Saturday, February 28, 2015

Winter 2015 | Nanga Parbat Climbers Return to BC, Bad Weather Continues on Manaslu

Bad conditions forced the Nanga Parbat Kinshofer route climbers to turn back on day two of first summit push. As expected, the recent snowstorm had greatly changed the route conditions. Everyone is back at Base Camp, now. While Alex Txikon and Daniele Nardi will be waiting for another summit window, it appears that the Iranian team has decided to abandon the mountain.

On Manaslu, Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger are still stuck inside BC due to bad weather.

Summit Push-1 Unsuccessful
The climbers resumed the ascent from C1 at 8am, this morning. They intended to make it C2, but were forced to turn back from 5300m. “The same corridor below Kinshofer wall that we before fixed and climbed completely icy, was covered by heavy snowy today, up to our waists,” Alex Txikon told Base Camp team this morning. “Yesterday, on the way, we saw more than one (avalanches here), and also signals of previous snow falings; neither today, terrain was not safe at all”.

Hence the climbers decided to turn back and wait for another summit window. They arrived back at BC, at around mid-day. Daniele Nardi seems satisfied with the efforts so far, “I really enjoyed it. It was a way to move a bit the legs after a long wait and see the conditions of the mountain.”

Working to retrieve the tents; Source

End of Iranian Expedition
After reaching BC, the Iranian climbers decided to end their winter attempt. Igone Mariezkurrena quoted the Iranians from Diamir BC, “We think the mountain is covered by too heavy snow, it is dangerous, and besides, information coming from our country tells weather is not going to change next days. That’s why we think is not possible to make it this time.”

Alex Txikon and Daniele Nardi will probably make another summit push, if weather permits.

The Iranian climbers; Source

Manaslu
Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger have been stuck inside BC since Thursday due to bad weather and heavy snow. “Today as well, shoveling shoveling shoveling!” Tamara commented on Facebook yesterday.

Bad weather at Manaslu BC; Source
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Winter 2015 | Nanga Parbat Summit Push Begins

Around Tuesday/Wednesday next week, there appears to be a small summit window on Nanga Parbat. Wind speed is predicted to remain around 20-30 km/hr. However, Forecast shows snowy conditions, lack of visibility and intense cold. Climbers will also be tested by changed route conditions after snowstorm, excessive snow dumped at camp-sites, reopening the tracks and digging up previously established camps.

Reopening the Tracks
The Kinshofer route climbers have been waiting for summit window for past two weeks. Their strength and patience was tested by continuous snow and extreme cold. “Conditions have become really hard after this three days of heavy snow (layer is now about five feet),” Igone Mariezkurrena wrote from Diamir BC, “we needed to take it out with shovels just for getting out of the tents.”

On February 26th, Alex Txikon, Muhammad Khan, Iraj Maani and Ali Sadpara went up from BC to partially refresh the route towards C1. They opened the track till moraine. They were also encouraged to witness that snow accumulated in upper parts of route was lesser than Base Camp.

Nanga Parbat Base Camp under snow; Source

C1 Again
After working for eight hours on the route and three hours digging up the tents, climbers are spending the night in C1. They left BC at 6am and reached the camp at 2pm. “In some parts, it was up to our waists,” Alex Txikon told BC about snow conditions.

Apart from excavating two previously installed tents, Muhammad Khan retrieved a third one from Daniele Nardi’s previous C1 (which he used for his attempt on Mummery Rib).

Daniele Nardi’s team wrote, “The situation found in Camp 1, however, was better than what was expected. They will spend the night there and tomorrow morning will start to Camp 2. The weather on Nanga Parbat is cloudy.”

Summit Push begins; Source

The Way Forward
All climbers - Alex Txikon, Ali Sadpara, Muhamamd Khan, Daniele Nardi, Reza Bahadorani, Iraj Maani and Mahmood Hashemi - were expected to leave Base Camp together. They may want to proceed jointly towards the summit. However, due to different acclimatization levels and provisioning of high camps, they may eventually split into subgroups.

In a previous post, Alex Txikon wrote that Muhamamd Khan will perhaps accompany them till C3. He hasn’t been above C2 yet and lacks the acclimatization for summit-bid. Alex Txikon, Ali Sadpara, and Daniele Nardi have spent a night at 6700m and will probably form the first summit push group. Reza Bahadorani, Iraj Maani and Mahmood Hashemi are also expected to go for the summit.

However, the formation of summit party will be decided by conditions on the mountain and health of climbers. “So, the idea is to advance day by day, from one camp to another one,” summarizes the strategy of the team.

Opening trail to C1; Source

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Winter 2015 | Ali Sadpara's Must-read Interview, Nanga Parbat High Altitude Police and Bad Weather Reaches Manaslu

Success of several Himalayan expeditions greatly depends upon efforts of high altitude porters. However, they’re also the least vocal ones and seldom has their opinion reached the masses.

