K2: First Injuries, One Evacuation

Injuries are already taking their toll on winter K2. Some Sherpas returned from the higher camps with frostbite, according to Sergi Mingote, who didn’t name the injured men or say whether they will continue with the expedition. Meanwhile, Polish climber Waldemar Kowalewski will be evacuated by helicopter tomorrow because of a hernia that developed during a load-carrying trip to Advanced Base Camp.

This is the second time that Kowalewski has attempted K2 in winter, and both times his expedition ended early and abruptly from injuries. In winter 2018-19, he was hit by chunk of ice on his way to Camp 1.

Meanwhile, Magdalena Gorzkowska — who was last reported in Camp 1 — and at least three Sherpas from STT intended to set off on January 1 toward Camp 4. Tonight, she has camped on a flat spot just below House’s Chimney at 6,550m, on the way to Camp 2. “The view is breathtaking,” she reports. “For now, we are trying to make the most of the weather, which is expected to [worsen] on January 5.”

Other climbers were supposed to follow Gorzkowska yesterday, but stronger-than-expected winds kept Mingote and his group in BC. According to Mingote’s tracker, however, he did leave today, and by early afternoon local time, he was at 5,400m on his way to Camp 1.

Italian Mattia Conte has discarded the notion of a fast summit push, at least for himself. “This is a long survival race,” he wrote. “We need at least a long rotation to Camp 2  and Camp 3, and if possible, a second round [before a summit push].”

Nirmal Purja.


Nirmal Purja: a stern taskmaster

Nirmal Purja made what he called a “super tough decision” to let his team relax a little and even party on New Year’s Eve. They were just back from their first rotation and needed rest, but Purja felt that they should also take advantage of the still-decent weather to acclimatize. He reports that today, January 2, is “a perfect summit morning” and he is heading up again.

Other 8,000’ers: 

Alex Txikon and his team are currently quarantining in Kathmandu for five days before a second PCR test will let them proceed toward Manaslu. Simone Moro is expected to arrive today.

Alex Goldfarb and Zoltán Slankó are finally together in Skardu and ready to start the drive to Jhola. They expect to reach Broad Peak Base Camp in about four days.

Angela Benavides is a journalist specialised on high-altitude mountaineer and expedition news working with ExplorersWeb.com.

Angela Benavides has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of national and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporates, press manager and communication executive, radio reporter and anchorwoman, etc. Experience in Education: Researcher at Spain’s National University for Distance Learning on the European Commission-funded ECO Learning Project; experience in teaching ELE (Spanish as a Second Language) and transcultural training for expats living in Spain.

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Steve Jones
1 year ago

Thanks for the updates from K2. It would be a shame if details of the history of the mountain are lost by uncorrected errors or creeping changes to the nomenclature. It’s probably a translating issue from Magdalena Gorzkowska’s Polish report but “the House Chimney” has been called “House’s Chimney” for more than eighty years. It is named after Bill House who made its first ascent on the 1938 American K2 Expedition, led by Charlie Houston. This expedition pioneered the Abruzzi Spur route but didn’t summit.

Jerry Kobalenko
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jones

Thanks for your comment. You’re right about the ‘s, and we’ve corrected it.