Summer 2016 Heads Up: Karakoram and Western Himalaya Climbing Season Kicks off

Return of summer climbers to Nanga Parbat, 60% of eight-thousander climbing permits for K2 and just a handful of teams on Gasherbrum peaks; welcome to Summer 2016 climbing season in Karakoram and Western Himalayas.

“K2: The New Everest” Debate
Trend of commercial expeditions on K2 with big Sherpa teams has been on the rise since past few years and is, now, more obvious than ever before. While commercialization of Everest meant financial prosperity for Sherpa community, so much so that Nepalese operators are now a serious challenge for western outfitters. Situation is, however, quite bleak for already dwindling count of Pakistani HAPs.

More than 100 climbers aim to climb K2 this season and majority of them belong to commercial teams like Seven Summit Treks, Kobler-Partner, and Madison Mountaineering. Sherpa are expected to lead rope-fixing process and haul gear to upper camps. There are some independent teams on the mountain but they will have to work in coordination with aforementioned expeditions.

Is K2 new Everest?” the question will be part of mountaineering discussions for next few months. We briefly touched a few aspects of this in post Summer 2014 article here.

Nanga Parbat
After Diamir BC massacre in 2013, Pakistani government didn’t issue climbing permits for Nanga Parbat in summer 2014 and 2015. However, a few teams are ready to return to the mountain and at least one of them will be on Diamir side.

A four member team of Helias Millerious, Ferran Latorre, Yannick Graziani and Tom Seidensticker will try to complete the Messner-Messner- Eisendle-Tomaseth route on North Face of mountain, first attempted in 2000. A Korean team will also be on the mountain. Team members includes Migon Kim who has climbed thirteen eight-thousanders so far and only Nanga Parbat is missing from 14x8000ers. Another Spanish duo will attempt Kinshofer route.

There will be six small teams, with around three dozen climbers, on Gasherbrum II. Many of them also have received permits to climb Gasherbrum I. A Polish team also aims to traverse GII-GI via connecting Col.

Czech climber Marek Holecek is expected to return for his fourth try on GI SW Face. He has previously attempted the unfinished line in 2009, 2013 (lost his partner Zdenek Hruby that year) and 2015.

Broad Peak
Traditionally, some K2 climbers obtain Broad Peak permits as well and this year is no exception. Kobler Partner and Seven Summit Treks teams have K2 and Broad Peak permits.

Spaniard Oscar Cadiach will be on Broad Peak for his 14th eight-thousander. Chris Burke will be back for another attempt. Last but not the least, Ales Cesen is expected to acclimatize on Broad Peak before heading to the notoriously difficult Gasherbrum IV.

Summit day on K2 in 2014; Photo: Samuli Mansikka

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