Ali Sadpara has been a vital part of multiple important expeditions. He is termed as “currently the best Pakistani climber” and “the real leader of current winter Nanga Parbat expedition” by Alex Txikon. Alex’s BC companion Igone Mariezkurrena interviewed Ali Sadpara, which is published on Spanish climber’s website. Ali’s views about mountains and mountaineering in Pakistan are raw, candid and a true depiction of what lays ahead for Pakistani HAPs.

It’s a must read: Ali ‘Sadpara’: “My work is always invisible”

Ali Sadpara; Source

No Climbing on Nanga Parbat
Nanga Parbat is yet again testing the patience level of winter climbers. No summit window is in foresight as Alex Txikon communicated this afternoon, “meteorological forecast is changing everyday here, so still it’s not possible to talk about summit day, but looking forward to leave this BC as soon as possible.”

The High Altitude Police Reaches Diamir BC
Iranian climbers are reporting that a group of ‘high altitude’ police officers have reached the BC. “.. [they] will stay there till the end of the expedition with their high level of patience and responsibility. They are very kind and friendly officers”

The security officers also conveyed a message from Government, “The government of Pakistan have fully established safety in the base camp of Nanga Parbat and other mountains of the region and according to this matter had sent 10 armed officers to this camp but due to condition and lack of enough tent, 4 officers had to go to villages in Buner Das region and they will be exchanged each week. However the local people of Diamir village will also prevent strangers to enter the Diamir valley.”

High Altitude Police has reached Nanga Parbat BC; Source

Back to C1 on Manaslu
Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger are making methodological progress on Manaslu. Yesterday, they went up from C1 and reconnaissance the route through crevasses to C2. However, Simone Moro decided to turn back from 5900m as conditions were windy and cold.

Tamara updated her blog from BC last night, “If it were up to me, today I would immediately go up to camp 2 and would stay there for the night. All the things which are normal in the regular season, here they must be explored and experienced first.”

She continued, “I have to admit that I still have to learn to be patient, because as soon as the wind decreased today, I regretted the decision that we climbed down again today. In my mind I would see myself already on 7000m tomorrow and with the next window of good weather on the summit (if we are granted to do so).

But thanks to Simone, who indeed has enough experience, I can restrain somehow my ideas, and just try to live on one of my resolutions – ENJOY the MOMENT.”

The two climbers made another carry to C1 today and retreated to BC. Weather predicted to deteriorate from tomorrow.

Italians on Manaslu; Source
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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Winter 2015 | No Break in Nanga Parbat Bad Weather, C1 Ready on Manaslu

Bad weather on Nanga Parbat continues. The climbers have decided to spend another day at BC. Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger have initiated the acclimatization and route opening to higher camps on Manaslu. They are spending this night in C1 at 5700m.

Nanga Parbat
Last week, Alex Txikon talked about summit attempt possibility starting from Monday. However, the conditions were too bad to go up. “One more day in BC. Snowy and foggy, looks quite terrifying today,” the Spanish climber posted on Facebook a while ago.

Huge avalanche approaches the Diamir Base Camp. Source

Mountain-forecast predicts that adverse weather conditions may prolong. We will have to wait and see how climbers proceed from here on. Details coming out of Nanga Parbat BC suggest that everyone is fresh, motivated and focused for the summit push.

Snow at Nanga Parbat BC, tonight. Source

Manaslu
Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger are enjoying good weather on Manaslu that is expected to last till Wednesday. After two days of work, they established C1 at 5700m today. Their plan is to explore the route through crevasses towards C2, tomorrow. After spending another night on the mountain, they will retreat to BC before Thursday.

The Italian climbers reached BC (4750m) a week ago. Simone had planned of getting equipment transported from Samagaon to BC using local porters. However, porters failed to reach BC due to excessive snow. So, helicopter was used for complete expedition gear delivery.

Helicopter arrives at Manaslu BC to deliver final consignment of expedition gear. Simone's plan of getting equipment transferred using local porters failed due to excessive snow. Source

Final consignment of team’s equipment arrived on Friday. Following day, they went up to scrutinize the route towards C1. On Sunday, they made first load-carry to an intermediate camp at 5220m and returned to BC.

This morning, they resumed the ascent and reached 5700m. They set up C1 and built a snow wall around the tents to get protection from winds. “It's too good to be here, without a soul around. We alone on this great mountain. No problem with Simone, we work together really well and if the weather helps, we hope to go higher and higher,” Tamara wrote today.

