Eight-thousander winter expeditions in the starting blocks

Jost Kobusch in front of his tent at Everest Base Camp
“The Base Camp. The whole Base Camp. Nothing but the Base Camp,” writes Jost Kobusch

Christmas in the snow – that’s definitely true for most climbers who have set their sights on projects on eight-thousanders this winter. Jost Kobusch arrived at Everest Base Camp on Monday. After his attempt the winter before last, the 29-year-old German is tackling for the second time his project to ascend solo and without bottled oxygen over the Lho La, a 6,000-meter-high pass between Nepal and Tibet, the West Ridge and the Hornbein Couloir located in the North Face towards Everest summit. In his first solo attempt on this route, Jost had reached an altitude of 7,366 meters in February 2020. This time he set himself the goal of reaching the 8,000-meter-mark.

For acclimatization he was on the way in the west of Nepal. There he succeeded with his German compatriot Nicolas Scheidtweiler the first ascent of the 6,465-meter-high Purbung on 30 November.

In preparation to the top of Ama Dablam

Simone Moro on the summit of Ama Dablam
Simone Moro on the summit of Ama Dablam (Everest and Lhotse in the background)

Italian Simone Moro acclimatized for his winter attempt on Manaslu in the Everest region. There, he scaled along with his Nepalese companion Pasang Rinzee Sherpa first the 6,119-meter-high Lobuche East and then on Monday the 6,812-meter-high Ama Dablam.

Alex Txikon in Manaslu Base Camp
Alex Txikon in Manaslu Base Camp

Simone wants to climb this winter Manaslu together with the Spaniard Alex Txikon the 8,163-meter- and if possible afterwards also the 7,992-meter-high Pinnacle East. For the 54-year-old it is the fourth winter attempt on Manaslu, for the 40-year-old Txikon the second. Alex reached the Manaslu Base Camp at 4,850 meters yesterday.

Göttler and Co. on the Rupal face of Nanga Parbat

David Göttler on Nanga Parbat in winter 2014
David Göttler on Nanga Parbat in winter 2014

While the two winter attempts on Everest and Manaslu had been known for some time, the news of the arrival of German climber David Göttler, Italian Hervé Barmasse, US American Mike Arnold and Pakistani Qudrat Ali in northern Pakistan came as a surprise. They reportedly want to try their hand at the 4500-meter Rupal Face, the Southwest Face of the 8,125-meter-high Nanga Parbat.

For Göttler, it is the second winter attempt on this eight-thousander. In 2014, David had reached the Mazeno Ridge at 7,200 meters on the so-called Schell Route (named after the Austrian Hanns Schell, who climbed there in 1976) before turning back due to bad weather. The fact that Göttler did not publicly announce his new attempt suits the 43-year-old, who is upset about the many “announcement climbers” and himself rather proceeds according to the motto: First do it, then talk about it.

With Hervé Barmasse, David had climbed the South Face of the eight-thousander Shishapangma in Tibet in spring 2017. With 34-year-old Mike Arnold, who lives in the Aosta Valley in Italy, Göttler has already been en route on the Mont Blanc massif. The two have the same sponsor and are on their first expedition together. The 52-year-old Qudrat Ali is one of Pakistan’s most experienced high-altitude mountaineers. With Nanga Parbat, Broad Peak and Gasherbrum I and II, he has climbed four of the five eight-thousanders in his home country. The 52-year-old also has plenty of winter experience: among others, he tried in vain to climb Broad Peak in the cold season in 2008 and 2009.

Commercial expedition on K2

Cho Oyu (seen from Gokyo Ri )

Nepalese climber Gelje Sherpa will probably spent Christmas without snow. The 29-year-old plans to begin his Cho Oyu winter expedition not before 15 January. As reported, the “Mountain Tiger” wants to open a new route on the Nepali side of the 8,188-meter-high mountain with a team of Nepali climbers, which is also suitable for commercial expeditions. Unlike the winter climbers on Everest, Manaslu and Nanga Parbat, Gelje will probably be using bottled oxygen.

K2 with snow banner (in 2004)

The same applies to the commercial expedition that plans to attempt K2 in Pakistan this winter. Seven Nepalese climbers led by Nima Gyalzen Sherpa want to guide Taiwanese client Tseng Ko-Erh, also known as “Grace” Tseng, to the summit at 8,611 meters. The 28-year-old has already stood on five eight-thousanders, most recently last fall on Dhaulagiri and Kangchenjunga.