Artur Hajzer, live from winter GI: "One month in BC is nothing"

Artur Hajzer, live from winter GI: "One month in BC is nothing"

Posted: Feb 23, 2012 02:27 am EST

(Angela Benavides) The storm hitting the Karakoram is developing into a full-force hurricane. Winds over 100km/h are destroying tents and keeping the climbers wide awake all night. "Right now we are facing a hurricane in BC - sleeping is not an option, since we're busy protecting our mess tent; that is why you got my answer so promptly," wrote Artur Hajzer late night yesterday, in response to our request for interview.

Just like Gerfried Goschl did yesterday, the Polish winter GI team leader shares with ExWeb his plans and hopes, but also his vast experience on winter 80000ers and a few ideas out of the box - such as that Simone & Denis should change citizenship.

ExplorersWeb: How are you guys feeling? It's been over a month there, how are team spirits?

Artur: We are well. I am lucky to have two very good partners: Janusz Golab (a seasoned big wall winter climber,) and Adam Bielecki (my summit partner from Makalu). They are both self-motivated, technically skilled climbers. Agnieszka Bielecka is providing good support in Base Camp and further up. The team spirit is therefore very good, and I am really optimistic about the expedition's next steps on the mountain. One month is too short to lose motivation and hope, especially for me - as you know I am used to stay in BC for up to 3 months.

ExplorersWeb: How is everyone's health? You had a pretty tough descent from C3...

Artur: One of our 2 HAPS has frostbitten toes. The injuries are not dangerous, but still he can not continue climbing. All other members of the expedition are fine.

ExplorersWeb: Anything you could tell us about your strategy for the summit push (once the weather improves)?

Artur: Our third camp (assuming it still exists), is not high enough (7,040 m) so the plan is to move it higher up - at least to 7200m. For the summit bid we will probably go in a team of 4 (us 3 Poles and Shaheen Baig). We want to climb traditionally, from one camp to the other. We will probably be forced to climb up to 7000 m in bad weather conditions in order to take advantage of the best possible conditions for the summit day. In winter, it is very rare to get more than two consecutive days of acceptable weather for a summit push.

ExplorersWeb: As a highly experienced team leader - what are you proud of, about your team's performance? What do you reckon is the hardest part of a winter 8000er expedition?

Artur: There are quite a few things I'm proud of in this expedition. The most important being:
- Our good logistics
- Our timing strategy (not starting too early)
- Our equipment (until now, without fault)
- The support of Polish Alpine Association, and our strategic sponsor Orlen (Polish oil company)
- The perfect BC cooperation with Gerfried's International Team.

ExplorersWeb: Any thoughts about the other winter teams who were forced to abandon this season?

Artur: The news about the death of the Russian team member took us by surprise and was very depressing. It made our climbing much more difficult.

Moreover, I was not exactly elated to have so many expeditions in Karrakorum this winter, mainly because it creates a competition factor, which I don't like at all. With only two expeditions left in the range, much of this pressure is gone.

Simone and Denis make such a fantastic and strong team, which has had a lot of successes, so I think that one retreat this winter won't make a big difference for them. I might add that Nanga Parbat is an incredible difficult winter goal for a 2-people team. I was impressed when I knew they were going to give it a try. I would like to remind as well that our mountain of choice this winter was Broad Peak, but since Simone declared last winter (during our last days of BP expedition 2011), that he would have liked to go there, we left it free for him. Now, I would like to state that the Polish Alpine Association will attempt to climb Broad Peak in winter 2012/2013.

Regarding the Polish climbers on Nanga Parbat, they are not associated with Polish Alpine Assoc. and are neither known among the Polish climbing community. I am not aware of their skills and experience, so I would rather avoid commenting on them.

ExplorersWeb: Speaking of Russians, some have said that the Russians are the only ones capable of bagging winter K2. Do you agree? How about you guys?

Artur: It seems that, with modern technology, K2 is a mountain impossible to climb in winter without oxygen. Of course, it is our dream to do it, and we plan to attempt climbing K2 in winter someday, but not within the next 3-4 years. Unless, that is, Denis Urubko decides to change his nationality and become a Pole! Simone is also invited to do so :-)

Seriously speaking though: I think that Russians have the same problem as Polish - they lack a next generation of talented high altitude climbers.

Expedition update

Currently the Polish are struggling to keep their BC standing, and hope for better weather by Feb 25-28.

This video shows Agnieska and Shaim Bahig carrying gear up the icefall last week.

Links to 2012 winter GI teams:

Polish GI winter team
Alex Txikon
Gerfried Göschl
Cedric Halen
Carlos Suarez blog

#Mountaineering #topstory #interview

Artur Hajzer in C2, winter GI normal route.
Image by Adam Bielecki courtesy Polish winter GI expedition 2012, SOURCE
Janusz and Artur in C2.
Image by Adam Bielecki courtesy Polish winter GI expedition 2012, SOURCE
Artur Hajzer, bathed and shaved.
Image by Agnieszka Bielecka courtesy Polish winter GI expedition 2012, SOURCE
Same guy, different outfit. Bielecki in camp 3 on Gasherbrum 1, shooting a pic of himself. This winter the Poles will attempt Broad Peak.
Image by Adam Bielecki courtesy Polish winter GI expedition 2012, SOURCE
Agnieszka (Agna), Adam's sister, carrying loads on GI. Only months later, she is part of the current summit attempt on Lhotse.
Image by Shaheen Baig courtesy Polish winter GI expedition 2012, SOURCE