K2: Photos, Details, and Reactions to an Epic Climb

K2 Winter 8000ers
The gigantic shadow of K2 stretches over the Karakorum at sunset, as NIrmal Purja holds the British and Nepali flags on the summit. Photo: Nirmal Purja

With all 10 summiters back in Base Camp recovering from what Nirmal Purja describes as “an overwhelming journey” and “one of the hardest pushes ever”, a few further details and some summit pics are slowly trickling out.

Purja has been the first to hint at an exciting story behind the scenes: “The decision to hit the summit was a tough one…there had been close calls where team members nearly turned around due to the extreme cold,” he wrote.

Purja added two pictures, including one on the summit, where he appears without an oxygen mask. No details yet about whether he or any of his partners went up without O2 or not.

Night falls as Mingma David poses at -40 on the summit of K2. Photo: Mingma David

News is also expected from Mingma G, whose factual, precise reports during the climb helped keep audiences “virtually” informed about this epic journey. Mingma originally launched the expedition on a shoestring budget, with only two Sherpa partners, to prove that K2 could be climbed in winter — and his vision proved correct. He deserves to share in the applause that his companions are already enjoying.

Climbers from all the world, from winter experts such as the Russians and Simone Moro, to living legends such as Messner, to aficionados from all walks of life, have congratulated the team. Of course, the debate around the use of oxygen will continue, since most no-O2 advocates point out that even if any of the climbers reached the top and descended without O2, they were supported by a strong team that did.

Nevertheless, as Simone Moro says, “One can always evolve, and there is always room for better styles and ethics.” In other words, for those yearning for a winter climb of K2 that is completely free of supplementary O2, the challenge awaits.

What is clear is that this has been a team effort, where every participant gave his all to achieve the goal and give Nepal a long-overdue page in the history of major mountaineering firsts. And none of it would have been possible without the organizational skills of expedition leader Chhang Dawa Sherpa, who managed the team, equipment, supplies, and tactics to execute a totally serviced international expedition to K2 in the dead of winter.

Apart from a historic first, this expedition could also prove a game-changer for commercial expeditions. The first footprints in the snow may now decorate the summit of winter K2, but many hungry climbers remain in Base Camp with ambitions to share the triumph. We still have 40 more days of action to go.

Nirmal Purja, well-frosted from breathing at -40, and without an O2 mask, descends K2. Photo: Nirmal Purja

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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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Saulius
Saulius
1 month ago

Namaste, congratulation to ALL the TEAM!

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With_or_Without_02
With_or_Without_02
1 month ago

Nirmal Purja just confirmed that he climbed without 02.

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Dan
Dan
1 month ago

Critic’s mouths = shut

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With_or_Without_02
With_or_Without_02
1 month ago
Reply to  Dan

Not sure about that. I think Angela is still not impressed with his photo poses.

+1
Craig hunter
Craig hunter
1 month ago
Reply to  Dan

Well said 👏

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Craig hunter
Craig hunter
1 month ago

Chris Bonington can put that in his pipe and smoke it!!! He was rather flippant about nims’ achievements when doing the 14 8000 peaks even although nims and team saved lives whilst doing so. He stated that it wasn’t really mountaineering (or words to that effect) but what is mountaineering?? In his heyday yes there were remarkable pioneering feats but there were also huge seige style expeditions involving colossal logistics fully supported by the sherpas whereby a few westerners might reach a peak (all more or less with oxygen). Those who still nit pick should take a leaf out of… Read more »

dan
dan
1 month ago
Reply to  Craig hunter

Says the bloke nitpicking.

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miszcz
miszcz
1 month ago

On the last photo Nirmal Purja is wearing his face mask incorrectly…

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TREFZ DELWYNE
TREFZ DELWYNE
1 month ago
Reply to  miszcz

Great point miszcz! Anyone who wants to be recognized as making the first no Os winter ascent of K2 danged sure better be wearing their face mask “correctly”!

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Naveed
Naveed
1 month ago
Reply to  miszcz

Hahahaa…. yeah he will probably get a ticket when he reaches England for not conforming to COVID rules 🙂

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North Undertaker
North Undertaker
1 month ago

Last picture he is underneath of Bottleneck. ? Sun is high. They went down by night. They went up by early morning. ??? Just asking

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