It’s quite normal that mountaineers return from an expedition with dirty clothes. After all, it’s important to travel with as little weight as possible. And that’s why, after the trip, the strong smell in the laundry room at home from clothes worn too long is simply part of it. But is it really necessary to wash your dirty laundry in public? For days, the members of the two recently failed K2 winter expeditions have been engaged in a media exchange of blows. With the meanwhile almost usual echo on the social networks – from people who weren’t there, but think they have to put their oar in.
Competition instead of cooperation
The accusations go back and forth. Among other things the Spaniard Alex Txikon accused the team of the Kazakh expedition leader Vassiliy Pivtsov in an interview with “explorersweb.com” of having left a lot of garbage on the mountain. According to Txikon, the climbers from Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan discredited the good reputation of the former Soviet climbing school. “All lies”, Pivtsov countered in the “Gazzetta dello Sport”, adding that the alleged garbage was gas and food supplies they had deposited there for fellow mountaineers next summer. And in general, said Pivtsov, the Spanish team – with the exception of the expedition doctor – had behaved arrogantly. There was a volley of further reproaches from both sides, which I don’t want to go into in detail. Irrespective of who is right, one thing becomes quite clear: On K2 two teams competed against each other, there was no trace of cooperation.
Soap opera on Nanga Parbat
That reminds me of what happened in winter 2016 on Nanga Parbat. At that time there was also a major dispute, which degenerated into a soap opera – however already on site in the base camp: The Spaniard Txikon and the Italian Daniele Nardi split up and also publicly expressed their differences, the Italian Simone Moro and the South Tyrolean Tamara Lunger got between the fronts. Nardi finally left the base camp prematurely. Txikon, Moro and the Pakistani Muhammad Ali “Sadpara” later succeeded the first winter ascent of this eight-thousander, which before had been a too hard nut to crack for more than 30 expeditions. Lunger had to turn back 70 meters below the summit.
The fact that Txikon, despite his earlier differences with Nardi, took part in the search on Nanga Parbat for the missing Italian and his British rope partner Tom Ballard last March is to the Spaniard’s credit.
On Nanga Parbat in 2016 as well as now on K2, the only eight-thousander still to be scaled in winter, it was all about a lot of prestige – and in the end also about money. Because the number of the “last big problems of mountaineering”, which are also accessible to the general public and can therefore be marketed well, is manageable. And so it is not surprising that teams with the same goal compete with each other. Nor that they argue on the mountain or afterwards. And that everyone wants to be right. But does the whole world have to know about it? For me, it’s alright if the dirty laundry remains in the participants’ laundry rooms.