Winter 2013 | Action All Around

With weather improvement the intriguing action returned to Karakoram and Himalayan mountains. Apparently a summit push is in progress on Nanga Parbat, while other teams are also positive about reaching the top. Broad Peak team is assessing damages done by last week's fierce winds. Laila Peak expedition too aims summit this weekend.

Broad Peak
Only until a couple of days ago, Polish winter team was somewhat doubtful about weather window around 7-8th Feb, but it’s proved again that climate changes in Karakoram are too rapid. Signs of improvement in weather appeared on 6th February and today's weather reports showed summit winds as low as 10kph. An experienced leader like Krzysztof Wielicki would never let such opportunities go away. Believing in weather forecast, he sent Artur Malek, Tomasz Kowalski and Amin Ullah Baig to C2 on 6th. Plan was to establish C3 on 7th. But a big surprise was waiting for them; C2 was flattened! Tent along with complete gear that was placed inside, was missing. (Broad Peak has a history of thwarting camps). Probably the ropes holding the tent were defeated by fierce winds approaching 100kph on 4th and 5th.
It was a major setback, as three climbers were without a tent. They had no other choice but to retreat. Amin returned to BC while Artur and Tomasz spent the night in C1. Today (on 7th) Maciej Berbeka, Adam Bielecki and Shaheen Baig went up with necessary equipment and joined Artur and Tomasz in re-establishing C2. Team will go higher tomorrow, hoping that gear and ropes deposited at 6550m are not thwarted by wind. They would want to establish C3 at 7000m and also place necessary hardware in camp.
Winds are expected to pace up again after 8th January and team might return to BC.

Nanga Parbat
C1 snow cave; Image Source
Members of Justice for All Team were separated during bad weather, last week. Marek Klonowski had to retreat from C2 to BC while Tomek Mackiewicz stayed on the mountain. Tomek faced the extreme weather in C3 at 6600m. Yesterday morning, after facing hurricane winds for four days, he left the snow cave in milder wind and under clear sky. At that moment it wasn't clear whether he was going up or coming down. But soon it became clear that he was climbing upwards. Last night, he bivouacked at 7147m above Mazeno Col. From this point, the Schell's route follows the the ridge between Diamir and Rupal face till summit. Today, Tomek left the bivouac at around 9am PST and started the climb towards summit.
It's interesting to note that none of 13 winter attempts had been successful in attaining the altitude of 7000m except 1996-97 Polish expedition (who made it to 7850m). While the chances of Tomek's success are unknown as of now but it can be safely said that he is making one of the bravest winter attempts on Nanga Parbat. Weather is supposed to remain partially fine tomorrow with summit winds approaching 50kph later in the day. In an earlier text message to home team, Tomek has said that he would be descending on 8th.

Tomek seems to be following the red line. It's a variant of Schell's route followed by Dutch expedition in 1981 | Photo by Doug Chabot [Image source]

Joel Wischnewski, who moved upward from 4300m yesterday, also seems busy in climb. He had to select amongst available route options: Messner Brothers' direct route of 1970 (S-SE Spur), House-Anderson route of 2005 (Central Pillar) and Polish-Maxican route of 1985 expedition (S-E Pillar). Joel had earlier reported that central pillar (House-Anderson route) is too risky to be attempted in winter, while for Messners' route he has to cross the dangerous glacier. Hence Joel selected the South-East Pillar - approximately the same line as first climbed by Polish-Maxican expedition in 1982. Depending upon weather, Joel too would be descending to C2_4300m later in the day tomorrow.

US-Hungarian team is also back to Nanga Parbat but without Zoltan Robert Acs, as expected. Zoltan was eventually driven back to Islamabad on 4th Feb. Ian and David's stay in Chilas wasn't as comfortable as they have expected it to be. They had stomach problems, electricity issues and scarcity of cash. Nonetheless they started the return journey yesterday, reaching Sher village late in the evening. They must have reached BC by now.

Elisabeth Revol and Daniel Nardi are hoping that weather shall remain better till 13th Feb. Yesterday, they had to delay the climbing plan for a day because of fresh snow on the glacier. Today, they might have started the climb, hoping to reach summit in alpine style.

Laila Peak
Thanks to bad weather, Spanish Laila Peak Expedition had several quiet days at BC. But they have resumed the climb. Starting from BC, Alex Txikon reached C1 at 5200m this evening, where temperature is expected to remain around -25ºC. Team's plan is to establish C2, haul the mandatory gear and be ready for a summit push over the weekend. Weather forecast for Laila Peak can be seen here.

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