“The long term weather forecast confirms that there is not a decent weather window on the horizon. The jet stream is sitting very comfortably stable just above the summit of Nanga Parbat,” writes German climber David Göttler from base camp at the foot of the 8,125-meter-high mountain in Pakistan.
His Italian team partner Hervé Barmasse adds that wind speeds of 70 to 200 kilometers per hour are expected in the summit area. “And as it almost always happens, after such a strong wind, the heavy snowfalls will start again, making the wait at base camp pointless.” So after about four weeks, Göttler and Barmasse will pitch down their tents in Pakistan and return home.
“Not sitting endlessly in the cold”
The two had planned to climb in alpine style – i.e. without fixed ropes, without fixed high camps and without bottled oxygen – via the 4,500-meter-high Rupal Face onto the ninth-highest mountain on earth. At one point, they had reached an altitude of 6,200 meters, but had to descend again from there due to bad weather and the amount of fresh snow on the mountain.
So now the end of the expedition. “It’s not an easy decision, but we have thought carefully, discussed endlessly and listened to our emotions in order to make it,” says David. “Maybe a great weather window appears in a couple of weeks that would have been perfect, but we have chosen not to take the risk of sitting endlessly in the cold waiting for that small chance.”
At peace with themselves
Although both had certainly expected more chances to reach higher altitudes than they did, they don’t seem disappointed. “I have never regretted an experience, and I certainly won’t regret this one,” Hervé writes. “I believed (and still believe) that it is possible to climb the biggest wall in the world in winter and in a clean, light alpine style. A style that respects mountain and man.”
David is also at peace with himself, in his own words: “I am happy with what I have learned and with the time I’ve spent here. Now it’s time to move on.”