Simone and Tamara have started the Manaslu climb. In past two days, they completed tracks opening from BC (4750m) to C1 (5700m). They are spending the night in C1. Source
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Friday, February 20, 2015

Winter 2015 | Nanga Parbat Summit-bid Strategy and ‘Bad Omens’ on Manaslu

The waiting continues for Nanga Parbat climbers. Nonetheless, the team is in positive mood and getting ready for summit-bid once weather window arrives. Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger are concluding Base Camp arrangements and will kick off the climb in next couple of days.

Wait Continues at Nanga Parbat BC
Altitude reached by Kinshofer route climbers, 6700m, is lesser than that attained by Tomek & Elisabeth or the Russian team. But they have a real chance to make it to the summit, if weather holds for a few days.

Snow at Nanga Parbat BC; Source

In an interview with barrabes.com, Alex Txikon details the hard work done on Kinshofer route and their chances of success on the mountain. When asked about the level of climbing done so far, Spanish climber remarked, “Buff .... very very hard. I knew it would be, but not so much. Now I understand why so many expeditions have failed to overcome the technical sections and reach as high as us.” “Mixed rock, and a lot of hard ice. As it stands now, opening these 2500m are comparable in difficulty to K2 that too in poor condition, and with the addition of winter.”

However on a positive side, Alex explains that they have overcome the challenging sections of route. Weather permitting; the ascent from this point onward should be relatively easier. “We've fixed 2550m rope. This allows us to go back up now, but most importantly lets us descend safely. There may be few less complex stretches to camp 4. We estimate that perhaps we should have 50m more rope, especially to ensure the safe descent, and then, if time permits, we are in real conditions of an attack on summit.” “From C4, we have the summit in our reach; there is 12 hours of easy terrain, with axe in one hand and pole in the other; always considerate about the difficulty of winter, of course.”

Source

Talking about chances of success, Spanish climber doesn’t underestimate the winter Nanga Parbat. “It's hard to say. The technical and committing hard work is done. I'd say we have 25 percent chances. But you never know ... the Karakorum winter is Karakoram winter [sic], and technical complexity is only one part of the game.”

Alex Txikon states that a weather window is expected to arrive by next Wednesday. The team will be leaving BC on Monday to reach C3 by Wednesday, and have two days for summit push. All climbers (Alex, Daniele, Pakistanis and Iranian) will be going up together. Alex goes on to explain that there is still one month of winter left and they’re in no hurry. They move forward only if conditions allow, without taking too much risk.

Nanga Parbat climbers at BC; Source

Bad Omens on Manaslu?
Today is Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger’s fourth day at BC. Apart from heavy snow on second day, they have sunny weather now. After getting final batch of equipment shipped to Base Camp today, the climbers are hoping to proceed towards C1 in coming days. Weather is predicted to remain stable till Wednesday.

Manaslu; Source

As previously reported, there is a lot of snow on Manaslu this year. Local community thinks that it hasn’t snowed this much since past two decades. Tamara Lunger also blogged about another incident, “When Kusang and Mambhadur joined us yesterday, after climbing up in the snowstorm, they told us, that the Lama of Samagaon said, that this year Punge (local name of Manaslu) seemed to be not so good minded, because just few days before the monastery had burned down completely.

It was like a knife stab in my heart. I looked over to Simone and said: “It was better not to know this!” Immediately I took my wooden jesus on my neckless in my hands and spoke to him! Because I know, once I lose my positive thoughts, I have no chance to do this anymore.

Luckily the sun came out this morning and gave me a positive and very energetic kiss.”

Tamara at Manaslu BC; Source
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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Winter 2015 | Italians at Manaslu BC, Nanga Parbat Action Freezes

Bad weather halts climbing activities on Nanga Parbat. Teams are waiting for improvement in conditions to restart the ascent. At Manaslu BC, Tamara Lunger and Simone Moro were welcomed by 2 meters of accumulated snow. Finally, more climbers are arriving in Nepal for early-Spring expeditions.

Italians at Manaslu BC
Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger flew to Manaslu Base Camp yesterday, where whole landscape is covered by deep snow. “And there is really two meters of snow,” the team said; only to confirm the conditions previously reported by their porters.

Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger setting up Base Camp; Source

The team had hoped that porters would facilitate transportation of equipment from Samagaon (the last inhibited village) to Manaslu BC. But excessive snow didn't let the porters go up. Hence, helicopters had to be used for shuttling the complete equipment.

Simone Moro was planning to take a heli-tour around the mountain to observe the conditions. However, after additional trips to Samagaon, there wasn’t enough fuel for a reconnaissance flight.

It is Tamara Lunger's first expedition to Himalayas in winter. She expressed her feelings on Facebook, “[w]hen we arrived and I saw the beauty of this mountain, I felt not that "in love" like on K2, but I felt that this soul is also really friendly to us. I think we had constant -20 degrees today, no clouds on the mountain and I wore only a long-sleeve t-shirt and a cap... nobody will believe it! I gave a strong hug to Simone and said: "Simo, I think we will have a real chance!” That’s all for now, after this hard shoveling day I want to enjoy the beauty around me.”

