Thursday, February 08, 2018

Winter Climbs 2018: Injury on K2, Summit Bid Scheduled for Everest

It seems the news from the two big winter expeditions that we've been following is coming at a fast pace. Just when you think there isn't much new to share, suddenly their is an update that brings important information. Such is the case for both K2 and Everest, where things are progressing nicely.

We'll start on K2 where the Polish Ice Warrior team continues to make slow but steady progress. They aren't particularly close to launching a summit bid, but with more than a month to go in the winter season, they still have plenty of time.

But, the team did have quite a scare this week when a large rock tumbled down the slope and hit Adam Bielecki in the face, breaking his nose and tearing a large gash in the process. Teammates Piotr Tomala and Marek Chmielarski performed emergency surgery in Base Camp, where Bielecki received six stitches after being helped down by two high altitude porters. He is not in any danger however, and will resume climbing after resting for a few days.

The rest of the team has continued with its regularly scheduled acclimation rotations, with several members now having spent the night at Camp 2 to allow their bodies to become accustomed to the altitude. The winds have been remained fairly light, at least below 6500 meters (21,325 ft) so far, although snow seems to be falling steadily on most days. How that will impact things as the team goes higher has yet to be seen, but for now things are going according to plan.

Over on Everest, Alex Txikon and Muhammad Ali Sadpara are starting to see their schedule firm up as well. The squad has been in Base Camp after climbing as high as 7850 meters (25,754 ft), poor weather forced them back down to BC where they have been waiting for things to improve for the past week or so. High winds and heavy snow have kept them in place, but things may be improving.

To make matters worse, sections of the Khumbu Icefall have collapsed as well, forcing the team to repair the route they are using through that treacherous section of the mountain. For now, things seem to be holding, but it is a good reminder that the icefall is extremely dangerous, even during the more frigid months of the year.

Conditions are expected to get much better starting this weekend however, which could clear the path for them to go back up next week. In fact, Ali Sadpara has said as much on Facebook indicating that they hope to make a summit push next week. We'll have to wait to see if the summit window actually opens, but for now things are looking optimistic.

Elsewhere, the Pakistani team making the first winter ascent of Mashbrum II has called it quits after finding too much snow on the route. It was making the climb without much funding or resources, and the conditions were just too much for them to overcome. The team is already on its way home.

Finally, there has been an update from Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger, who are attempting to climb the 3003 meter (9852 ft) Pik Pobeda located in the Chersky Range of Siberia. The duo have been on the mountain for awhile now and have established Base Camp and Camp 1. They indicate that there is a lot of snow there and temperatures are hovering around -45ºC/-49ºF, with strong winds.

That's all for now. More updates soon I'm sure.

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