Noel Hanna on K2: “Camp 3 was not that bad”

K2 Winter 8000ers

A guide on Everest (he has topped out nine times) and a summer K2 summiter, Noel Hanna of Northern Ireland hardly fits the “tourist” tag of some members of Seven Summit Trek’s recent expedition to K2. Neither is he prone to tell epic stories of chaos and near-death experiences. When ExplorersWeb asked Hanna if the expedition turned out as he had expected, he firmly answered, “Yes, it has.”

“I knew that K2 had never been summited in winter before so it was going to be a bonus if we did it,” he said.

Not that he was there just to get by. He really wanted to reach the summit, “if the weather allowed it — but it didn’t,” Hanna said. “You need a three-day weather window for a summit push and that is unusual in winter.”

Notably, Hanna disagrees with the general perception of inexperienced tourists flocking to an impossible and potentially deadly venture.

“Some people think that Seven Summit Treks had just gathered people to get the money, but I think was clear from the start that no one should attempt something like winter K2 without wide previous experience,” he said. “Ninety percent of the people had been on at least six 8,000’ers before.

“Besides, when we launched our summit push, some climbers turned around at Camp 1, which I think was good because they honestly assessed their own abilities.

“To me, that window was not good enough for anybody to attempt the summit. It was very different for the Nepali team two weeks before. They did have a three-day window and were set up at Camp 3, so they didn’t need to go all the way from BC for the summit attack.”

Although the tragic end of the expedition left a bitter taste to the entire venture, everything went well during the first weeks.

“Overall, the atmosphere was good,” said Hanna. “Everybody was happy. When the Nepalis summited, the mood got even better, because they had proved that it was possible to reach the summit, and weather permitting, we might get there too.

“But we were not lucky enough to enjoy such a long window. Moreover, after two weeks of hanging around Base Camp, we were starting to lose our acclimatization. Then with such small break in the weather, the odds were against.”

Summit Push against all odds

Still, he tried. “Yes, I did, of course, hoping the window might end up being a bit longer. I was receiving my own fresh forecasts from home every day. But before I left C2 [on the morning of February 4], my wife told me that according to the hourly data from the summit of K2, the winds were higher than expected. So in the back of my mind, I was already considering the idea of turning around unless conditions changed — and they didn’t. That is why I didn’t even try to get above Camp 3.”

The situation at Camp 3 wasn’t ideal, Hanna says, but neither was it as chaotic as reported.

Noel Hanna (yellow and black) waves in Camp 3. Antonios Sykaris, in blue and yellow, crouches in front. Photo: Noel Hanna

“I reached Camp 3 at 5, 5:30 pm, and it was already dark,” recalls Hanna. “Tomaz, Colin, Pablo, possibly Ali were already there, and Tamara had just arrived in front of me. I knew my Sherpa was right behind me, so when I arrived, I went to check on Tamara and Pablo, chatted for 15 to 20 minutes, and then Tempa said, “Hey Noel, the tent’s ready!”

As for other tents, or lack of them: “Three tents were supposed to be there, deposited — as I understand it — by the Sherpa team which had summited two weeks before. They had left these tents in C3 in order to avoid taking them down and also knowing that other climbers would be coming up later. When I reached the camp, there was Pablo (Juan Pablo Mohr) and Tamara Lunger’s tent, Colin O’Brady and his Sherpas with Tomaz Rotar in another tent, and — it was dark, but there might have been another tent. While I was talking to Pablo, the Sherpas put up one more tent, but I am not sure if they found it or if they had carried it with them.

“I entered a tent, and there was me, Santa Claus (that’s Bernhard Lippert, we called him Santa because of his long beard), two Sherpas, and then Antonio [Sykaris] came in.”

Sykaris had mentioned that it was Noel who let him in after he begged for a place in a tent for nearly an hour. However, Hanna explained: “It’s not me letting him in, because it wasn’t my tent, it was the expedition’s tent. I do remember, that’s true, Antonio coming and me telling him to get in.”

“Nobody was left outside, everybody got into a tent. To me, it wasn’t that bad. At very high altitude, it’s just like on Everest: You don’t put up a tent for one or two people. At altitude, it’s so difficult to put up a tent that the norm is to have three, four, five people sharing each tent, rather than getting frostbitten trying to pitch more tents. So well, yes, it would have been nicer to have one less in the tent, but it really didn’t bother me.”

“On the morning of February 5, I was completely sure that I was going down. Winds were expected to pick up to 50 to 60kph that afternoon and then increase to over 100kph on the summit, so descending was a no-brainer.” In the video below, from Camp 3, Hanna explains his final decision:

The descent was uneventful, Hanna recalls. “I went down with Tamara, stopping every 30 to 40 minutes. It took long, especially 15 minutes below Camp 1 when Tamara’s headlamp fell off and we had to progress with only my lamp. It started to run low on batteries by ABC. We finally had to use the light of Tamara’s iPhone. But otherwise, we were okay, and it was a beautiful, starry night.”

