Friday, January 30, 2015

Winter 2015 | Nanga Parbat: A Mountain to be Climbed by First Week of February

The mountain needs to be summited before the first week of February or else the storms just get nasty,” Ian Overton, American climber who attempted Nanga Parbat in winter 2012/13, told Explorersweb in a recent interview. This statement is strongly supported by weather pattern and statistics of winter attempts on Nanga Parbat.

A) Historically, almost all winter Nanga Parbat expeditions reached BC during the month of December.

B) Highest point of 85% winter expeditions was reached before February 10th. David Gottler and Tomek Mackiewicz’s 2013/14 attempt, when they reached 7200m on March 1st, is the only exception.

C) Similarly, all winter teams, except last year’s two Schell route expeditions, abandoned Base Camp before the start of March.

Snow at Diamir BC after recent storm. Photo: Daniele Nardi

Polish climber Tomek Mackiewiz strongly emphasized on early arrival and quick summit attempt, this year. He arrived in Pakistan before the mid of November. After pre-expedition acclimatization in Rupal valley and quick trip to 6000m on Diamir side, Tomek (along with Elisabeth) managed to climb till 7800m in a good weather window around second/third week of January. However, snow and wind in past ten days haven’t let any team to resume the climb.

Arrivals at BC
Contrary to aforementioned statistics, two Nanga Parbat teams have just reached the mountain this week. Iranians’ arrival was delayed due to visa issues. Spaniard Alex Txikon has to arrange Nanga Parbat expedition on quick basis after Chinese authorities cancelled his team’s K2 permit. At BC, the climbers were welcomed by snowstorm and bad weather. They are awaiting improvement in weather to start working on Kinshofer route.

Nanga Parbat Diamir Face; Source

Going Up
On January 28th, Russian team messaged from Rupal BC, “We begin to climb up”. A day earlier, the team reopened route from BC to ABC after snowstorm covered the tracks. Previously, they had made a deposit at around 7150m on Schell route.

It’s not known whether Russian team wants to make a summit attempt or will be returning to BC. Mountain-Forecast predicts bad weather for a week, though.

Daniele Nardi
Recent snowstorm dumped lot of snow at Diamir BC and the Italian climber is still waiting for avalanches to ease up, before resuming his climb on Mummery Rib. Yesterday, he wrote, “we beat the track towards Camp1, the sun comes out shyly as we try to figure out how much snow dumped on the mountain. We wait patiently while we make 4 laughter.

Photo: Daniele Nardi
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Winter 2015 | Waiting: The Usual Winter Nanga Parbat Business

Winter Nanga Parbat has started showing its colour: hurricane winds thrash the summit and heavy snow is reported from valleys below. Teams on both side of the mountain are still in Base Camps; resting, recovering and waiting for better conditions. Nanga Parbat is known to keep climbers waiting for weeks. Nevertheless, there was a prolonged good weather window a week ago as we witnessed an incredible summit push on Diamir side and significant progress on Schell route.

Elisabeth Revol has already reached France. Tomek Mackiewicz’s injuries are being treated in Gilgit. Daniele Nardi and Russian team await better weather conditions. Alex Txikon and Iranian climbers are about to reach Diamir side of the mountain.

Learning the Art of ‘Chapati’
From Diamir BC, Daniele Nardi talks about lack of climbing activity and team’s involvement in various tasks to get through the bad weather spell. On Saturday night, he wrote, “we play cards, we drink tea, Roberto has to heat the gas tank with warm water, Federico makes a new movie while the gas is being ignited. I read a book, write news and see other men playing the game!”

Things haven’t changed much since then, as Daniele updated yesternight, “continues to snow. Here at base camp we take lessons to make Chapati and the Paratha. First mix flour and water, and add oil. A light cooking and the bread is done. Good lunch.”

Summit of Nanga Parbat on Jan 23rd evening. Source

Tomek in Hospital
Injured Tomek Mackiewicz, who left BC on Jan 21st, is now receiving medication in a hospital in Gilgit. Return journey was challenging due to injured leg, frostbitten feet and the snowstorm. About 50cm of snow fell the night Tomek was in Ser village. Polish climber says that the help from local villagers made his safe departure possible.

New Arrivals
Alex Txikon and three Iranian climbers are on the way to Diamir BC. As per Jasmine Tours (expedition operator for both teams), Alex left Chilas two days ahead of Iranians. A squad of ten security personnel is also trekking with the teams.

