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.”
“In top shape”
At the turnaround point at about 6,450 meters, he left a tent behind, reports the 29-year-old German. “However, I broke a tent pole in the process. I’m not sure if this is really a super place for a material deposit.”
Jost used the bad weather period of the past few days to descend into “thicker” air: to the village of Pangboche at around 4,000 meters. In the meantime, he is back in the valley of the Khumbu Glacier. “I feel in top shape,” Kobusch says. “The plan is to chill at base camp for the next few days, keep an eye on the weather and, when it gets better, climb back up.”
Blank ice and waist-high snow
On the eight-thousander Nanga Parbat in Pakistan, David Göttler and his Italian rope partner Hervé Barmasse climbed the Schell route to Camp 2 at 6,200 meters, where they first got stuck. Hervé spoke to the newspaper “La Gazetta dello Sport” of difficult conditions: first “such hard ice that the crampon tips could only penetrate with difficulty,” then waist-high snow.
According to Barmasse, the signs are more for descent than ascent: “We just hope there’s not too much snow, because that would increase the risk of avalanches on the way down.”
Return to Manaslu
On Manaslu in western Nepal – as reported – heavy snowfalls had driven climbers into the valley a week ago. An avalanche had even reached the base camp at about 4,800 meters and caused damage. Meanwhile, the Spaniard Alex Txikon and the Italian Simone Moro, who had recovered in in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, are back at Manaslu.
Sofie Lenaerts and Stef Maginelle from Belgium and Polish-Portuguese climber and filmmaker Oswald Rodrigo Perreira, had ascended to base camp earlier and started trail-breaking through the deep snow. According to Sofie, they plan to reach Camp 1 at around 5,700 meters on Saturday.
Update 15 Januar: David Göttler and Hervé Barmasse have returned safely to their base camp on Nanga Parbat.