Hanna can’t figure out how those who stayed behind to go for the summit crossed the great crevasse that Tomaz Rotar spoke about. “I had no idea of the existence of that obstacle until I read a FaceBook post a couple of days ago,” he said. “When we went to Camp 3, no one knew there will be an impassable crevasse because the Nepalis had taken an alternative route. I did know that there is a crevasse near Camp 4 because it was there when I climbed K2 in 2018, but I never thought it would be a problem because the Nepalis had gone up to the summit before, right? Also, it seems that Ali, John, and JP managed somehow to cross that crevasse, somewhere…”

Commercial but not guided

There has been debate about the instructions that climbers supposedly received before launching the summit push — if you don’t get so far by such-and-such a time, you must turn back — and whether some of them didn’t pay attention. For Hanna, it was an individual decision based on an honest assessment of conditions and a person’s capabilities.

“To me, it was clear that we signed up for a commercial but non-guided expedition. It was known that everyone should be working independently and making their own decisions. SST gave you forecasts (I had my own, in addition, from home) and that sort of thing, but there is no way that you could get a guided expedition on a winter 8,000’er, least of all on K2. To me, if you sign up for a non-guided expedition, you can’t expect to be guided.

“During our summit push, everybody was going slower than on previous rotations, including Ali and John. I don’t know whether that was due to cold or because we had lost some of our acclimatization, but the fact is, we were all slow. Eventually, some climbers turned around…when they felt it was right.

“To me, everyone should know their own limitations, they should not expect anyone else to tell them when their time is up. Times between camps may be used as a reference, but it’s only logical that if you intend to embark on a 15-hour summit push from Camp 3, you should reach that Camp by 2 pm in order to rest before leaving.

“But when people started reaching C3 at 5, 6, 6:30 pm, and the following stages were delayed too, the decision was obvious. The wind was not going to stay weak for four more hours just because you reached Camp 3 more slowly.

“Some people think that the Sherpas were going to get them to the summit and back, but they are not different from anyone else about getting cold and frostbitten. Some Sherpas had problems trying to get to Camp 3. As I said to Antonios when his Sherpa decided to turn around, if they lose fingers and toes, they are finished, because they won’t be able to work! They’re just human and they must take care of themselves first of all. If the Sherpas continue because their client wants to reach a summit and they get frostbite, then what? The client will go home and not take care of them anymore.

“Some people were really busy with Instagram throughout the expedition and that can be a problem: They are under so much pressure to try and reach the summit, despite conditions and skills. In my opinion, if people had made it to Camp 3 one to two hours earlier and more climbers had headed up on the morning of February 5, there may have been more than three missing climbers by the end of the day.”

Hanna does not have much time for the debate around the Nepali summit and the subsequent lack of information. He thinks they might just be following sponsors’ requirements. He spoke to Sona and Gelje Sherpa back in BC after their summit but recalls no details being shared. “They do not speak that much English,” he points out. “Nothing was discussed when the team returned, and they didn’t remain in BC for long. They came by for my birthday and left the following morning.”

Hanna wonders about all the speculation and questions among the climbing community: “Could it be just jealousy because the Sherpas were the first to summit K2 in winter?”

Future plans

Would Hanna try another winter 8,000’er in the future?

“Yes, if the right team and the right people were going. Maybe Everest, where it is easier to get back down the valley. Also, next month I am going to Everest for what I expect to be my 10th summit, and I’ve always said I would like to try once without O2. Then why not try one more time in winter to make it a dozen?”

As for guided winter expeditions, he does not see something like that catching on in the next few years, although eventually, perhaps, it could be tried “on some of the easier peaks, like Manaslu.”

Manaslu was attempted this winter without success, but according to Hanna, the reason was the huge amount of work required for that small team. “If you have 8 or 10 Sherpas fixing the route, it’s a different story. That was the reason I joined K2, in fact. If it had been a three-person team, I would not have even considered going.”

Hanna has also offered to return to K2 this summer, not for the summit, but to help Sajid Sadpara find the bodies of his father and John Snorri and Juan Pablo Mohr.

“I’ve mentioned to Ali’s friends and Pakistan Climbing Association that I would volunteer if they need experienced climbers to help. But I am not sure how it will be organized, since they said that the local government and the army could be involved.”

+4

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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Michael Henry
Michael Henry
1 month ago

It’s nice to finally hear a little more about this from people who had first hand experience and were actually there.
So much speculation around the Web and as truly nobody knows what happened to the three lost climbers, this account fills a lot of holes in the story.
Ten children left fatherless, I personally think that’s the biggest take away and that’s just from Ali, Jon and Pablo.

+10
Delwyne
Delwyne
1 month ago

Thanks for your attention to detailed facts in this story, Angela and Noel. Absolutely refreshing to hear a first hand account from a seasoned high altitude mountaineer who respects the role personal responsibility plays in decisions, actions and consequences at altitude!