Russian Team
Schell route climbers returned to BC on January 20th and probably are still waiting for improvement in conditions. Latest message from team reads, “we set camps at 5100m, 6000m, 6700m and made a deposit at 7100m. There is hard winter ice everywhere above 6000m".
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Monday, January 26, 2015

Winter 2015 | Elisabeth Revol Describes the Summit Push

Elisabeth Revol is back home after a quick return trip from Nanga Parbat. In recent blog post, she details the amazing journey from 7800m on the mountain to France, in less than a week. Here is a summary of the article, with help from Google Translate.

January 17th: The 7800m Day
Elisabeth starts the chronicle with description of intense cold and the amazing beauty at around 7200m on the evening of January 16th. Everything except sleeping bags was frozen. Considering the wind factor, it was chilling somewhere around -40/-50 °C. However, the sunset at that altitude was simply breathtaking. The intense cold joined by excitement about upcoming summit push didn’t let the climbers sleep all night.

It wasn't a long night, anyway. After spending an hour getting ready, the two climbers were out of their tent by 3 am. “The awkwardness of the narrow space (inside tent) disappeared; we were in our element - crampons and ice axes - at work”

The ascent continued in freezing wintery conditions. “This was really the first time that I felt such a cold, I think. I knew that any stop or variation would be fatal. We were on a 8000er in extremely harsh conditions of winter. Even if the route wasn’t quite technical, winter conditions meant that it was one of the most committed climbs in my life.”

By mid-day, they were at around 7800m where the route joins Hermann Buhl’s line of Nanga Parbat’s first ascent. But the weather was turning worse and they were forced to retreat. “When I reached out, I could "feel" the summit with the touch of my finger. It was very close. My heartbeat increased, but we were to remain calm. It was frustrating; wasn’t easy to turn around, especially when you look at all the progress made ​​so far.”

Elisabeth Revol; Source

The 10 Day Summit Push
Elisabeth goes on to tell us about the progress that lead to summit push on 17th. “We left BC on Friday, January 9. Bags were heavy under the provisioning of 10 days to be spent at high altitude. The route was long. This year, it was the only possible route, others being partly bare ice and very dry.”

First night was spent in the middle of Diamir glacier. On day two, they climbed on scree along the right bank of the glacier for a long time to C2, under Ganalo Peak. Following day, they tackle huge crevasses towards C3, at the foot of the route taken by Messner in 2000. Due to strong wind, they didn’t go any further on fourth day.

On day-5, the climbers negotiated several seracs to reach C3 (around 6600mm). “Next day we continued our progression to 7000m. It was very cold. Tomek felt cold in the feet; I froze my nose tip. The sun came out late at around 11am. But we enjoyed a beautiful sunset.” A day later, they were bivouacking at 7200m.

On eighth day, they went up (hoping to make a summit push), but turned back from 7500m. As Tomek said in his audio message, they miscalculated the distance. Day nine was the summit push day.

Wind sweeps the summit of Nanga Parbat; Source

The Descent
From 7800m, the two climbers descended to bivouac at 7200m. However, they were out of gas and food by then. “To kill the hunger and thirst, we were discussing the project,” says Elisabeth.

“We begin our descent, next day. We knew, we had to rely on ourselves, as Daniele had sent us a clear and directive message upon our arrival at C4; asserting that since we had not taken the radio, he would not trigger emergency if we had a situation, rather than encouraging us on our progress. Long live the "friendship" in the mountains...”

The descent continued in good meteorological conditions as they reached 6500m.

Tomek Disappeared
“With a bang I see the feet of Tomek and his body tipping over: the snow bridge had ruptured. I scream "Tomek ...! ..." It was of no use, as he was already gone. I approached the edge of the crevasse. Blank ... the scene was horrible; I discovered a snow slope at 80°, and a black hole. My God! Tomek! I was still screaming his name, but there was no reply. Everything runs through my head: his children, his girlfriend Ana, my husband Jean-Christophe, and I alone on this hostile glacier ... Great moment of solitude...” Elisabeth goes on to describe the event of crevasse fall at around 6500m.

“And finally, I see a very small thing - my God, it's Tomek- "Tomek, how are you? Did you broke something? Can you come back? It is high." He replied, “I do not think I broke anything, but I might not climb back up.”

Elisabeth immediately went down to retrieve a rope, they had stored approximately 200m below. Upon her return, she called for Tomek but didn’t get any answer from crevasse. “Finally, from far away [I heard] "Eli ..." This wasn’t from the bottom of the crevasse, but on the left. After recovering from his emotions, he explained: he walked along the bottom of the crevasse on precarious bridges and found a possible exit.”

