Alex Txikon live from winter Gasherbrum I: fighting boredom while 'Mother of All Storms' approaches

Alex Txikon live from winter Gasherbrum I: fighting boredom while 'Mother of All Storms' approaches

Posted: Feb 20, 2012 02:17 pm EST

(Angela Benavides) A super-storm is expected to hit the mountain today and both teams on Gasherbrum I have spent the weekend tying down tents in BC.

The bad weather is predicted to rage all week long and the waiting game is getting harder on the tired and weather-battered men in Gerfried Göschl's team. Every time his oldest daughter asks when is he FINALLY coming home, Gerfried says he feels a punch in his stomach. "We're ready for a summit push, most of the steepest sections are fixed, and we make a great team... but forecasts sow no good weather until March!" he spills out.

The key to fight boredom and negative thoughts is to keep busy, Alex Txikon told ExplorersWeb straight from base.

ExplorersWeb: This is your second winter expedition, has experience been good or had it been better not to know what was coming?

Alex: It's good to know what to expect. Although this winter is turning out much harder than 2011 - except for the first 10 days, which were amazing. And toughing it through the winter season gets harder and harder each day no matter how experienced you are.

ExplorersWeb: It's a first for Carlos Suarez, how's he doing on his winter 8000 experience?

Alex: A bit harder than he had expected, hehe... He is doing an excellent job though, eager to do his very best at every task.

ExplorersWeb: After so many weeks and yet another storm, any doubts? What do you miss most?

Alex: The thing is that, no matter how hard conditions are or how bad weather turns, I try to convince myself that I don't miss anything. Most important is to keep busy, to avoid getting bored. In this sense I must say that I'm doing okay. I seem to be good at keeping myself entertained. Yesterday, as an example, Carlos and I went to visit the nearby military camp for the night - it was cool to meet new people, talk about new things etc.

Anyway, all members in the team are feeling strong and ready to jump up on the hill as soon as better weather comes around.

Explorersweb: You've climbed on GI both in summer and winter, except for the cold how different is the winter experience from the summer season?

Alex: For me, the essential difference between summer and winter is not cold, but the sense of isolation. You get to feel completely alone. Also, winter is harder, logistically much more complicated and definitely more expensive. Oh, and the light is different.

ExplorersWeb: Climbers have left Nanga and K2 and you're the last men standing. Do you feel any pressure and how does it feel to see them going home?

Alex: Honestly, I don't feel under pressure at all. We hope the weather will improve. If it does, we will try. If it stays bad until the end of the season, there'll be nothing we can do about it, so Inshallah, we'll try again the next winter. As for now, we all believe in and pray for the best.

Word from GI normal route

Ready for a summit push the new weather forecast is trying also on the Polish team, already battered after a recent descent from C3 in a gale.

"We have established camp 3 and we are ready for summit attempt," they reported. "However, we've been sitting in BC for 7 days already due to bad weather conditions - and now a fresh forecast announces more unfavourable conditions for yet another 7 days... Conditions are unlikely to change till the end of February. We have to shield ourselves with patience – which is not easy – and wait this situation through."

Ed. note weather update: Monday morning, the expected super-storm had not yet fully hit Gasherbrum BC. Alex Txikon reported high winds, but not yet hurricane-force.

Winter 2012 GI teams:

Polish GI winter team
Alex Txikon
Gerfried Göschl

Alex Txikon, back in BC.
Image by Alex Txikon courtesy Alex Txikon, SOURCE
Carlos Suarez living it up in winter Karakoram with a shower in BC.
Image by Alex Txikon courtesy Alex Txikon, SOURCE
Ropes fixed on GI south wall.
Image by Alex Txikon courtesy Alex Txikon, SOURCE