+7
Don Paul
Don Paul
1 month ago

He not only offered to help with the body recovery, but the offer was covered by the BBC. I’m not sure if he would really help, though, considering his perspective on the events and belief in the competence of the seven summits clients. If there are any Urdu speakers still here, this looks like a thorough analysis of what’s known, and according to the comments, controversial. I can’t speak Urdu or understand it. I’m still siding with the Nepalis, who were by far the most competent climbers on the mountain. What Actually Happened With Ali Sadapra At K2? II Who… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Don Paul
Kathill
Kathill
1 month ago
Reply to  Don Paul

Just went through the video…
He is talking about Rotar’s story about him coming across crevasses and slouchy rope across the crevasses, meeting Snorri and Sajid on his way, and Nepalese side of story about how they cross the crevasses. Basically he is retelling Rotar’s interview that was published by Explorersweb few days ago.
He is referring Rotar as European.

+3
Samson Simon Sharaf
27 days ago
Reply to  Kathill

Not much clarifications. Only more confusion he creates with his third person knowledge between crevasse short of Camp 4 and ahead of Camp 4

+1
MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
1 month ago
Reply to  Don Paul

Agree. It’s a strange interview. **Takeaways: Some climbers say Camp 3 was ‘chaos’ but in Hanna’s view it wasn’t that bad. Of course his sherpa set up a tent for him and told him it was ready for him. Unlike the climbers who were outside begging for entry. **Hanna had already decided he was going to descend, so guess it’s not that bad if the tent is crowded with extra people and there is no way to rest or rehydrate. But how about for the Sadparas and Snorri, who did plan to ascend and had to share, out of decency… Read more »

Nat
Nat
1 month ago
Reply to  MuddyBoots

I was confused..not that Hanna isn’t a great sportsman or mountaineer but why mention Manaslu? They clearly have a different style/approach to climbing. Moro & Txikon tried with almost Alpine style, as Hanna is clearly a commercial climber. And the sentence about the tents where he kinda compares it to Everest? You can’t. Other than that I’m sure on ME the tents are surely a wee bit bigger and there aren’t 4-5 people jammed in ,in a 2 mens tent. But I could be wrong. I tried to go trough Alan’s blog for each years teams, but it’s just too… Read more »

Uttam
Uttam
1 month ago
Reply to  Nat

Your wrote: [clip] Moro and Txikon tried with “almost” Alpine style. [clip] Nice to learn that the duo’s style was “almost Alpine style”, whatever that means. You forget to mention that there were four Nepalis in Moro and Txikon’s team – Kalden Sherpa, Cheppal Sherpa, Vinayat Jay Malla, and Tenji Sherpa – in Manaslu this winter per this explorersweb article. The same article reads: “Originally, they [Moro and Txikon] had planned an alpine-style ascent of the mountain on their own, but they changed their mind.” So why do you still insist theirs was Alpine style or “almost Alpine style”, when… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Uttam
Nat
Nat
1 month ago
Reply to  Uttam

I wrote almost Alpine style,cause of the Sherpa support they had, however they did help them fix the ropes and carry loads, they worked as a team. Not waiting on ,quote :”Sherpas fixing my tent”. So Hanna is no commercial climber? Someone who said: he wouldn’t be part of the expedition if he had to do the job himself? So with your twisted logic, someone who requires Sherpas doing the job for them, and fixing the rope, but in his opinion doesn’t have to drag them down the mountain if he faces any difficulties , is no commercial climber than… Read more »

Don Paul
Don Paul
1 month ago
Reply to  Nat

Hanna is a commercial climber, arriving from the hideous Mount Everest scene. It’s so 19th century, having coolies set up your tents for you, and having tea ready at 4:00. The people who do this, including guides, lack basic climbing skills and consistently show poor judgment. They are in an entirely different category from the Nepali team. The Snorri/Sadpara team was somewhere in between.

0
Last edited 1 month ago by Don Paul
Yuriy
Yuriy
1 month ago
Reply to  Don Paul

I beg to disagree. “Hideous ME scene”. It’s Everest, everyone wants to see it. Some climb, some trekk to the BC, others do a flyover. Yes, overcrowded, but if you don’t like the scene, one can always find a lonely mountain to practice almost Alpine, pure alpine or the purest alpine style whatever it means. Mountains don’t belong to professional climbers only or individuals with any specific climbing style. “Poor skills and judgement “. SST clients actually showed very good judgement – they either didn’t even try to summit on Feb 05 or aborted the climb early when realized it… Read more »

MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
1 month ago
Reply to  Don Paul

What is very odd about Hanna is that in this interview he claims SST clients should not expect to be guided even though none of the SST clients criticizing SST on Winter K2 complained about the lack of guiding. But even more contradictory is the fact that Hanna “guided” SST clients on Everest. So clients shouldn’t expect to be guided, but he provides guiding services for SST? Read just the first sentence of the second paragraph in this article: https://irishsevensummits.com/everest-2019-interview/ and this: “Lawless was one of the strongest climbers in the group Hanna was guiding up the Nepalese route, with… Read more »