Tomek was given painkillers and the two climbers slowly descended to lower camps and eventually reached BC.

Tomek Mackiewicz; Source

The Departure
Elisabeth left BC on January 21st, to catch her flight from Islamabad on 23rd. “Very surprised at the negative version of Daniele; I can nevertheless reassure those around me that I had and that I will keep strong friendships.”

She believes that good weather window on Nanga Parbat is gone. “I left the base camp under a blue sky, which is quickly going to change. The sky may have saved us before. As if for a month the mountain had accepted us and spared, and now it was time to leave this place.”
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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Winter 2015 | Summit Push Details and Update on Other Climbers

It has been nearly a month since the start of winter climbing season and we have already witnessed one remarkable summit push on Nanga Parbat. While Elisabeth Revol has extended her stay at BC and may go for a second attempt, Tomek Mackiewicz will have to return home due to injuries from a crevasse fall. Russian team also seems ready for summit-bid. Daniele Nardi continues his work on Mummery Rib. Alex Txikon and the three Iranians will also be reaching Diamir BC, soon.

The Summit Push
We presented some information about the Tomek and Elisabeth's recent summit push in our previous posts. Tomek shared further details about the ascent in an audio message [Polish] from BC. He says that they made two attempts towards summit. On first day, they misjudged the distance and thought that summit is nearer than it actually was. They retreated to tent for food and hydration, and launched another summit-bid a day later. After leaving tent at 3 in the morning, they made it to the pass (ca 7800m) by 11am. From here on, route to the summit seemed negotiable but the conditions were terrible. It was windy, cloudy and started to snow. Tomek thinks even if they had managed to reach the summit, the descent in darkness would have been suicidal.

Blue line shows the route of Tomek/Elisabeth's ascent; Source

Retreating from 7800m, the duo spent an uncomfortable night in wet and frozen Camp 4. Following day, they continued the descent towards BC. Their plan was to rest and recover and launch another summit push in few days.

On the way down, approximately at the level of Ganalo Peak (6608m) summit, they passed through a snow bridge over a crevasse. The bridge couldn’t hold under Tomek’s weight. He fell around 40m. “[it was a] space adventure. I have pain around thigh muscle, most likely a broken rib as well, 6 frozen toes which I hope will not require amputation.”

They reached BC at around 2am. Fortunately, Tomek was able to descend from 6500m to BC, unaided. Next morning, however, the Polish climber says he couldn’t even move due to these injuries. He also tells that he has run out of money and will require financial support for return trip.

Meanwhile, Elisabeth Revol, who was expected to start return journey on January 20th, has delayed her departure. She discussed the possibility of a second summit attempt with Daniele Nardi. It seems that Daniele, Tomek and Elisabeth have discussed and resolved the misunderstanding that stirred up last week.

Daniele Nardi
Daniele Nardi went up from BC to C2 (5050m) on Sunday. He intended to go up and observe Mummery Spur closely, but was also concerned about safety of Tomek and Elisabeth. On Monday morning, BC team told him about the arrival of French-Polish duo.

"Before leaving, I contacted Base Camp to understand the situation of Elisabeth and Tomek. BC informed me that the two companions are safe. So, I decide to climb the spur with an open mind and a lighter spirit." By the evening, Daniele was at BC to meet Tomek and Elisabeth.

Russian Team
Nickolay Totmjanin, Valery Shamalo, Serguey Kondrashkin and Victor Koval have made significant progress on Schell route. Between January 14th and 20th, the Russians extended the route fixing from 6000m to 7150m. They have now reached the point, from where route traverses to Diamir side.

SMS from the team reads, "Reached 7150m, the place to move to Diamir Face. A huge mountain! Now we rest in BC. All's OK."

Variants of  Schell Route on Rupal side. Image from Polish Winter Nanga Parbat 2006-07 Team

Iranian Climbers and Alex Txikon
After resolving visa issue, Reza Bahadorani, Iraj Maani and Mahmood Hashemi are expected to arrive in Islamabad, tomorrow. Spanish climber Alex Txikon who is already in Pakistan, will be leaving for Chilas soon. He will be sharing permit and BC facilities with Iranian climbers. Alex’s climbing partners on the mountain will be Ali Sadpara and Muhammad Khan.

