K2: Roundup From a Frigid Base Camp

K2 Winter 8000ers
Sergi Mingote in Camp 2 some days ago.

For the next few days, K2 climbers will struggle to keep themselves warm in Base Camp while waiting for the next good weather window around January 10. After a first rotation to higher camps, all have experienced how hard winter in the Karakorum can get. Now, stuck in their wind-battered tents as temperatures drop to -50ºC, they’ll have to try to avoid wondering, “What am I doing here?”

Dawa Sherpa has shared a wind speed forecast, showing how winds should drop, at least for a couple of days, around January 10.

Rope-fixing so far

John Snorri’s team fixed the lower part of the route while Mingma G and Purja’s groups worked between Camp 1 and Camp 3. Seven Summit Treks have carried more ropes, gear, and O2 to their highest point, in order to continue fixing upward as soon as possible.

Mingma G posted a video while fixing rope above the Black Pyramid. Despite the cold and windy day, they managed to reach 7,300m. Their next stage is to shuttle equipment to Camp 3 and extend the fixed ropes to Camp 4.

Rope-fixing at 7,100m on K2. Frame of a video by Mingma G

Reflections, plans and promises

Sergi Mingote also shared a video showing the bulletproof ice between Camp 1 and Camp 2 and described how he and Juan Pablo Mohr spent a miserable night in Camp 1 after they arrived heavily loaded and exhausted.

“After three days in Camp 1 and Camp 2, I [we] have returned to Base Camp with my last grams of energy,” he wrote. “And this is just the lower part of the mountain. Go figure how will it be on the upper sections.” And he implied how we shouldn’t be concerned about too many climbers on a potential summit push — the mountain itself will winnow out the crowds.

Carlos Garranzo. Fur ruffs are all the rage on K2 this year.

Garranzo: Only four or five potential summiters

Carlos Garranzo notes that the spirit in Base Camp is friendly and collaborative. “In the end, we are not so many,” he explains. “A significant number of people in the permit ended up being just trekkers or climbers’ relatives who accompanied them to Base Camp.” He considers that “only four or five people are prepared to seriously attempt the summit,” but gave no names.

Although the Spaniard is slowly recovering from a stomach bug, he recognizes that the delay in his acclimatization may doom his summit chances. “I will get as far as I can, do my best and learn from the experience,” he said.

Yesterday, the Facebook group Alpine Climbing poked lighthearted fun at the K2 expedition. Among other things, it pointed out Nirmal Purja’s tendency to pose for “high quality statue photos.”

Nirmal Purja as statue: the bronze versions are not yet available.

In a similar superhero tone, Purja has caused a stir on social media by “promising” that he’ll reach the summit. “I promise the hardest, the last and the greatest mountaineering feat #k2winter will belong to the Nepalese climbing community,” he proclaimed. “I will not leave the base camp until the mission is accomplished.” His usual hyper-confident style, where he refuses even to consider the possibility of not summiting, makes him sound like a boxer who has not been knocked out…yet.
By comparison, Reinhold Messner — who has also been accused of arrogance — is modest when it comes to the mountains. “People always say I had so many successes, but I had a lot of failures too,” he told ExWeb writer Ash Routen recently. “I failed 13 times on the 8,000m peaks. I am the mountaineer with the most failures in his life.”
Meanwhile, Tamara Lunger focuses on staying positive and practical: “I understand that the key to summit K2 without oxygen will be good acclimatization,” she wrote. “K2 with its power won’t make it easy for us. At the top, it is always so windy!” She added how different K2 in winter was compared to summer 2014 when she summited without O2.

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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