Winter expeditions on Manaslu and K2: Waiting for the weather window

Tenji Sherpa (l.) and Vinayak Jay Malla (r.) in Manaslu Base Camp
Tenji Sherpa (l.) and Vinayak Jay Malla (r.) in Manaslu Base Camp

“We are feeling good and very well acclimatized,” writes Tenji Sherpa, who plans to climb the 8,163-meter-high Manaslu in western Nepal with his Nepalese compatriot Vinayak Jay Malla this winter. “Currently we are at base camp, a schedule rest day and (we are) waiting for the good weather window.” However, stormy high-altitude winds are forecast for the eighth-highest mountain on earth this weekend, which can reach hurricane force in the summit zone.

“Safety above all”

View from Manaslu Base Camp to Pinnacle East (in 2007)
View from Manaslu Base Camp to Pinnacle East (in 2007)

Italian Simone Moro and Spaniards Alex Txikon and Inaki Alvarez – supported by Nepalese Chhepal Sherpa and Kalden Phurba Sherpa – are also waiting at base camp for the high-altitude storms to subside. They have set their sights not only on the winter ascent of Manaslu, but also of the 7,992-meter-high nearby Pinnacle East , without bottled oxygen.

Tenji and Vinayak want to climb Manaslu in alpine style. Nothing has changed in this plan, Tenji writes to me: “We are committed to our original goal though we’ll always choose safety above all.”

They were very happy about the historic first winter ascent of K2 by their Nepalese compatriots less than a week ago, the 29-year-old said. “We are so proud of them, they made our country proud and motivated young Nepali climbers.”

New rope team on K2

After the departure of the successful K2 summit team led by Nirmal Purja and Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, the remaining climbers are waiting for better weather at the foot of the second highest mountain on earth, located in Pakistan. The South Tyrolean Tamara Lunger and the Chilean Juan Pablo Mohr have joined forces to form a new rope team. Both want to climb K2 without bottled oxygen.

K2
The 8,611-meter-high K2 (in 2004)

Mohr was on the mountain with Sergi Mingote when the Spaniard fell several hundred meters on the descent last Saturday and died of his serious injuries. “Now we have a new guardian angel with us who will accompany us up the mountain in spirit,” Mohr told Spanish mountaineering portal desnivel.com. “I think he would have liked us to make a summit attempt.”

Lunger’s original team partner Alex Gavan had decided to pull up stakes on K2 after the disaster. “Humbly listening to the signs and getting the message when it is all around written with capital letters has always kept me safe and on the right path in this life,” the Romanian wrote on Instagram.

Tamara Lunger (r.) in the tent with Juan Pablo Mohr and Sergi Mingote (l.)
Tamara Lunger (r.) in the tent with Juan Pablo Mohr and Sergi Mingote (l.) two weeks ago

Tamara, on the other hand, decided to stay. “K2 means so much to me,” the 34-year-old explained her decision. “And although the last rotation on the mountain tried me psychologically, I am convinced that everything I am experiencing here is of great value.”

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