Alex Txikon arranging equipment in Islamabad. Source


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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Winter 2015 | Injuries after Crevasse Fall End Tomek Mackiewicz’ Fifth Attempt

Tomek Mackiewicz’ Fifth attempt on Nanga Parbat ends here, as he suffers a broken rib and fractured leg knee sprain after a snow bridge at around 6500m broke, causing the Polish climber to fall 50 meters into a crevasse. The accident happened when he was descending after summit push, together with Elisabeth Revol.

Elisa was first to go. She is very light and crossed the snow bridge without any problem. I made two steps and the snow beneath me broke. I fell into crevasse against my back. I did not have any control over it. I looked up and saw the sky view getting reduced in cosmic speed, messing up against the walls and somehow the flight ended after 50 meters, and I lived.” Tomek Mackiewicz told Off.sport.pl journalist Dominik Szczepański from Base Camp this afternoon. Elisabeth rescued him out of crevasse. “No way could I come out from there, alone.”

Tomek and Elisabeth near BC; Source

After spending ten days on the mountain, Tomek Mackiewicz and Elisabeth Revol returned to BC, this morning. It was a huge relief for fellow climbers, the BC team and climbing community who has been closely observing the team’s progress. The two climbers remained out of contact for three days due to battery issue with their satellite phone.

We set up camp (C4) at 7000m, because the conditions didn’t let us go above.” From C4, the two climbers pushed towards the summit and reached 7800m. From this point onwards, they would have followed the Hermann Buhl’s route to the summit. However, it was getting late and they decided to turn back. Although, they were almost 300 vertical meters below summit, total distance to be covered was more than 2 kilometers. “Had no chance to reach the top,” says the Polish climber.

It’s third instance of Tomek Mackiewicz reaching above 7000m on Nanga Parbat in winter. The only climber to have reached higher is Zbigniew Trzmiel, who turned back from 7850m in 1997. The route of Tomek and Elisabeth was previously climbed till 7500m by Reinhold Messner, Hubert Messner, Hanspeter Eisendle and Wolfgang Thomaseth.

It's not know whether Elisabeth shall continue the climb or will be returning home.

Nanga Parbat Diamir BC; Source

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Monday, January 19, 2015

(Updated) Winter 2015 | Tomek & Elisabeth Back in BC and the New Entrants

Lack of communication with Tomek Mackiewicz and Elisabeth Revol worries the climbing community, whereas Daniele Nardi and Russian Team continue their acclimatization. Finally, two more teams are expected to reach Nanga Parbat, soon.

Tomek and Elisabeth
Tomek and Elisabeth were in C4 at around 7000m, last week. In correspondence with their home team in Poland and Elisabeth’s husband in France, the climbers told that they will be descending to BC, soon. Jean Christophe Revol, Elisabeth’s husband wrote to Daniele Nardi on Saturday, “I got a message yesterday (Friday) afternoon…They should arrive in BC tomorrow, if they had begun the descent today….They have food and gas for at least 10 days.”

As leader of the expedition, Daniele Nardi hasn’t been pleased with Tomek and Elisabeth’s behavior. The two climbers went up without radio sets as Base Camp team proposed. They intended to avoid additional weight and carried only a satellite phone. The duo hasn't contacted BC or replied any messages since their departure. Daniele Nardi said that Tomek and Elisabeth aren’t part of his project anymore. Nonetheless, he said, he will be available for all kind of support the duo may need in case of any emergency.

Blue line shows the route of Tomek/Elisabeth's ascent; Source

On Saturday, Daniele Nardi returned to BC feeling concerned about safety of Tomek and Elisabeth. However communication with Jean Christophe Revol assured him that everything is fine and he may resume his climb.

We still await concrete information about Tomek Mackiewicz and Elisabeth’s Revol’s health, safety and their retreat to BC.

Update:
Tomek Mackiewicz and Elisabeth Revol reached Base Camp this morning, reports Daniele Nardi's home team. Here's the full dispatch.
"It is the news that Daniele and his staff were waiting for some days: Elisabeth and Tomek, this morning, arrived at the base camp.

The news came to us from the base camp of Nanga Parbat where they are now Roberto Delle Monache (climber) and Federico Santini (cameraman) while Daniele, at this time, is back from Mammery spur where is completing the acclimatization.

Elisabeth and Tomek have just arrived at the base camp. They’re fine. Tomek has a small problem in the leg because he fell into a crevasse. Nothing to worry about. They arrived at 7800 meters.

Daniel and his staff are happy for the good condition of the two companions."
If the climbers have reached 7800m, as reported, it is the second highest point ever reached in Nanga Parbat's winter climbing history.