Uttam
Uttam
1 month ago
Reply to  Nat

Hey look the Sherpa support is not confined to just helping fix the ropes or carrying loads, as you outlined above. They also help clear the way through all that waist-deep snow, help set up a bivoac or pitch tents, cook/serve foods, make deposits at higher camps, help negotiate crevasses and bring everything, including their wastes, back down. As Txikon himself admitted in the past (read here): “The Sherpas are super strong but the climbers are not superheroes, you know.” Don’t you ever forget the “psychological boost” that having Sherpas around also provides: this is “the one elephant in the room”… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Uttam
MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
1 month ago
Reply to  Nat

I think one of the key differences is whether a climber needs sherpa support to do things that they do not have the strength or skills to do on their own (Hanna) or whether they hire sherpas support to extend the manpower of their team (Moro, Txikon). In other words, if Txikon and Moro could be cloned, could they and their clones tackle Manaslu?
It’s pretty clear that Hanna and his clones could not tackle any big mountain on their own. Hanna is really an endurance athlete who has taken these strengths to high mountains. Not a mountaineer.

0
Max Madera
Max Madera
1 month ago
Reply to  Uttam

Uttam: There is a clear difference that mountaineers usually understand. Txikon, Moro and the few sherpa in Manaslu (two of them on a different team that tried fully alpine style) equipped by themselves the mountain and used no O2 in the whole process. This is often regarded as semi-alpine as nobody does full alpine in the higher Himalaya, i.e. without fixing ropes and setting camps. The lack of O2 is basically the only difference with respect to Mingma, Nims, et al. where only Nims did not use O2, but all the others working in the route did. The difference with… Read more »

Uttam
Uttam
1 month ago
Reply to  Max Madera

Max Madera, I’m okay with your qualification that Moro and Tixkon attempted an semi-alpine style ascent on Manaslu this winter. When Nat wrote they were climbing in “almost” Alpine style – which, too me, is a far cry from semi-alpine style – I had to take issue with his mis-characterization.The use of O2 was not the only difference, there was one other too. Tixkon and Moro had ‘sherpa support’ but the Nepali team didn’t, as absurd as this sounds. Let me explain: Mind you the nine Sherpas in the Nepali team had taken off the yoke of ‘sherpas’ when they… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Uttam
Uttam
Uttam
1 month ago
Reply to  Max Madera

Hey Max Madera, good to know that “nobody does full alpine in the higher Himalayas”, as you pointed out. So you are implying that every climb that may have been billed as alpine-style ascent on the higher Himalayas was at best “semi-alpine style,” barring a few exceptions such as Ueli Steck’s rapid style solo alpine attempt on Annapurna I (although he provided no proof that he actually succeeded). Wow great then, I think then there is a new challenge for all alpinists in the world for the next decade or so: to be the first person to climb an eight-thousander… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Uttam
Vincent Krause
Vincent Krause
1 month ago
Reply to  Uttam

If you want to split hairs, Ueli Stecks Annapurna Solo was Not 100% Alpine Style because he had a pre deposited tent on the Route.
Regarding almost Alpine Style on an 8000m peak in Winter it has been doneby Simone Moro and dennis Urubko in the first Winter summit of Makalu, no oxygen, no fixed ropes and only a two person Team to do all the work.
Also Elisabeth Revols Manga Parbat Winter Summit was nearly Alpine Style exept the fact that she and Tomek had a pre deposited tent and shovel.

0
Uttam
Uttam
1 month ago
Reply to  Vincent Krause

Splitting hairs, again. But in spite of depositing a tent en route in advance (I didn’t know about this) and it being not in winter, Ueli Steck’s Alpine solo up Annapurna I rivals Moro and Urubko’s winter ascent of Makalu. Alpine Style of climbing should not seen in isolation, but against a larger context of mountaineering. Style of climbing is not everything, substance matters too: first, Ueli’s was a solo (w/o partner), at least Moro had the comfort of knowing another legend Urubko would lend him an obligatory help, in case something happened to him (or vice versa) on Makalu;… Read more »

Don Paul
Don Paul
1 month ago
Reply to  Uttam

Alpine vs. Sieging Styles explained, by portaledge inventor John Middendorf, on the Grand Voyage: We were climbing in the purest and most committing form: a small team of two, with only six ropes total for climbing and for hauling. Some ascents on the biggest walls of the world have depended on extensive fixed ropes for thousands of feet, enabling the climbers to always have a speedy safety line to the base; this technique seemed too cumbersome and timid to us (also known as sieging). We knew that the next day after climbing a few more pitches we would be committed… Read more »

