K2: Away They Go…But Lunger Descending?

K2 climbers have already snatched a few slim hours of rest in their tents, and their big day to the summit of K2 began an hour ago, in the black moonlessness. The decreasing half-moon rises around midnight, so for the first two or three hours, they will have nothing but starlight and headlamps.

Contrary to summer expeditions, where climbers typically set up a Camp 4 at nearly 8,000m, the climbers are beginning from Camp 3, at 7,300m. These include Antonios Sykaris; Colin O’Brady with Ming Temba and Lhakpa Temba; Tomaz Rotar and Pasang Dukpa; Noel Hanna and Temba Bhote; and Atanas Skatov and Dendi Sherpa. According to his tracker, John Snorri and the Sadparas reached the spot after 6 pm today, so they have made at most a couple of hours’ rest.

Juan Pablo Mohr and Tamara Lunger are nearby. An unconfirmed report by La Gazzetta dello Sport states that Tamara Lunger may be descending. More on this to come. Climbers were to leave at 9 pm local time (11 am Eastern Time, 4 pm GMT) so we can now begin to monitor their trackers.

Slightly above 7,000m, all trackers showing weird waypoints and inaccuracies, likely due to difficulties connecting with the satellites.


Only one climber has allowed himself no break. Pasang Norbu Sherpa hit 7,350m at 7 pm, past everyone else’s tent, on his attempt to speed from Base Camp to the summit in under 24 hours. From BC, overall leader Dawa Sherpa insists that Norbu is not trying to compete against anyone, such as the late Benoit Chamoux, the current record holder, who did it in 23 hours in 1986 without supplementary oxygen. Dawa’s no-competition statement makes sense since speed records cannot really be assessed under one standard.

The highly experienced Norbu has climbed alone, at a tremendously fast pace. Should he reach the summit, achieving a non-stop climb of K2 in winter, it would be a remarkable, perhaps even historic, achievement to rival the one by his fellow Nepalis three weeks ago.