Alex Txikon abandons Annapurna winter expedition

Alex Txikon at Annapurna I
Alex Txikon at Annapurna I

“I cannot afford to expose my companions any further,” writes Alex Txikon on Instagram today, “and so, after discussing and meditating all morning, we have decided to say yes to life, leaving behind our pretensions of continuing to try.”

On Thursday, Txikon’s team had abandoned the ascent towards the summit of Annapurna I at Camp 3 at 6,400 meters and returned to base camp. In the days before, it had stormed heavily on the 8,091-meter-high mountain in western Nepal. The material deposited in Camp 3 a week earlier had been blown into a crevasse.

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Winter attempts on the eight-thousanders Annapurna I and Gasherbrum I

Annapurna massif
Northwestern view of Annapurna (the main summit on the left)

“Although December is a very good and pleasant month in Nepal – I would say it is the best month of the year – the wind has made us suffer a lot,” Alex Txikon wrote on Instagram the day before yesterday. “It has blown between 70-80 km/hour, and we stopped very close to Chulu Far East, 6,059m. It is a nice mountain, but the wind has made us suffer … The most important thing is that we have spent many nights at high altitudes.” The 42-year-old Spaniard and his team are currently acclimatizing in the region around the eight-thousander Annapurna I in western Nepal for a winter attempt on the tenth highest mountain on earth.

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Göttler and Barmasse abandon Dhaulagiri winter expedition

Dhaulagiri (seen from the northeast)
Dhaulagiri (seen from the northeast)

David Göttler and Hervé Barmasse have pulled the ripcord on the weekend and abandoned their winter expedition on the 8,167-meter-high Dhaulagiri in western Nepal. The reason was the bad weather forecast for the seventh highest mountain on earth until the end of the month, said Göttler in a video he posted on Instagram: “Very high winds all the way till the end of the month and significant snowfall which could be a real problem if we are in Base Camp and trapped there.” Still, the 44-year-old German said they had “a very good time” during their expedition: “We learned a lot. And I am more than ever convinced that it is possible to climb an eight-thousand-meter peak in alpine style in winter.”

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Txikon without bottled oxygen on Manaslu according to his own words – Cho Oyu winter expedition obviously finished

Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain on earth (in 2007)

“Without a doubt, one of the toughest experiences of my career. But super rewarding!” That’s how Spanish climber Alex Txikon describes his successful Manaslu winter ascent. As reported, the 41-year-old Basque had reached the summit of the 8,163-meter-high mountain in western Nepal on Friday together with the Nepalese climbers Tenjen Sherpa, Pasang Nurbu Sherpa, Mingtemba Sherpa, Chhepal Sherpa, Pemba Tashi Sherpa and Gyalu Sherpa.

First videos and pictures of the ascent show to all appearances the “True Summit”, the very highest point at the end of the summit ridge – around which there had been so much fuss in recent years. A joint summit photo was not possible there due to lack of space, Txikon reported after returning to Kathmandu, adding that one after the other, they climbed to the highest point.

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Moro and Txikon to Manaslu – and Göttler and Barmasse?

Summit of Manaslu (l.)

That Simone Moro and Alex Txikon celebrate Christmas at home is rather rare. This year is no exception. The 55-year-old Italian and the 41-year-old Spaniard, who always climb without bottled oxygen in their projects, are proven specialists for winter expeditions. Alex has been in Nepal for some time, and now Simone has also arrived in the Himalayan state. Both want to try for the third winter in a row to climb the 8,163-meter-high Manaslu in western Nepal.

In the past two winters, their attempts had failed due to large snow masses on the eighth highest mountain on earth. Moro fears déjà vu. “The weather here has been fantastic for the last two months,” Simone said after arriving in Kathmandu. “I’m worried about that because it’s repeating the script that until Christmas it’s beautiful and then when the mountaineering winter starts, the astronomical winter, the conditions change.”

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Next Cho Oyu winter attempt of Gelje Sherpa

Gelje Sherpa
Gelje Sherpa

This Thursday, 1 December, the meteorological winter begins. And again Gelje Sherpa is drawn to the 8,188-meter-high Cho Oyu. The 30-year-old Nepali mountaineer wants to try again to climb the sixth highest mountain on earth via its Nepalese south side. The Norwegian Kristin Harila will probably also be there as his client. Gelje confirmed this to me: “Yeah, I’m planning to go with her [to Cho Oyu].”

Also on the team, according to Spanish sports newspaper Marca, is Brit Adriana Brownlee. The 21-year-old has so far scaled ten of the 14 eight-thousanders, with bottled oxygen, always led by Gelje.

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Cho Oyu: Now with joint forces

Cho Oyu
Nepalese side of Cho Oyu

After the second summit push last Monday was also not crowned with success, Gelje Sherpa has declared an end to the attempts over the Southeast Ridge of the eight-thousander Cho Oyu for the time being. “We put all our efforts into this push,” the 29-year-old let it be known. “We were so close. But our health and safety is the priority.”