Uttam
Uttam
1 month ago
Reply to  Don Paul

Thanks, Middendorf’s excerpted explanation helps understand Alpine-style vs. Sieging style to some extent. That part I understand but not ‘semi-Alpine style’ or ‘almost-Alpine style’ – ridiculously vague phrases that some commentators [Max Madera and Nat] have used to describe Tixkon and Moro’s style on Manaslu this winter, which the duo later abandoned due to bad weather. Why would not they accept that Moro and Tixkon’s style was NOT Alpine style, period? Their style also had elements of “siege style” – making deposits in higher camps ahead of their ascent, relying on ropes fixed by others, setting up camp or bivoac… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Uttam
Nat
Nat
1 month ago
Reply to  Uttam

Yet again I NEVER SAID THEY DID IT ALPINE STYLE. You hanging onto words as semy-alpine and almost Alpine. I just explained the same as Max but he chose a better wording. Let it go Uttam

0
Uttam
Uttam
1 month ago
Reply to  Nat

i never said you said they did it alpine style. i said YOU said they did it with ‘almost’ alpine style (pls read your reply addressed to MuddyBoots above). Anyway, as you’ve said let it go, I’ll let it go!

+1
Last edited 1 month ago by Uttam
Vincent Krause
Vincent Krause
1 month ago
Reply to  Uttam

Agree, but de should be to harsh on Simone Moros and Alex Style on Manaslu.
Lets don’t forget that Simone Moro is over 50 years old!! And still fitter that most other People.

To make it clear Moro has to proof nothing to us armchair mountaineers!!
(There was a Trol in the comment Sektion who called Simone Moro out for making selfies etc.)

He is a legend (only Person with 4 Winter 8000er summits) he could just retire and it would be fine but instead he is still following bis dreams in the 8000ers.

0
Uttam
Uttam
1 month ago
Reply to  Vincent Krause

His wife effectively closed the doors to K2 on him – kept him from going after the last prize in high-altitude mountaineering on 8000ers: K2 in winter, which has now been claimed by the Nepali team. Poor chap!

+1
MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
1 month ago
Reply to  Vincent Krause

And there is a troll here as well (not you Vincent, I agree with you).

0
Uttam
Uttam
1 month ago
Reply to  MuddyBoots

Not only a troll, but also a couch potato keyboard warrior-cum-a mole as in a whack-a-mole-game with zero zilch knowledge of mountaineering, even less so of Alpine style of climbing. Hey, that’s me! You apparently have problem with that, me not at all – I’ve owned that label. I seen right through your mask. You got nothing on Mingma G, nothing on SST, nothing on anyone. You don’t even do your homework – spreading lies like Tomaz Rotar had issue with the Mingma of SST, and that Noel Hanna was biased ’cause he once guided for Seven Summits Trek (when… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Uttam
MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
1 month ago
Reply to  MuddyBoots

As to Hanna’s expectations of clients (he is a guide, at least sometime, with SST) on Everest it doesn’t appear that he expects very much experience: Hanna’s Everest pet-hate is poorly prepared climbers not respecting the mountain. He wants to share his wisdom for those looking to take on the unforgiving mountain – less the mountain disrespects them back.  Training on the hills – then climbing another mountain Hanna’s background in running ultra-marathons meant that he was well prepared for taking on Everest. However, he suggests that we don’t all need to be at that fitness level. “If you’re a… Read more »

Don Paul
Don Paul
1 month ago
Reply to  MuddyBoots

This activity is barely even related to climbing. It’s really hiking or trekking. They don’t know how to rock climb, ice climb, place protection, make anchors, tie knots, or say things like “on belay.” They expect their guides to do all the thinking, lead all the pitches, and carry all the gear. In researching other climbs in the K2 vicinity, I was surprised how few ascents the rock faces and towers have had. This valley around Concordia is many times larger than Yosemite with much more rock. Or look at the south face of Lhotse next to Everest, several massive… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Don Paul
Samson Simon Sharaf
27 days ago
Reply to  MuddyBoots

Agree

0
Bilal Shehzad
Bilal Shehzad
1 month ago
Reply to  Don Paul

He is raising questions on Sajid sadpara’s statement that he saw his father and others to reach bottle neck but John’s phone last location showing 7818m not at the location of bottle neck.
He is going to interview Sajid in coming days and arranging his meeting with Sajid and asking if audience wants him to ask specific questions in his coming interview with sajid.

0
Zaff
Zaff
1 month ago

Hanna it’s a great story of courage, attitude and intelligent decision making. You were very lucky, indeed, your right thinking saved you from the fate of your three friends who are lost in the cold
People of Pakistan and families of the climbers are indebted for your offer to comeback for a search mission in the summer this year. God bless Snorr, Mohr and Ali’s soul and their families with peace , God Bless you and your loved ones!

+2
MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
1 month ago

Hanna is planning to climb Everest again this spring. Anyone know if he is using SST for that climb?

