Snorri On his Way to K2 BC, More on Manaslu

K2 in winter. Photo: Kuno Lechner

Expectations are growing about the upcoming winter season in the Himalaya, although those involved are carefully doling out the information about their plans.

Last week, Nirmal Purja announced that he will join the ever-growing K2 army, although details remain under wraps. Sergi Mingote, co-leader of the Seven Summit Treks mega-team, also declines to say much, except that “it’s good news to have Nirmal Purja on the mountain. He is strong and skilled, and I am sure we will collaborate.”

Purja and Mingote know each other fairly well, after sharing summit pushes last year on Nanga Parbat and Gasherbrum II. For Mingote, winter K2 is a break from his pursuit of climbing all 8,000m peaks without supplementary O2. Mingote, who will fly to Pakistan in two weeks, also says that more climbers will publicly announce their plans for winter K2 shortly.

Overall, this is the busiest winter ever seen in the Karakorum, with unprecedented numbers on K2. Karrar Haidri reports that 60 non-Pakistani climbers will target K2 this season — a significant number even in summer —  and half of these will be from Nepal.

Ahead of them all is Iceland’s John Snorri, together with Ali and Sajid Sadpara. The trio started the trekking from Askole yesterday and reached Paiju Camp earlier today. Their plan is to reach Base Camp by December 5, start climbing on Dec 8 and, “make (it to the) summit by Dec 31, if lucky,” The Northerner blog reported.

Sajid Sadpara, John Snorii and Ali Sadpara.

The early start allows Snorri to get ahead of the other teams, although alone on the mountain, with no fixed ropes or established camps, their timetable is extremely optimistic. On social media, Snorri introduced the Sadparas as the expedition’s HAP (high altitude porters), which implies that all leadership and decision-making rests upon the Icelander. Snorri’s definition of Ali Sadpara as a mere HAP has earned him some flak. It is true that Ali Sadpara usually breaks trail and fixes ropes for larger teams, both in Pakistan and Nepal, but he is also one of the most experienced high altitude winter climbers in the world. He owns a first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat, and has summited 8,000m peaks nine times in other seasons. To call him a HAP is a bit of a slap.

Should they summit, it also might not be considered a “real” winter ascent by some definitions, including Simone Moro’s.

Moro is currently preparing for his third attempt on winter Manaslu. In an interview with la Gazzetta dello Sport, he cites what he calls the “new rules” for winter Himalayan climbing, which defines winter as running from December 21 to February 28. This contrasts with the definition applied by Nepal authorities on their climbing permits, and followed by the Polish expeditions of the 1980s, which considered that winter starts today, December 1.

Winter Manaslu, 2018. Photo: Simone Moro

The Italian climber has joined forces with Spaniards Alex Txikon (with whom he shared the first winter summit of Nanga Parbat) and Txikon’s friend Iñaki Alvarez. They fly to Nepal on December 31 and will climb until the end of February. When they actually begin climbing depends on whether they will need to quarantine in Kathmandu first. “We’ll decide the ascent route from Base Camp [based on] the snow conditions,” Moro said earlier today.

Alex Txikon and Simone Moro on a previous trip to Nepal.

In addition to Manaslu’s main summit, they intend to reach the Northeast pinnacle (7,992m) as well. Moro points out that it took him three tries to succeed on winter Nanga Parbat — also with Alex Txikon — and that this is his third winter attempt on Manaslu as well. Simone Moro has already made a record four first winter ascents on 8,000’ers.

Finally, although winter Himalayan ace Denis Urubko seemingly remains focused on sport climbing in Europe, he posted a tantalizing message on Instagram today: “First Winter Day…dreams about High-Altitude,” he wrote, beneath a photo of Broad Peak in winter.

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About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!

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John Bezik
4 months ago

GOD bless all the winter warriors. May their climbing pursuits be safe. K2 will be vicious as always during a winter attempt and will not fall easily if ever . GO CLIMBERS and all support personnel. SAFETY FIRST !!!

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Brian
Brian
4 months ago

I thought K2 was in the Karakoram Range, why is it called a Himalayan mountain?

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Jerry Kobalenko
Admin
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian

Corrected, thanks.

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