Ten mountain rescuers of the Indian-Tibetan border police have recovered seven bodies near the seven-thousander Nanda Devi in the Indian Himalayas. They were buried under a metre and a half of snow, a representative of the Indian authorities said. The search for an eighth climber will continue. As reported, the group led by the experienced British expedition leader Martin Moran had been missing since the end of May. The mountaineers had tackled a 6,477-meter-high mountain not far from the 7,434-meter-high Nanda Devi East.
A few days after contact with them had broken off, the crew of a rescue helicopter had discovered five bodies in an avalanche cone on the west ridge of the mountain. The search had to be interrupted due to new heavy snowfalls and therefore high risk of avalanches. Moran Mountain had contradicted the authorities’ accusation that the group had made their way to the unclimbed six-thousander without permission. According to the British expedition operator, the permit applied to all peaks which could be reached from Nanda Devi East Base Camp.
Nirmal, called “Nims” Purja has not lost his optimism yet. “We are making progress, the project is still on and I will complete it within my seven-month goal,” the 36-year-old Nepalese posted on Twitter these days. In seven months Nims wants to have scaled all 14 eight-thousanders. In the spring season in Nepal everything went according to plan. Within a month and a day he stood on the summits of six eight-thousanders: Annapurna (23 April), Dhaulagiri (12 May), Kangchenjunga (15 May), Mount Everest (22 May), Lhotse (22 May), Makalu (24 May). The last three summits he completed within 48 hours and 30 minutes. He ascended with his Sherpa team with bottled oxygen via the normal routes. They were flown to the different base camps by helicopter.
But Purja did not only make headlines with his ascents. On Annapurna, he belonged to the Nepalese who laid the fixed ropes up to the summit. Then he took part in the rescue of the Malaysian mountaineer Wui Kin Chin. Nims and the other rescuers managed to bring Chin from over 7,000 meters from the mountain, but he died a few days later in a hospital in Singapore. On Dhaulagiri, Purja and his companions were the only climbers to reach the summit this spring – despite bad weather. On Kangchenjunga, Nims tried to rescue two Indian climbers who, completely exhausted, had run out of oxygen when they descended. Both died. Most of the headlines, however, were brought to the former soldier of the British Gurkha regiment by the photo he took on 22 May on the summit ridge of Everest. The picture, which showed a long queue on the narrow ridge, went around the world.
Actually, Nims Purja wanted to be now already in Pakistan – for the second phase of his “14/7 Project Possible”: this summer he wants to scale the five eight-thousanders of Pakistan. But he had to postpone his departure because he still lacks money to continue his project. Nims has already taken out a second mortgage on his house in Great Britain. He collects donations via crowdfunding (anyone who wants to support him can do so here – click on the link!). I sent Purja some questions. Here are his answers.
Nims, you stood on the summit of six eight-thousanders in Nepal this spring and were right on schedule with your “Project Possible”. You had to fight the most on Dhaulagiri. How much risk did you have to take?
Little by little the expedition teams arrive in the north of Pakistan in order to tackle the country’s mountain giants this summer. According to US mountain blogger Alan Arnette, the government in Islamabad has issued almost 400 permits so far, including 164 for the Pakistani south side of K2, the second highest mountain in the world. For comparison: the Chinese authorities granted 142 permits for the northern side of Mount Everest in the past spring season.
A K2 permit for a five-member expedition team costs 12,000 dollars, i.e. 2,400 dollars per person. For every additional climber 3,000 dollars become due. Compared to Everest, this is almost a bargain: both on the Nepalese south side and on the Tibetan north side you pay 11,000 dollars per head, in Tibet it includes a garbage collection fee of 1,500 dollars.
I guess it’s a classic win-win situation. The Nepalese expedition operator “Seven Summit Treks” benefits from the fact that Pakistan’s top climber Muhammad Ali “Sadpara” strengthens their rope fixing team on the 8,485-meter-high Makalu. And the 43-year-old thus gets the chance to scale the fifth highest mountain on earth in Nepal. The climber is financially supported in this project by the Pakistan Army. For Muhammad, who has been in Nepal since Wednesday, this is the second attempt on Makalu. In spring 2016, he had to turn around 150 meters below the summit in bad weather. At that time he had worked as a mountain guide for the Brazil-born American Cleo Weidlich.
With every hour that passes without any sign of life from Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard, the concern for the two mountaineers grows. The last call of the 42-year-old Italian and the 30-year-old Briton by satellite phone from Nanga Parbat was received on Sunday from an altitude of about 6,300 meters – from the “Mummery Rib”, which they wanted to climb completely for the first time. Since then radio silence. This does not necessarily mean that something has happened to them. Maybe they are stuck in a radio hole. Or the battery of the satellite phone has run out. Nevertheless, an uneasy feeling is spreading.
The “torture of climbers” is coming to an end. For almost two weeks, the members of the winter expeditions on the eight-thousanders K2 and Nanga Parbat in Pakistan were more or less condemned to do nothing because of the adverse weather conditions. Hardly anything is worse for mountaineers, who are always drawn outside and up. But strong wind and snowfall prevented ascents into high altitudes. In K2 Base Camp, the team of Spanish expedition leader Alex Txikon built a 1.80 meter high and 20 centimeter wide ice wall in front of the tents to protect themselves against the expected hurricane gusts. A good idea. Wind speeds of more than 100 kilometres per hour were measured (see Alex’ video below) .
Bad weather forces the climbers of the winter expeditions on the
eight-thousanders K2 and Nanga Parbat in Pakistan and on Manaslu in Nepal to
inactivity. The team from Kazakhstan, Russia and Kyrgyzstan led by Vassiliy
Pivtsov returned to K2 Base Camp yesterday after the seven climbers, according
to their own words, had fixed ropes on the classical Abruzzi route up
to an altitude of 6,300 meters. The
Spaniard Alex Txikon’s team has not yet ascended, but built in the base camp three igloos, in
which a total of ten to 14 people can sleep. Alex was thrilled after his first
While the winter expedition teams at the eight-thousanders K2 and Manaslu
have only just moved into their base camps, the Italian Daniele Nardi and his three companions on Nanga Parbat are in a more advanced phase.
Today Daniele, the Brit Tom Ballard and the two Pakistani mountaineers Rahmat
Ullah Baig and Karim Hayat ascended
again to Camp 3 at 5,700 meters, directly below the Mummery Rib. Five days ago,
the four climbers had deposited a tent there and then returned to base camp.
Several winter expeditions in the Himalayas and Karakoram started in the first days of the year. Two of the three climbers who had succeeded the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat in 2016 met in Lhukla in Nepal, however now with different goals: The Spaniard Alex Txikon wants to tackle K2 in Pakistan, the last remaining eight-thousander to be climbed for the first time in the cold season, the Italian Simone Moro is drawn to Manaslu again. The 51-year-old and the South Tyrolean Tamara Lunger had failed on the 8167-meter-high mountain in western Nepal in 2015 because of the enormous snow masses of that winter. This year, according to the Kathmandu-based newspaper “The Himalayan Times”, Moro plans to climb with the Nepalese Pemba Gyalje Sherpa on the normal route without bottled oxygen. In order to acclimatize, they wanted to climb the 6,476-meter-high Mera Peak in the Khumbu region. Continue reading “Winter expeditions are on”