0
Magar
Magar
1 month ago

Helps build a clearer image of what really happened on K2 that fateful day. Another first hand expierence that exonerates the Nepalese team, they basically setup almost all the ropes from camp 1 onwards to summit and left behind tents and it still wasn’t enough certain climbers. As if they expected the Sherpas to jumar them up to the summit. I don’t blame Mingma G and Nims for being secretive about their summit push. Too bad there seems to be groups who have already run with the cut ropes and other ridiculous conspiracies. I heard one the other day that… Read more »

Uttam
Uttam
1 month ago

A great interview with Noel Hanna. Straight from the horse’s mouth, as the expression goes. Not at all accusatory like that of Tomaz Rotar, who still has not buried his ice-axe after that aborted K2 Winter 2019/20 expedition. In the meantime, Mingma G has buried his ice axe, not marked the spot, and moved on! Not one to make “a mountain out of a molehill” or “a molehill out of a mountain”, Noel Hanna has shed additional light on the K2 Winter 2021 drama, from his unique perspective, especially on Camp 3 “that” night in February and the fact that… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Uttam
MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
1 month ago
Reply to  Uttam

You are right, Rotar carries a grudge, and that grudge is understandable because he feels misled and ripped off by SST. That doesn’t mean we should dismiss everything Rotar says, just that we need to understand where he is coming from. At least Rotar is honest about his biases. But I worry about the opposite, and hidden, bias with Hanna. Hanna has worked as a guide for SST, and may continue to climb with, or work as guide for them in the future. He has announced that he will be on Everest again this spring. That relationship likely colors his… Read more »

Uttam
Uttam
1 month ago
Reply to  MuddyBoots

Muddyboots, I agree with your take on biases and shit. Maybe the only good thing about biases is we who hold biases will get challenged sooner or later. I am afraid you couldn’t be more wrong when you say that Rotar’s problem is with the Mingma of SST, and not with Mingma G. His problem and mistrust is actually with Mingma G and not with the Mingma of SST. Why would Rotar have a problem with the Mingma of SST? Rotar attempted K2 this winter as a client of SST, and has said afterward, “If you ask me if I… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Uttam
MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
1 month ago
Reply to  Uttam

Oh so sorry, you are correct!! I wish I could correct my post, but can’t seem to edit. It definitely should read “ripped off by Mingma G”. I was trying to keep these Mingma’s straight and instead I got it wrong. Big apologies for the mistake. I still have big issues with how Mingma of SST runs his show. Lots of questions raised about SSTs operations– inexperienced people on expeditions, not turning back obviously weak climbers, the whole medical evac scandals, fake permits, and the botched logistics of K2 Winter. But Rotar’s bad experience with Mingma G. last year. Let… Read more »

Uttam
Uttam
1 month ago
Reply to  MuddyBoots

Muddyboots, sorry I don’t buy your “Rotar was ripped off by Mingma G” allegation at face value.  Noel Hanna has already said 90% of SST’s climbers on K2 this winter had at least six 8000ers under their crampons; even Magdalena, a SST client whom so many unfairly dissed, had 3 eight-thousanders under her belt, one of which was without the use of supplemental oxygen. So your alluding that SST had taken inexperienced climbers on the K2 winter expedition [the implication being that SST will do anything for money] doesn’t really wash, I’m afraid. Sure some guy from Pakistan, I believe it… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Uttam
Paul
Paul
1 month ago
Reply to  Uttam

But Noel lies, only 33% had 6 8000ers (if we count his multiple ascents of Everest); more than 50% had only 3 8000ers in summer on guided climbs so it is obvious that SST had taken inexperienced climbers on the K2 winter expedition for money only.

0
Uttam
Uttam
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul

Who were the inexperienced climbers SST took on K2 – let us know their names, including your reasoning for why each one of them was inexperienced – or not experienced enough – to be on K2?

+2
MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
1 month ago
Reply to  Uttam

Uttam, you don’t have to take my word for it; take Rotar’s. Re-read his interview here a couple weeks ago, which clearly talked to his bad experience last year when he and Snorri were with Mingma G on K2, and the fact that he doesn’t trust Mingma G. Rotar says he clearly feels ripped off, because he talks about not getting any refund for the early “cancellation” of that expedition, under questionable circumstances. I was referring to how these biases and mistrust (some of which could be appropriate given his bad experience) need to be weighed when we considering Rotar’s… Read more »

Uttam
Uttam
1 month ago
Reply to  MuddyBoots

I don’t understand: how can there be a refund for something that was not cancelled?

+3
Tara
Tara
1 month ago
Reply to  Uttam

Some big walls in Himalaya and Karakorum have been climbed alpine style (without fixed ropes and no HAP). Check Piolet d’Or nominees & winners.

