Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Winter Climbs 2018: Camp 3 on Everest, K2 Team in Skardu

The tragic events on Nanga Parbat have dominated the mountaineering news cycle over the past few days, leaving most of us on the edge of our seat as we watched those events unfold. With the outcome now revealed, it is time to get back to climbing and we have updates from the major expeditions currently underway.

We'll start on Everest, where Alex Txikon and Muhammad Ali Sadpara reveal that they were also following the events on Nanga Parbat closely. Txikon had climbed with Tomak in the past and is no doubt feeling the loss deeply. But, he still has things that he needs to accomplish on the highest mountain on the planet, and the team continues to make good progress there.

Alex and company have now established Camp 3 on the mountain and spent last night in C2 as part of their acclimatization efforts. Today, they'll shuttle more gear up to Camp 3 and will spend the night there as well. After that, it will be back to Base Camp to rest and recuperate before deciding their next move. If a weather window comes, and the team is feeling strong, it is possible they could start to talk about summit bids. Alternatively, they could also look to establish Camp 4 before even thinking about going any higher. They still have plenty of time left in winter and there is no major rush, although they will have to take advantage of any weather windows that come their way. For now, the plan will be to wait and see what Everest offers them.

The members of the Polish team that assisted in the rescue operations on Nanga Parbat are preparing to head back to K2 to resume their own expedition there. After helping get Elisabeth Revol down the mountain and back to Islamabad, the squad has now gathered in Skardu where they are waiting for the weather to improve before going back to Base Camp. That could take a few days but they are committed to resuming their attempt to become the first to summit K2 in winter, despite the effort they just put in as part of the search and rescue team.

Finally, Lonnie Dupre and Pascale Marceau are finding it tough going on Mt. Lucania in Canada. The duo have been tentbound for the past two days with high winds preventing them from climbing higher up the mountain. They are currently camped at 12,000 feet (3673 meters) while 40 mph (64km/h) winds whip outside their shelter. Wind chills have dropped the temperature to roughly -42ºF/C, making it dangerous to be outside in those condition.

The plan is to wait out the storm, and drop down to a safer location before reevaluating the situation and planning their approach to the summit. At 17,257 feet (5259 meters) in height, Lucania doesn't push climbers with its altitude. Instead, it offers technical challenges and difficult weather instead, which is exactly what Lonnie and Pascale are feeling at the moment.

That's all for today. I'll post more updates when there is news to share.

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