Annapurna winter expedition: rotation or summit attempt by Alex Txikon and Co.

Annapurna massif (Annapurna I on the left)
Annapurna massif (Annapurna I on the left)

The Spaniard Alex Txikon and his team set off from the base camp of Annapurna I this morning Nepalese local time. In strong winds, they reached Camp 1 at an altitude of around 5,000 meters. According to Txikon’s media team, they had to pause for an hour on the way due to a strong avalanche.

This is the climbers’ third so-called rotation on the eight-thousander in western Nepal. The main aim is to acclimatize further. On the last round a week ago, the team brought equipment up to Camp 3 at around 6,700 meters. Due to stormy gusts in the summit area, the climbers did not continue their ascent but returned to base camp.

Even before the new ascent, the team kept the possibility of a summit attempt open. “We’ll see the weather forecast,” said Italian Mattia Conte in a video posted on Instagram yesterday. “Slowly, slowly, without stress!” The winter weather is expected to be relatively calm over the next few days. After that, it should snow again.

Txikon, Conte and Fiamoncini climb without breathing masks

Conte has summited two eight-thousanders in Pakistan so far: Gasherbrum II in 2019 and Broad Peak in 2022. In 2018, he probably did not reach the “True Summit” on Manaslu, the highest point at the end of the summit ridge, but an elevation in front of it. Mattia – like expedition leader Alex Txikon – does not use bottled oxygen on his ascents.

This also applies to Moeses Fiamoncini, who only joined the Annapurna team last week. The Brazilian has seven eight-thousander ascents to his name so far. The western climbers will be supported by a strong five-man Sherpa team from Nepal’s largest expedition operator Seven Summit Treks.

In winter 2023, Alex Txikon – one of the first winter ascenders of Nanga Parbat in 2016 – summited Manaslu. While the Spaniard had climbed without a breathing mask, the six Sherpas who had supported him to the summit had used bottled oxygen. This led to a debate about style.

Urubko in Pakistan

Gasherbrum I, also known as Hidden Peak
Gasherbrum I, also known as Hidden Peak

Meanwhile, Denis Urubko has arrived in Pakistan. As reported, he has set himself the goal of climbing the eight-thousander Gasherbrum I this winter. Urubko, who was born in the Russian North Caucasus, wants to reach the summit at 8,080 meters before the end of February, i.e. in the meteorological winter. The only winter ascent of Gasherbrum I to date was achieved by the two Poles Adam Bielecki and Janusz Golab on 9 March 2012 – in the calendar winter.

According to the Polish mountaineering portal wspinanie.pl, Denis wants to be accompanied by the Pakistani mountaineer Hassan Shigri on the ascent through the glacier labyrinth in the lower part of the mountain and then continue alone from an altitude of around 6,500 meters. Urubko has already stood on eight-thousander peaks 27 times, always without bottled oxygen. He has achieved two first winter ascents of eight-thousanders: the 8,485-meter-high Makalu (in 2009 with the Italian Simone Moro) and the 8,034-meter-high Gasherbrum II (2011 with Moro and the American Cory Richards).

Update 11 January: Txikon’s team has returned to base camp. According to their own reports, the climbers reached Camp 3 at 6,400 meters in strong winds today. Most of the material deposited there a week ago, including three tents, pegs, ice screws and two kilometers of rope, had disappeared. “What happened is that the area where the deposit was located – a complex terrain, a set of seracs that could have resembled an ice waterfall – gave way, forming a large crack and everything was lost,” the team posted on Instagram.

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