Mount Everest, Manaslu, Nanga Parbat: Snowfall slows down winter expeditions

Jost Kobusch on the ascent towards Everest West Ridge

It will probably be a base camp weekend. Whether on Mount Everest and Manaslu in Nepal or on Nanga Parbat in Pakistan, meteorologists are expecting snowfall this weekend on all eight-thousanders where climbers are already staying in order to climb these mountains this winter.

Jost Kobusch is recovering – according to his GPS tracker – in the village of Lobuche at nearly 5,000 meters from his previous days’ climb towards the West Shoulder of Everest. The maximum altitude his tracker showed was 6,464 meters yesterday (Thursday) before he descended back into the Khumbu Glacier Valley via the Lho La, a 6000-meter pass between Nepal and Tibet.

“There is a lot of ice and avalanches coming down here,” the 29-year-old German had let know on Instagram on Wednesday. For the second time after 2020, Jost is attempting the rarely climbed West Ridge route, solo and without bottled oxygen. After climbing to the West Shoulder at 7,366 meters in his first attempt, he has set an altitude of 8,000 meters as his goal this winter.

“Situation is critical”

The winter climbers on Manaslu in western Nepal are virtually suffocating in fresh snow. After there had already been plenty of it a week ago, the dry fine weather phase lasted only briefly. “Since yesterday, including the night, we have been shoveling snow in turns,” wrote Spaniard Alex Txikon on Twitter today. “It doesn’t stop falling. It would be impossible to try to get out of base camp now, neither up nor down. The situation is critical. We dug pits at the entrances to our tents to allow us to get in and out.”

On Wednesday the team around Txikon and Italian Simone Moro had aborted their attempt to reach Camp 2 at about 6,400 meters because of too deep snow and too high avalanche danger.

Also staying at Manaslu Base Camp are Sofie Lenaerts and Stef Maginelle from Belgium, as well as Polish-Portuguese climber and filmmaker Oswald Rodrigo Perreira, plus some Nepalese climbers who have already fixed ropes on the route.

Waiting to meet

Hervé Barmasse during an acclimatization climb

Also on Nanga Parbat, snowfall forces German David Göttler, Italian Hervé Barmasse and American Mike Arnold to be idle at base camp. Göttler and Barmasse want – as of now – to ascend to the summit at 8,125 meters via the Schell route, Arnold will return home to his place of residence in Italy.

“The main characteristic of an expedition is the expectation of good weather. In winter sometimes things get complicated,” Hervé wrote on Instagram today. “Since we arrived at base camp, we’ve only had two days of sunshine without wind.” However, the Italian has not lost his optimism: “Nanga still hides but sooner or later the sun will shine for days and so, we will have the opportunity to introduce ourselves and get to know each other better.”

Update 9 January: Alex Txikon, Simone Moro and all other climbers on Manaslu have descended to Samagaon village. Txikon and Moro flew back to Kathmandu by helicopter. After three meters of fresh snow, the avalanche danger on Manaslu was too high, Moro said. The two professional mountaineers plan to return to base camp when the weather has calmed and the snow has settled.