Here is a video of white-out conditions at Manaslu BC.

Tamara and Simone inside their tent at BC; Source

Nanga Parbat Action Freezes
Nanga Parbat climbers are fairly pleased with the progress so far and now await a good weather window for summit attempt. “Arguably much of the work (is done) and most technical (sections) are ready; not surprisingly, it is the highest point ever reached on Kinshofer route in the winter Nanga, which gives us great satisfaction,” Alex Txikon wrote on his blog. Mountain-forecast predicts several days of excessive snow and fierce winds on the mountain.

Illustration by Alex Txikon showing progress on the mountain so far. Source

Three Nanga Parbat teams have joined hands to climb Kinshofer route, this season. The climbers include Alex Txikon and his Pakistani partners (Ali Sadpara, Muhammad Khan), Daniele Nardi and Iranian Trio (Reza Bahadorani, Iraj Maani and Mahmood Hashemi).

Spring Season: Early Arrivals
There is still more than a month of winter left. Spring, the busiest mountaineering season in Himalayas, usually starts at the end of March. However, Annapurna climbers will be arriving at BC much earlier, this year. They would want to benefit from stable conditions before excessive snow gets dumped in April.

76 year old Spanish climber Carlos Soria left for Nepal on Feb 14th. He will be acclimatizing in Khumbu Valley for a couple of weeks before reaching Annapurna BC at the start of March. Carlos is also ambitious to attempt Dhaulagiri later in the season. The Spaniard has so far climbed 11 eight-thousanders; Kangchenjunga being the last one in May 2014. Apart from Annapurna and Dhaulagiri, another 8000er Shishapangma is missing from his 14x8000ers list.

Finnish Samuli Mansikka leaves for Nepal on Feb 27th. He will be joining the expedition coordinated by Mingma G. Sherpa’s team. Samuli climbed Kangchenjunga and K2 last year. If successful, Annapurna will be his 10th eight-thousander.

Carlos Soria; Source
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Monday, February 16, 2015

Winter 2015 | Snowstorm hits Nanga Parbat, Simone and Tamara are on the way to Manaslu

Strong winds and heavy snow have hit Nanga Parbat as all climbers are stuck in BC. Last week Alex Txikon, Daniele Nardi and Ali Sadpara were successful in setting up C3 at 6700m. Iranian climbers spent a night in C2 (ca 6000m) and deposited further gear just below the camp. It appears that the teams are ready for a summit push once weather window arrives. Elsewhere, Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger have started the journey for Manaslu expedition.

C3 on Kinshofer Route
Alex Txikon Daniele Nardi and Pakistani fellows resumed the ascent from C2 (ca 6000m) on Wednesday (Feb 11th) morning. By 1530hrs, after 7 hours of climbing in freezing conditions, they were at 6500m. Approximately 500m of rope was fixed through mixed terrain at the beginning and hard ice afterwards.

At around 6500m, they still had a few hours of daylight. However, the climbers felt tired and decided to turn back. They spent a second night in C2.

On Thursday, Alex Txikon, Ali Sadpara and Daniele Nardi were successful in setting up C3 at 6700m. The three climbers spent one night there. Although, weather was predicted to remain stable for two more days, they decided to retreat to BC following day.

“Accumulated fatigue after five days of uninterrupted activity at altitude and limited acclimatization (not in case of Italian who spent some time ascending and descending on the walls and glaciers of Nanga Parbat, but for Txikon and Sadpara) made the moderately strong winds up there today, prove too much,” Wrote Alex Txikon’s home team.

Nanga Parbat Diamir Face; Source

Iranian Team
Iranian climbers went down to BC on Feb 11th. However, since then they have carried out multiple rotations to C2. The camp is now fully equipped for further activity on the mountain.

Iranian home team reported yesterday, “they had two series of climbs up to this camp (C2) in previous days which first was spending a night on Friday and the second was today (Sunday). They started to climb early morning at 4 am and deposit 100 meters below camp 2, under the Kinshofer's wall.

They will face one week of bad weather condition and afterwards they will try to go as high as possible. They are back in BC now.”

"We have not encountered in my life with such a tiresome obstacle!" commented the Iranian Team about Kinshofer Wall. Image Source

Image Source

Towards Manaslu
Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger have started the journey towards Manaslu. They arrived in Kathmandu yesterday and are busy in completing official routines and rearranging the gear. Their plan is to fly towards Base Camp via helicopter tomorrow. The team will be assisted by a cook and his subordinate at Base Camp.

Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger checking their gear for Manaslu Expedition. They have complicated the bureaucratic requirements for the expedition and have received the  climbing permit. Image Source
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