Winter expeditions: Strong winds force break

K2 with snow banner (in 2004)

The freezing winter wind is blowing – both on K2, the second highest mountain in the world in Pakistan, and on the eight-thousander Manaslu in Nepal. On K2, numerous climbers have spent their first nights on the mountain in recent days: in Camp 1 at 6,100 meters or Camp 2 at 6,600 meters.

Three Sherpas from the Nepalese expedition operator Seven Summit Treks, who actually wanted to push the route via the Abruzzi Spur further up, spent two nights in the so-called “Black Pyramid” at around 7,050 meters, but then returned to base camp empty-handed because of the stormy wind. At least they were able to deposit material up there.

Thus it remains that the route is secured with fixed ropes until just below the planned Camp 3 at 7,200 meters. Not until next Sunday the wind is supposed to calm down again temporarily. Until then, it might be advisable to spend the time at base camp.

Kowalewski: “Impossible without bottled oxygen”

Kowalewski K2
Waldemar Kowalewski: Farewell to K2

From there, the Pole Waldemar Kowalewski was flown out yesterday by helicopter. He had suffered a hernia during the ascent to Camp 1, Waldemar wrote on Facebook adding that apparently the 21-kilogram backpack was too heavy.

Kowalewski actually wanted to climb the 8,611-meter K2 this winter without bottled oxygen as one of about a handful of climbers among some 60 summit contenders. “After my second winter ascent on K2, I think there is a lack of modern technology to reach this summit in a sporting way, that is, without using supplemental oxygen. It is impossible!” wrote Kowalewski.

What is needed above all, he said, are long-lasting batteries that can be used to keep gloves and boots warm throughout the climb, as well as a technical method to speed up the melting of the snow in the icy conditions. In winter 2018/19, the Pole had also had to be flown out from K2 by helicopter because he had been hit on the collarbone by a stone or chunk of ice during the descent.

Moro and Txikon on the way to Manaslu

Manaslu (l.) and Pinnacle East (r.)

At the 8,163-meter-high Manaslu, too, there is currently no thought of an ascent because of the stormy winds. The Italian Simone Moro and the Spaniards Alex Txikon and Inaki Alvarez have set off after the week-long mandatory quarantine in Kathmandu. Supported by the two Nepalese Chhepal Sherpa and Kalden Phurba Sherpa, they want to climb – without bottled oxygen – the eighth highest mountain on earth and, if possible, also the nearby 7,992-meter-high Pinnacle East.

As reported, the two Nepalese Tenji Sherpa and Vinayak Jay Malla want to climb Manaslu in alpine style. They have already been training on the slopes of the mountain for several days.