0
Noel
Noel
1 month ago
Reply to  MuddyBoots

Hi, Just to clarify some off your untrue comments. Not sure where you get your misinformed information. I do not guide or never have guided for SST. I use their services. The Mingma that Rotar has a problem / mistrust with which you mention is Mingma G that was on the summit of K2 in Jan. If you are a 8000+mt climber you will know that 95% of climbers use Sherpa support. On 5 of my Everest Summits I did not use a Sherpa support on summit day. On K2 just past I climbed with Rotar throughout our climb and… Read more »

Uttam
Uttam
1 month ago
Reply to  Noel

Noel, it is great that you checked the explorersweb’s comments section underneath your interview to clarify any misinformed things some reader(s) might have written about you. I still don’t get why some people make it sound like the semi-alpine style of Txikon and Moro on Manaslu this winter was any better or ‘purer’ than unguided commercial winter attempt on K2 by the likes of JP Mohr and yourself. To take the example of JP Mohr (as I’d been following him more closely than you until he went a-missing), he: was climbing without 02, carrying his own loads, including tent, carrying… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Uttam
Kelly
Kelly
1 month ago
Reply to  Uttam

Let us be precise: 3 Sherpas ,Chhepal, Gelum and Namj

0
Uttam
Uttam
1 month ago
Reply to  Kelly

Kelly, I’m afraid you’ve left out Kalden Sherpa, which makes it four.

+3
Last edited 1 month ago by Uttam
MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
1 month ago
Reply to  Uttam

On K2 the route and the ropes were set either by Sadpara’s team (to Camp 1) or by the Nepali team (beyond Camp 1). So Mohr is a super climber, but he was, as far as we know, using those ropes and following a route set by others. Big difference. It would help to clarify exactly who did what with Txikon and Moro on Manaslu this year, but on past climbs Txikon and his sherpa team-mates (and he made clear that he considered them equal team-mates, not employees) shared route and line-setting and all load-carrying. Txikon was not just following… Read more »

Uttam
Uttam
1 month ago
Reply to  MuddyBoots

Hey, I don’t want to split hairs here. That Txikon and Moro availed of support from 4 or 5 Sherpas is enough for me. Considering the latter “equal team-mates” is a manner of speaking. Txikon means well … but are they really all equal whatever? The US Declaration of Independence reads “All men are created equal”, but are they really? It is an ideal, a beautiful sentiment really but that is all that is. Let me not even get started on the US history of slavery!

+3
Last edited 1 month ago by Uttam
MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
1 month ago
Reply to  Uttam

Well, I actually agree with you on “equal” (and on US history), because if someone is paid, they are not equal in power and decision-making. But the specific question here is one of skills and work-effort. Specifically, on K2 Mohr was climbing on a route set with lines by others. So he was not climbing independently on this climb, he was only climbing without a guide or mountain support from SST. I do think, from what I have read, that Mohr is capable of setting a route, but he didn’t do it this time, at least not up to camp… Read more »

Uttam
Uttam
1 month ago
Reply to  MuddyBoots

Are you saying Txikon et al didn’t use ropes at all on Nanga Parbat Winter 2016 – that they didn’t even fix their own lines anywhere? I don’t believe it! When I said JP Mohr was climbing independently, I meant he was climbing SOLO and making his own decisions. I hope the implication to you is clear: if JP Mohr falls into a crevasse, there is no one to rescue him. Not so with Txikon in Manasulu in winter – with his Sherpas and climbing partner Moro around to lend an obligatory helping hand. Txikon knows “if something happens to… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Uttam
MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
1 month ago
Reply to  Uttam

Uttam, you are confusing several important points. Messner was saying that if SOMEONE ELSE set the lines and you went up those lines you are a tourist. So Mohr and the rest of SST climbers, even those without a guide, are “tourists”. Messner was NOT saying that fixing your own lines for safety as you ascend made you a tourist. Txikon and Sadpara set their own route and lines on Nanga Parbat until Camp 4, by themselves, no Sherpa or HAPs, so they are not tourists. Beyond camp 4 there were no fixed lines. At some point beyond Camp 4–again,… Read more »

Uttam
Uttam
1 month ago
Reply to  MuddyBoots

What was Sadpara to Txikon on Nanga Parbat- if not his sherpa or HAP [if you think they were “equal mates” as in your earlier posting’, you can delude yourself into thinking that?] Ali doesn’t have to be a Sherpa to provide sherpa support to others as a HPA, if you know what I mean. Whether on Manaslu or on Nanga Parbat, Txikon used lines fixed by others (you think Sadpara didn’t fix part of the lines for him on Nanga Parbat too?)….. the very thing Messner decries as being ‘a tourist’. It was not an insult per se, it… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Uttam
MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
1 month ago
Reply to  Noel

Apologies, Noel. I took the info about your guiding on Everest from 2 reports from Ireland, both of which called you a guide for SST. https://irishsevensummits.com/everest-2019-interview/ and https://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/arid-30931009.html These two links were included in other posts. I believe–and still do– that ongoing relationships like this should be included in articles, because it could be a conflict of interest and it could affect how someone sees events they are reporting. I also stand corrected, by Uttam, about confusing Mingma and Mingma G, and although I could not edit that post, I did acknowledge that in my reply to Uttam. I actually… Read more »

