Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Winter Climb Update: Progress On K2 and Nanga Parbat

The winter attempt on Denali may be over for Lonnie Dupre, who was picked-up from Base Camp on Monday, but in the Karakoram, things are just getting started. Several teams have now settled into place and are working their routes in hopes of success during the coldest, harshest season of them all.

On K2, the Russians are methodically sticking to their plan, and going about their work, in a professional and straightforward fashion. The weather has been less than cooperative so far, but that was to be expected on the world's most challenging mountain, but despite high winds and -75ºF/-59ºC temperatures, the talented team continues to make progress.

Working in teams of two and three, they have been focused on fixing ropes above Camp 1, and according to updates on their website, C2 could be established as early as tomorrow. The climbers have taken turns installing the lines and sleeping at altitude in order to not only acclimatize, but also stay well rested for the challenges ahead. All team members and gear are now on the mountain, and many of their supplies have also been shuttled up to C1. Progress has been slow, but steady, but the real difficulties will set in above Camp 2, where the winds and heavy snows of K2 will really start to become a problem.

Meanwhile, two teams are getting settled in over on Nanga Parbet, which also remains unclimbed in the winter. Denis Urubko and Simone Moro were the first to arrive and after getting settled in Base Camp, they began their ascent. The duo has already established Camp 1 at 5100 meters (16,732 ft) and spent a night their acclimatizing, but unstable snow conditions above that point have prevented them from going higher.

Upon returning to BC, Denis and Simone discovered they had company. The Polish team that has also set its sights on Nanga this season was in camp and getting set-up as well. The two teams will no doubt share the work load of fixing the lines, although you know that they each want to be the first to claim the summit.

Denis and Simone are also releasing video dispatches of their journey, the first of which can be seen below. The excellent video shows the men as they leave Italy and make their way to Pakistan, where they organize gear and put the finishing touches on their planning, before heading out to Base Camp. Pay special attention to all the bags they have with them. It'll give you a sense of how much gear is required for one of these expeditions. Can't wait for more of these dispatches! Great stuff!