Alex Txikon: The New Entrant
On Sunday, Spanish climber Alex Txikon left for Pakistan to climb Nanga Parbat. Alex was part of ill-fortuned K2 expedition, which was cancelled after China revoked their climbing permit right before team's departure. It will be Spaniard’s first winter attempt on Nanga Parbat. He was part of two winter Gasherbrum-I expeditions and climbed Laila Peak (Hushe Valley) in winter 2013.

Two local climbers Muhammad Ali Sadpara and Muhammad Khan (from Machulu village) will be Alex’s partners on Diamir side of the mountain. Route will be decided once they reach BC.

Alex Txikon before his departure to Pakistan; Source

Iranians’ Visa Issue Resolved
The Iranian team is ready to leave for Pakistan and quickly move to BC as their visa issue has been sorted out. They’re expected to reach the mountain by the end of this week.

Daniele and Russians Continue Acclimatization
Russian team went up on January 14th and perhaps are still working on Schell route.

On January 16th, Daniele Nardi and Roberto negotiated the glacier between normal route and Mummery Rib. They set up Camp-2, and returned to BC. Daniele wrote, “We intended to stay more days to go and see up, close the spur, and maybe fix a tent at its base. However we decided to go down. Our decision was dictated not only by the satisfaction of the work done on the glacier, which this year is really hard to cross, but also and above all for the concern for our two expeditions friend Elisabeth and Tomek far from the base camp from ten days and with which we have no direct communication.

After communication with Jean Revol, the Italian climber went up again on Sunday.

Daniele Nardi descending towards BC; Source
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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Winter 2015 | Tomek and Elisabeth at 7000m, Going Up Slowly

Winter teams are making significant progress on Nanga Parbat. Tomek and Elisabeth have reached around 7000m on Messner-Hanspeter Line. Russian team has fixed difficult sections of route to C2 on Schell Route. Daniele Nardi continues his work on Mummery Rib.

Tomek/Elisabeth in C4
Tomek Mackiewicz and Elisabeth Revol have made it to 7000m on Diamir side. It is their third foray up the Messner-Hanspeter 2000 route. Previously, they had acclimatized and fixed the route below 6000m.

After second rotation, the two climbers rested in BC for a couple of days. The current attempt started from BC on January 9th, whereas they made it to C2 on 10th. Tomek was hoping for a summit push chance. He told his home team from C2, “Tomorrow, [we will] traverse glacier to the right and sticks to the route, straight up. I hope that in four days, if the weather holds, we [will] join the Herman Buhl’s path.

A view from Tomek/Elisabeth's camp on Nanga Parbat; Source

However, fierce wind halted the team’s progress and by January 12th, they were still in C2. Next day, winds receded, allowing the climbers to reach C3 (6600m). “We are in C3. 6600m. Formations, which we climbed, are the most beautiful part of climbing in my life. Tomorrow, 7200 m. Then there is a window for the attack. This line is beautiful, but it is hardcore. Popped, blowing, but we are still moving. E [Elisabeth] is hard. Cold as hell." Tomek’s told his home team on 13th.

Yesterday (January 14th) was another good day, as Tomek and Elisabeth set up C4. “We are in C4 (around 7000m). Tomorrow [we will go] a little above, slowly due to lack of air. The views are amazing.” It’s not confirmed, as of now, whether they will be going for the summit from here or will retreat to BC for rest and recovery.

Tomek, Ali and Elisabeth; Source

Russians Going Up
Between January 8th and 11th, the four men Russian team, extended the route fixation to 6000m. A message from team on January 11th reads, “We made deposit at 6000, fixed ropes up to the ridge, but we were swept by the wind from the ridge, so we are in BC again.” Yesterday (on Jan 14th), the team left BC again to resume route fixing.

Schell route sketched by Polish Winter Nanga Parbat 2006-07 Team, with help from Hans Schell.
Daniele Nardi on Mummery Spur
After first trip towards Mummery Rib on Jan 12th, Daniele Nardi said, "I just returned from 5100m where I fixed rope on the ice. Now I am at the BC. In coming days, I will climb to fix another rope that will take us to the base of Mummery Spur." Daniele and Roberto were scheduled to leave BC yesterday.

Source

Visa Issues with Iranian Climbers
As per information from Asghar Ali Porik of Jasmine Tours Pakistan, the arrival of Iranian climbers is delayed due to visa issues. They are working to sort out the matter.
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