Winter 2013 | Broad Peak SUMMITED

Polish team has successfully achieved the first winter ascent of Broad Peak. It’s the second success of Polish Winter Himalayan Climbing 2010-2015 project in Karakoram. The project, initiated by Artur Hajzer (who himself attempted Broad Peak twice in winter), focuses on completion of winter game started by Ice Warriors in 1980s. Current Polish expedition was the seventh attempt to climb Broad Peak in winter. Amongst the previous tries, most successful one was a great climb by Maciej Berberka who managed to reach Rocky Foresummit (8030m) in 1988. Fast forward exactly twenty five years and Maciej today stood atop true summit along with Adam Bielecki, Tomasz Kowalski and Arthur Malek.
Tomasz during previous Summit Push (Photo M. Berbeka/Source)

Weather window that was initially supposed to appear around 4th March, arrived a little late and created a melodramatic situation. Prediction of strong winds on 4th morning and low winds along with clear skies on 5th and 6th March made the decision of when to push for summit complicated. First option of summit push on 5th meant fighting winds on 4th at an altitude beyond 6500m and wasting a lot of energy before summit push. While the option of summit push on 6th wouldn't have left any time for improvisation. Any unforeseen delay would have resulted in sure defeat.

The prodigious leader, Krzysztof Wielicki made the wise decision of departure from BC on 3rd March; spending a night each in C2 & C4 and pushing for the summit on 5th. Plan worked well and team started the summit push at 5:15AM on 5th March in extremely cold but favorable meteorological conditions. Wind was calm and skies were clear. They surpassed the huge crevasse at 7820m (which halted the previous summit push) by 11AM and reached the 7900m ridge to summit at 1230PM. Summit ridge that was expected to take 1.5 - 2hrs presented more difficulties than anticipated and consumed 5hours. All four climbers reached summit at 6PM, exactly at sunset. They need to descend to C4 tonight (in darkness) and would come down to BC tomorrow. Forecast suggest that weather would remain decent for tomorrow too.

(Edit: 06-March-2013/1400Hrs PST: Situation seems serious on the mountain. Reaching Summit took more than 12hrs and presented a lot of difficulty. Tired and exhausted, the team of Poles split into two. Adam and Artur reached C4 after mid-night, while Tomasz and Maciej bivouacked at 7900m. Now it's reported that Tomasz and Maciej are facing difficulty in coming down. Meanwhile Shaheen and Amin had left BC to go up and assist in descent. Karim was already in C2. Hope that they all descend safely. Follow regular updates on Twitter.)

Broad Peak Summit Push route (Image Source)

This could possibly be the end of winter climbing season 2013. No update has been received about the search operation on Nanga Parbat where the unfortunate solo climber Joel Wischnewski went missing on 7th February. A helicopter search was planned past weekend but chances of success were quite grim. While the Broad Peak summit might appear like a happy ending to winter 2013, the unfortunate disappearance of Joel remains a sad incident and shadows the joy of Broad Peak summit.
Broad Peak (Photo: Adam Bielecki Source)
Broad Peak is the 12th 8000er that has been summited in winter. As many people would have had expected, only Nanga Parbat and K2 stand unclimbed in winter now. Polish climbers have bagged 10 first winter ascents so far.

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