K2 remains unclimbed in winter

Alex Txikon, marked by K2

The second highest mountain on earth has once again shown its teeth in winter. After the team from Kazakhstan, Russia and Kyrgyzstan, led by Vassiliy Pivtsov, had broken off their summit attempt on the Southeast Ridge of K2 at 7,500 meters due to poor visibility a week and a half ago, the Spaniard Alex Txikon and his Sherpa team now also returned to base camp without summit success. Their Camp 3 at about 7,050 meters altitude was the end of the line.

“The strong wind didn’t let us climb upwards,” Alex explained. “Winter K2 resists, but we must respect it. You have to listen to the mountain. This winter has showed us that it is not the time yet. I will definitely return!” Perhaps already next summer. Txikon has announced that he wants to try the first traverse of the mountain: ascent via the Chinese side of K2, descent via the Pakistani side. Let’s see if the Chinese authorities will grant him a permit.

K2 ambitions put behind for search

At the beginning of March, the 37-year-old Spaniard and three of his team members had selflessly taken part in the search for the climbers Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard who were missing on Nanga Parbat, thus putting their K2 ambitions at the back. Alex had finally discovered the lifeless bodies of the 42-year-old Italian and the 30-year-old British with a telescope in the rock of the “Mummery Rib”  at about 5,900 meters. A recovery of the bodies from there had not been possible.

Six unsuccessful K2 winter expeditions so far

View on K2 from base camp

Afterwards Txikon had returned to K2 in order to make a summit attempt shortly before the end of the calendar winter. But he also failed. Txikon’s expedition team is already the sixth to leave K2 empty-handed in winter. The 8,611-meter-high mountain in the Karakoram thus remains the only one of the 14 eight-thousanders that has never been scaled in the cold season. For winter 2019/2020 another Polish winter expedition to K2 has already been announced, the fourth after 1988, 2003 and 2018. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my career, it’s that if you’re obsessed with the mountains, they won’t care who you are and won’t respect you,” Alex Txikon sums up. “The mountains are free, you are just a visitor who is there to climb it.”

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