Noel
Noel
1 month ago
Reply to  MuddyBoots

Hi, Journalists some times does not get it 100% across right with your interview. I always tell it the way it was and don’t try to fluff it up. Ref: all the people that climb with me. I have either climbed other peaks with them before or have taken them and checked that they have the proper climbing skills – ascending and decending fixed ropes and passing anchors safely / use of crampons / fitness levels. If I am not happy with their capabilities i will not take them. Also I check that they have the proper clothing and gear… Read more »

MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
1 month ago
Reply to  Noel

I certainly understand that journalists can get facts wrong, especially when they are rushing to report disasters. But where would these publications (links above) get the idea that you were guiding for SST that year? The Irish Examiner article is pretty detailed and has lots of quotes. It is unusual for a reporter to make up a relationship where none exists. And if you were guiding on your own, how would Irish Examiner even know about SST, a pretty obscure company in Nepal? Excepts from the Irish Examiner article, https://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/arid-30931009.html: “Lawless was one of the strongest climbers in the group… Read more »

Don Paul
Don Paul
1 month ago
Reply to  MuddyBoots

Why are the guides and guiding companies not legally responsible when their client dies? The clients aren’t climbers, they’re endurance athletes with no idea of the dangers they are even facing. I agree with Messner – those who climb fixed ropes are tourists. And deserve the protection of the law.

0
Jaume
Jaume
1 month ago
Reply to  Don Paul

Well, JP Mohr climbed, in his first 8000s Annapurna, a variant of the normal French route, which involved pitches of 70-degree ice for almost 800 mts, that meant for him a nomination for the Piolet D’or, he was an expert ice climber, and the rest of his eight-thousand always without oxygen and without Sherpas support. In relation to the quality and capacity of the climber, more than the number of mountains summited, the shape and style of climbing is much more important. That is the fundamental thing, how it is done. Neither Sadpara nor Mohr were in any way in… Read more »

Tara
Tara
1 month ago
Reply to  MuddyBoots

No, you are wrong about Rotar and Mingma G. It is the same person who summited K2 this year and was organizing the failed K2 expedition Rotar took part last year.

0
MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
1 month ago
Reply to  Tara

Tara, I corrected that error days ago, but in a reply post. Unfortunately I could not edit the original post. Yes, Rotar and Snorri were with Mingma G. on a Winter K2 expedition last year that was terminated early; Rotar and Snorri accused him of never intending to actually climb but using their expedition $ to do recon on K2 for his own climb this year. Rotar is open about his mistrust of Mingma G. as a result.

0
Bill Bones
1 month ago

The Sherpa’s are the undung heroes of those peaks, he even acknowledged this and said he wouldn’t of even considered going without Sherpa’s going ahead and fixing the ropes,
Im supremely happy The Sherpa People were the first to conquer K2 in Winter

0
Patrick
Patrick
1 month ago

Noel Hannah is neither a qualified nor a certified climbing or mountain guide by any respected organization. He was simply an enthusiastic Everest client that was picked up by the 7 Summit Club Russian commercial company to join their expeditions staff on Everest, probably to draw more non-Russian speaking clients. Mr. Hannah was never a high altitude professional climber before naming himself a “Mountain Guide” (sorry IFMGA, your services are no longer required). Under this Russian commercial agency he bagged most of those Everest summits, repeating the same exact normal routes again and again for years, while trying to brand… Read more »

Paul
Paul
1 month ago

Noel lies. ‘Ninety percent of the people had been on at least six 8,000’ers before’ is not true at all, even not close. From the 20 international climbers only 33% had more than 6 8000ers (in we add Noel and Arnold Coster with the multiple ascents on Everest, otherwise Noel had only two 8000ers). List below: 11 – Sergio Moreno Mingote (Spain) 10 – Atanas Skatov (Bulgaria) 7 – Josette Valloton (switzerland) 6 – Alex Gavan (Romaina) 5 – (Everest and Cho Oyu few tiems) – Arnold Coster (Netherland) 5 – Waldemar Kowalewski (Poland) 5 – Juan Pablo Mohr Prieto (Chile)… Read more »

MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul

And Coster was not climbing, he was co-managing from base camp

0
Samson Simon Sharaf
27 days ago

Mountaineering is replete with controversies more so K2. Remember the abandonment in 1939, The ordeal of George Bell carried on back my Muhamad Hussain, and the heroic return and then the Italian selfish summit in 1954. Tough conditions create mental besides physical and physiological exhaustion. Strange things happen. Commercial guides have an economic interest for future ventures and bound by these to be tight lipped. No one has mentioned Fazal a Pakistani guide and 3 times summiteer of K2 who was with Elia at Japanese Camp 3. But at the end of the day, the only witness beyond Camp 4… Read more »