Adam Bielecki: Winter is the New Spring

K2 Winter Himalaya
Adam Bielecki. Photo: Instagram

Since shattering his heel during a moment’s inattention last autumn, Adam Bielecki has quietly focused on recovering. Rumors that he was in Pakistan began to swirl recently when his name showed up on the climbing permit of a large Polish team now on its way to Batura Shar.

“I considered joining that expedition, but it proved too soon for my leg,” Bielecki told ExplorersWeb. “I’m feeling better now, and the heel is responding well, so hopefully I’ll be able to climb later this winter closer to home, in the Tatras or the Alps.”

Bielecki declined to say whether he would be disappointed if winter K2 was finally climbed this season by a team relying on supplementary O2. But he did share his thoughts about the future of winter climbing. Bielecki sees the winter as the new spring, because of the effects of climate change.

“We must redefine our concept of the climbing seasons,” he said. “Let’s be realistic: it’s getting too hot in summer in the Karakorum, so winter expeditions might become the new norm. That’s what happened in the Alps: No one climbs the big routes on the Matterhorn or the Eiger in summer any more. It’s simply too dangerous. You want to go when it’s cold and the terrain is more stable.”

Last summer’s Karakorum experiences support Bielecki’s argument. Unstable snow conditions at the Bottleneck thwarted large numbers of climbers on K2. After temperatures decreased, a second wave of climbers eventually succeeded.

Meanwhile, the Gasherbrum Glacier devolved from a straightforward walk to Camp 1 to a dangerous traverse among crevasses and soft, slushy snow. Sergi Mingote had a close scrape when he fell into a crevasse. Two teams failed to summit because, one might say, the weather was simply too good. Several experts canvassed about climate change in a previous article agreed with Bielecki’s assessment.

Currently, outfitters are still running their guided Himalayan climbs at the same time as they always have. But over the next few years, they may be forced to follow the examples of Denis Urubko, Simone Moro and Alex Txikon and reschedule their season for December and January, when it’s colder but safer.

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🇵🇱 Dni restowe są najbardziej niebezpieczne 🤣 Chwila nieuwagi wystarczyła abym w prostym terenie skręcił prawą kostkę i tak niefortunnie spadł na kamień, że paskudnie połamałem lewą piętę. Teraz czekają mnie długie tygodnie rehabilitacji i ostre sesje na drążku i kampusie bo przecież górę mam wciąż sprawną 😉 Pamiętajcie – "gdyby kózka nie skakała to by nudne życie miała"✌ 🇬🇧 Rest days are the most dangerous ones 🤣 Just a split second of lost concentration resulted in falling on my legs so unluckily that I twisted my right ankle and badly broke my left heel. Now long weeks of rehabilitation awaits me but also long sessions on my pull-up bar and campus because upper part of my body is still ok 😉 Remember – "No risk – no fun, no pain – no gain"✌

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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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2 years ago

Winter is awfully cold and dangerous for climbing in the Great Ranges. I’m not sure what he’s thinking. Bielecki knows this personally, having seen two of his three companions die on on their first winter ascent with him on Broad Peak.