K2 Gamble: Mingote and Mohr Move Up As Weather Worsens

Most climbers are on the way down or are already back in BC, as the rising wind worsens the already bitter cold. They all report difficult conditions and deteriorating weather.

Yet Sergi Mingote has kept moving upward. He climbed heavily loaded for nine hours to Camp 1 on January 2 and then had a hard time pitching his tent in the screaming wind. Once inside, he and Juan Pablo Mohr had no energy left to melt snow and simply crawled into their bags but didn’t sleep, as the wind rattled their tent all night.

On January 3, with poor visibility but less wind, they stayed in Camp 1 for another night to catch up on their rest. Then today, despite increasing winds and a bad forecast, Mingote and Mohr pushed on to Camp 2, where they are now camped for the night, according to Mingote’s tracker.

On the way up, at a vertical section of blue ice, they crossed paths with John Snorri and the Sadparas. “There is no one up there, the wind is very strong and has broken several tents — we’re going down!” Ali Sadpara shouted.

Nevertheless, Mingote and Mohr reached C2 at 6,547m, at the foot of House’s Chimney after four-and-a-half hours. Their climb included some very technical sections, made even harder by the wind. “The tent needed some fixing and lots of struggle to get in,” Mingote said. “Now I am inside the tent, with all my clothes on, trying to get the feeling in my fingers back.”

Tomorrow, Mingote says, they will return to Base Camp. “The cold paralyzes you to the brain!” said Mingote. “Both JP and I are fine. Tired…exhausted…but happy to be in one of the most incredible places on earth.” If the forecasts are right, Mingote and Mohr had better hurry.

Carlos Garranzo, feeling better after acclimatization problems and a stomach bug, moved up to Camp 1 but is expected to return to BC shortly, along with everyone else.

All down: STT’s warmly clad rope fixers, safely back from the Black Pyramid.


Meanwhile, Seven Summit Treks’ rope-fixing team has made it back to BC after two nights at 7,050m at the Black Pyramid, waiting out strong winds. “Unfortunately, they were not able to fix higher and were forced down in the deteriorating weather,” said Dawa Sherpa. “However, they left enough rope and oxygen for the next opportunity.”

Magdalena Gorzkowska on the move.


The difficulties are not even comparable to anything else

Magdalena Gorzkowska and Oswaldo Pereira, along with two Sherpas, were the first STT clients to reach Camp 2 and spend a night there, after five days up the mountain. Gorzkowska returned to BC yesterday after a night in C1, a second one at 6,550m, and a failed attempt to reach Camp 3, but with a graphic description of the challenges ahead:

“It was exactly as I expected,” she said. “Extremely hard, cold, windy, and a few kilometres of abyss below us. Relentless 45 to 60 degrees steep route, calves on fire and no possible rest, stones and chunks of ice constantly falling. The difficulties are not even comparable to anything else.”

Waldemar Kowalewski was airlifted from Base Camp today. Photo: Arnold Coster


In Base Camp, Waldemar Kowalewski was finally evacuated, despite violent gusts of wind that complicated the helicopter pickup. It turns out that his hernia was a pre-existing condition, according to Dawa Sherpa. “In civilization, this is a minor medical problem,” said Dawa, “but up here it means you need to leave.”