K2: Wind Drives Climbers Back to Base Camp

K2 Winter 8000ers
On the road to Askole. Photo: Mingma G

Today, -30ºC and knifing winds forced John Snorri’s team back to BC. The trio had spent yesterday night at Advanced Base Camp, hoping to fix the ropes up to Camp 1 today.

Left to right: Ali Sadpara, Sajid Sadpara and John Snorri in BC two days ago. Photo: John Snorri

Weather — not only enduring it but knowing what to expect, and when — is central to a challenge like winter K2. Polish veteran Jacek Teler explained the difficulties of forecasting at high altitude, especially in winter: “Multi-standard models are helpful, but have two serious limitations,” said Teler. “First, they are created more by mathematicians than by climate specialists. Such a model is useful for pilots because it is created specifically for them. It does not consider, for example, topography or the impact of local glaciers,” which is obviously vital for climbers on the ground.

Second, Teler went on, modeling needs data, and much of that data is collected by planes. This year, COVID not only closed the mountains, it stopped the flights, which has created a data gap and affected the precision of forecasts.

Dawa Sherpa and an advance group from Seven Summit Treks in Skardu earlier today. Photo: SST

Snorri’s team will at least have partly acclimatized and established a well-supplied ABC by the time weather improves around December 16 or 17.

Meanwhile, the mad rush to K2 continues. Chang Dawa and the Sherpa team by Seven Summit Treks are now in Skardu. They intend to set up Base Camp before the international climbers arrive next week. On Saturday, Mingma G reached Askole, the starting point for the trek to BC, where he hopes to arrive next weekend.

Nirmal Purja is not in such a hurry: He’ll head to Pakistan by Christmas. And RussianClimb has just revealed that a fifth winter K2 expedition is about to be announced. Stay tuned!

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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