“I’ve got the urge to summit an eight-thousander,” says Alex Txikon. “The last one was the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat in 2016 and I think it’s about time to step on a summit of an eight-thousander.” The 39-year-old Spaniard will fly to Nepal tomorrow Friday to climb Mount Everest. He plans to arrive at base camp on 2 May. He then gives himself three weeks to reach the highest peak on earth at 8849 meters – without bottled oxygen, via the normal route. He plans to return to Spain on 25 May.
Recently, Txikon had been en route primarily in the winter seasons. A month and a half ago, he and the Italian Simone Moro failed in their attempt to climb the eight-thousander Manaslu in western Nepal. Previously, he had tried three times (in 2017, 2018 and 2020) in vain to reach the summit of Everest in winter without breathing mask. Txikon had also failed on K2 (2019).
This time, Txikon will be accompanied to Mount Everest only by a journalist and a photographer. It is a “rather modest project”, says Alex, something like a “personal bet”. He will try to keep cool head at all times, he says. This will also be necessary if he, climbing without bottled oxygen, has to join a queue of climbers who are ascending with breathing masks. As of yesterday, Nepal’s Ministry of Tourism had issued 377 Everest permits, just four fewer than in the record-breaking year of 2019. He is aware that he will encounter numerous other climbers on Everest, Txikon says. Therefore, he wants to “assess the conditions day by day”.
Go to the end of the line
The Ministry of Tourism announced yesterday that it would limit the number of climbers on a summit day to a maximum of 170. Decisive for the right to start the summit attempt would be the order in which the teams had received their permits, it said. Should the ministry really enforce this absurd regulation, Txikon would have to stand in line far behind.