, shaving off several days from the timetable that was used last year.

Alex, climbing partner Ali Sadpara, and the Sherpa support team have taken advantage of a good weather window to get plenty of work done on the mountain, including shuttling 600 meters of rope up to C2. They are currently back in Base Camp and resting up, with the Basque mountaineer reporting that high winds hit Everest while they were on their descent, so it could be a few days before they head back up again.


Finally, after a few delays due to poor weather conditions, Lonnie Dupre and Pascale Marceau should be ready to fly out to their starting point today. They've set their sights on Mt. Lucania, located in the St. Elias Range in a remote area of the Canadian Yukon. At 5240 meters (17,192 ft) in height, it is the third highest peak in Canada. What makes it so intriguing is the extreme cold they'll face on the way to the top.

High winds and cold temperatures kept the duo's flight grounded for the past few days, but conditions have improved enough to allow them to get started today. The'll be dropped off at a safe landing zone, then ski to the mountain, pulling sleds filled with gear behind them as they go. Those sleds will have about 100 pounds (45 kg) of supplies and gear to help get them through this expedition.

Stay tuned for more updates as the season continues to unfold.

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