K2: The “Nepali Force” Ties Winter Altitude Record

K2 Sherpa Winter 8000ers

The weather on K2 was slightly better today than forecasts predicted, so climbers shook off the cold and continued to hurry up the Abruzzi Spur. In front, a 10-man “Nepali Force” headed by Mingma G and Nirmal Purja, plus at least one (Sona Sherpa) from Seven Summit Treks. Together, they reached, set up, and supplied Camp 3 at 7,350m (a little higher than usual) with ropes, O2, food, and fuel. They also fixed ropes above C3 to 7,600m. Purja said his team’s backpacks each weighed over 35kg.

The so-called Nepali Force also celebrated a milestone today. By reaching the Shoulder and stopping not far from Camp 4, they equaled the previous altitude record on winter K2, set by Denis Urubko in 2018.  Although some of them may be using supplemental O2, it remains a remarkable achievement and augers well for the weeks ahead.

Left to right, Tamara Lunger, JP Mohr, and Sergi Mingote in C1 yesterday. Alex Gavan, Mattia Conte, and Antonios Sykaris stopped at the lower “Japanese” C1. Photo: Sergi Mingote

According to his tracker, Sergi Mingote has moved up from C1 to C2; Juan Pablo Mohr and Tamara Lunger, who climbed with Mingote yesterday, likely went with him. According to our winter high-altitude consultant Jacek Teler, their advance is a wise move, since it puts them above most of the rocks that bombed climbers yesterday, clipping at least three of them. These cannonballs come from a rock barrier at 6,600m and loom over the route until after the crack known as House’s Chimney. By Camp 2, the rockfall danger has passed, although as Ralf Dujmovits pointed out yesterday, the avalanche terrain now begins in earnest.

What about tomorrow?

“Today’s weather is okay with a bit of wind,” Purja wrote a few hours ago. “It’s still freezing cold, but we have a clear sky with stars overhead.” While some forecasts show at least one more good weather day, and Dawa Sherpa expects the rope-fixing team to continue tomorrow, Purja’s forecast is less optimistic. He’ll likely move or stay put, depending on which prediction comes to pass. But Mingma G has confirmed that Dawa Tenzing, Kilu Sherpa, and himself will stay in C3 tomorrow.

Magdalena Gorzkowska and her group understandably want to spend as little time as possible in the rockfall zone, so will hurry all the way from BC to C2 tomorrow.

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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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F v
F v
9 months ago

Tomorrow C4, saturdaymorning summit push? Weather seems perfect with low winds predicted.

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Paul
Paul
9 months ago
Reply to  F v

Easy to say but they already are 4 nights on the mountain, it is not possible to eat/drink properly, all the time exposed to freezing weather, low oxygen. I think they are too tired to attempt the summit now even with O2. To make summit in winter you must do it in 2, max 3 nights on the mountain. But maybe I am wrong, we will see soon 🙂

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Not a K2 Climber
Not a K2 Climber
9 months ago

Whilst the “real” mountaineers are braving the weather and fixing ropes, everyone else is busy taking selfies and will probably rely on the fixed lines fixed by the strong Nepalese. This winter K2 attempt is dominated by social media narcissism and nothing else.

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Ron Morgan
Ron Morgan
9 months ago

as much as I hate to admit it, I have to pretty much agree with this. Sometimes the sheer quantity of help these people get with these climbs borders on the ridiculous.
I remember an interview with one of the veteran Everest Sherpas a couple of years ago. They asked him “how many of these climbers could make it to the top with absolutely no Sherpa help at all?” His answer was, “none.”
It’s almost gotten to the point where we have to redefine the word “climb.”

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Ronald
Ronald
9 months ago
Reply to  Ron Morgan

It seems a bit like that this year. The SST team has several clients. However i have big doubts any of them will summit, if one at all. The sherpa’s fixing the lines are also acclimatizing on higher camps. If there is a chance of summating it’s probably them working together with perhaps some strong independant teams (Snorri Sadparas and Tamara Lunger and partner). Than the other climbers still need to do rotations on higher camps and looking at the weather, not sure that will be possible any time soon. Besides that, there are still professional climbers like the earlier… Read more »

Maro
Maro
9 months ago

Rope-fixing teams? Supplement O2? Okay, noone cares then…

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Damien François
Damien François
9 months ago
Reply to  Maro

Did YOU summit K2 in Winter? Why does nobody know about it?
Comments like yours are simply completely out of place.

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Craig Quigley
Craig Quigley
9 months ago

Any use of 02 is cheating. Maybe try something smaller than 8000m if you need oxygen. The fixed rope issue is however debatable, and is more about style of climbing. Using fixed ropes set by sherpas with O2 is cheating though.

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Damien François
Damien François
9 months ago
Reply to  Craig Quigley

One question: What have you climbed?
Thank you

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Craig Quigley
Craig Quigley
9 months ago

Maybe you should use your 02 before you post on here too. Always an aggressive attitude to people with a different opinion.

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Louis-Philippe Loncke
9 months ago
Reply to  Craig Quigley

I disagree with the word cheating. Use of O2 and ropes makes it way easier of course but it is still very hard. It’s also a team effort. Hillary and Tenzing would have never been able to climb it without the help of other available “aids” back then. I think we will all congratulate any person making it to the top. Now the day someone does it from BC to the summit and back alone in the winter is not there yet. Might be in 10 or 100 years.

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Terri
Terri
9 months ago

Basically the Nepali climbers and guides are redefining what it is to be a ‘professional adventurer/explorer/mountaineer’ and showing that for too long Western people with money have put on a show and only revealed half the truth to the media when they get back home. The curtain has been pulled on the whole farce.

Nims has broken the game. He is so much stronger than any of the western climbers on the mountain this year and has completely redefined what is possible up there.

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Damien François
Damien François
9 months ago
Reply to  Terri

Exactly! But the “purists” (what have they climbed? The stairs to their first floor?) here don’t even realize that winter K2 is a, hopefully, first.
And they dislike, and dislike, and silkie, and even wish death to climbers! What a world.
JAYA Nims and Nepal!

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GARY PICKARD
GARY PICKARD
9 months ago

What an amazing achievement.

Well done to all so far.
You are AMAZING people.
Good luck and may GOD be with you on your way to the summit.F
From Gary A Pickrd.
I appreciate the scale of the challenge you are facing having trekked just to base camp in 1989.

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F v
F v
9 months ago

C4 7800 establised!!! Mingma g posted an old picture of the bottleneck and a new one!!! Tomorrow summit possible!!!

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Ronald
Ronald
9 months ago
Reply to  F v

Amazing news. I definitely think, if the sherpa’s feel ok (altitude wise) they will summit tommorow. Seems the perfect oppurtunity, not to much wind. I dont see anyone else summit. No one, besides the sherpa teams, is able to just pass camps (go from 2 to 4) sleep there and summit the next day. They did not do the high rotations as yet. I dont know which other climbers are already in camp 3 or higher. Good luck to everybody. Be safe

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Ron
Ron
9 months ago

Have you summited any of the 8000ers? sounds like you didn’t.

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Ron
Ron
9 months ago

Without the nepalis and sherpas, mountaineers suck big time.

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Vikram Handa
Vikram Handa
9 months ago
Reply to  Ron

I suppose according to you Tenzing and Hillary sucked too!? They also used oxygen and had 100s of people to help.. but WE rever them..

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