According to Gelje, the Nepalese climbers reached an altitude of around 7,900 meters: “However, some of our team fell ill, there were also some issues with an oxygen mask and we decided that with this, the addition of incredibly strong winds up to 100kph and a very technical rock face near the ridge towards the summit it was time to retreat to basecamp.”

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Winter expeditions: Down – and over?

Sunrise on Mount Everest
Sunrise on Mount Everest (in fall 2019)

This Monday marks the end of the meteorological winter. All attempts to reach an eight-thousander summit in this cold season were unsuccessful. On Mount Everest, Jost Kobusch returned to the valley today after spending three days and nights at almost 6,500 meters.

“The weather forecast predicted higher speeds at the last minute, which would have made a climb too much of an unnecessary risk,” Jost writes on Facebook. “After all, the route remains technical. And believe me, it was definitely exciting enough to climb down the hard ice backwards and in the dark at high wind speeds.”

The 29-year-old German climber had already declared when setting out on his last ascent that he no longer saw a realistic chance of reaching the summit at 8,849 meters. In the best case, he could perhaps reach higher than during his first attempt two years ago, Jost had said. In 2020, he had reached the West Shoulder of Everest at just below 7,400 meters. But nothing came of it now, the strong wind did not abate. “It was really stormy and maybe a touch worse than I had hoped,” Kobusch summed up his expedition: “But at the end of the day, I learned a lot and am very grateful for the experience.”

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Jost Kobusch on Mount Everest: As high as possible – Waiting for summit chance on K2

Jost Kobusch as he set off
Jost Kobusch as he set off

It is the last ascent in his second solo winter attempt on Mount Everest. In view of the continuing strong winds, Jost Kobusch knows that – as two years ago – he will not reach the summit of the highest mountain on earth at 8,849 meters. He is aware that “the chance of reaching the summit is practically non-existent,” the 29-year-old German climber let it be known on social networks. “The only remaining hope is that I will get higher than last time, see more and gain experience. Maybe I’ll even beat my own record!”

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Gelje Sherpa’s team abandons summit attempt on Cho Oyu

Gelje Sherpa's team on ascent on Cho Oyu
Gelje Sherpa’s team on ascent on Cho Oyu

At 7,560 meters on the Southeast ridge of Cho Oyu was the end of the line. Due to announced gusts of up to 100 kilometers per hour in the upper zone of the eight-thousander, the ten-member Nepalese team led by Gelje Sherpa abandoned its summit attempt – “because the (weather) window was too short to get going,” as Ashok Rai, manager of the expedition, told the Internet portal “Everest Chronicle”: “There will be a second attempt once the weather improves.”

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Tough struggle for the winter expeditions on Everest, Cho Oyu and K2

Mount Everest
Mount Everest

What is still possible this winter for climbers on the eight-thousanders? After the expeditions on Nanga Parbat in Pakistan and on Manaslu ended unsuccessfully, only the attempts on K2 in the Karakoram in Pakistan and on the Himalayan giants Cho Oyu and Mount Everest in Nepal are still running.

Jost Kobusch currently has plenty of time to read during his solo attempt on Everest. “My favourite book at the moment: Positive Psychology for Dummies,” writes the 29-year-old German climber from Lobuche in the Everest Valley. “With the current conditions here, I really need this book!” In it, two English psychologists give tips on how to deal with difficult feelings and make your life happier and healthier.

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Winter expeditions on Everest and Co.: Patience is needed

Suddenly aged? Jost Kobusch
Suddenly aged? Jost Kobusch

Jost Kobusch hasn’t lost his sense of humor yet. “And I’m still waiting for better weather…,” the 29-year-old German climber wrote on social media, posting a fake portrait showing him as an old man with a gray beard. For the past week and a half, Jost has been killing time in the village of Lobuche, located at about 5,000 meters in the Everest Valley. Snowfall and gale-force storms are currently making mountaineering impossible in the region around the world’s highest mountain.

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Winter expeditions: Difficult conditions on Mount Everest, Nanga Parbat and Manaslu.

Jost Kobusch at the "Pyramid", the Italian research station near Lobuche in the Everest Valley
Jost Kobusch at the “Pyramid”, the Italian research station near Lobuche in the Everest Valley

Blank ice or deep snow – this is how the eight-thousanders are currently presenting themselves to climbers attempting them this winter. “Compared to last time, the conditions are much icier,” Jost Kobusch tells me.

Just over a week ago, he had climbed Mount Everest towards the West Shoulder, on the same route that had taken him to just below 7,400 meters during his first winter attempt two years ago. As he did then, this year Jost is again climbing solo and without bottled oxygen. “There wasn’t as much snowfall as last time. And the little snow didn’t stay on the ice, of course, but was immediately blown away.”

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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.

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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.

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