Karakorum Winter Season Ends; K2 Aftermath Continues

Winter climbing has ended in Pakistan, but the echoes of this unprecedented season continue to reverberate.

Forecasts of wind and heavy snowfall have prompted the Polish team on Laila Peak to pack up their Base Camp a little early. Avalanche danger aborted their summit push yesterday, and conditions are not going to improve before meteorological winter ends in eight days.

Meanwhile, locals lit up the streets of Skardu with candles at sunset yesterday as a  tribute to new national hero Muhammad Ali Sadpara, as well as to John Snorri and Juan Pablo Mohr. All three were officially declared dead two days ago.

Gilgit-Baltistan authorities have promised that Ali Sadpara’s legacy will never be forgotten. They are naming Skardu Airport and the city’s military school after him and have announced support for his family and home village. The region’s minister, Raja Nasir Ali Khan, also had kind words for Sajid Sadpara. “The courage shown by this gentleman, waiting alone at high altitude for long hours in bone-freezing cold, then descending all alone with sad feelings, is unprecedented,” Khan said. “He is a hero.”

Juan Pablo Mohr’s relatives came all the way from Chile to hold a tribute ceremony of their own just outside town. Tamara Lunger, who had stayed in Skardu, joined them.

JP Mohr's family came from Chile to Pakistan to pay tribute

Tamara Lunger and JP Mohr’s family pay tribute to the deceased climber. Photo: Tamara Lunger


Search to light up the dark sides of the story

The survivors are back at home, letting the bitter or sweet experience sink in. The successful Nepali summiters, who all work in the mountain tourism industry, have finished their celebrations and are now focusing on the upcoming spring season.

Information about the climb itself is still surprisingly thin. Mingma G is has provided some details during media interviews. In his own article, he also gives details of the first stages of the summit climb, including the secret agreement to join forces with Nirmal Purja and SST’s Sona Sherpa to form an all-Nepali team. He describes the first part of the summit climb, in particular how they managed to skirt a wide crevasse before the Bottleneck. Climbers who went up two weeks later, including Snorri, Mohr, and the Sadparas, were not informed of this obstacle or the way around it, sources have told ExplorersWeb.

We have heard no details about the Bottleneck, the traverse, and the final sections. Nor is it clear how some managed to wait a considerable time for others at -45ºC in order to step together on the summit. No group picture confirms that all 10 were up there.

Mingma David shared a photo, below, on Instagram recently, showing young Gelje Sherpa on the Shoulder, 150 to 200m below the Bottleneck.

Approaching the Bottleneck on K2

Gelje Sherpa approaches the Bottleneck on K2. Photo: Mingma David Sherpa


Gelje is clipped to a yellow rope, which confirms that ropes were fixed on the way up (along the entire route, Nirmal Purja has said). Some days ago, Nazir Sabir of Pakistan openly accused the summiters of retrieving ropes as they descended, and Magdalena Gorzkowska of Poland confirmed the competition/tension by reporting that the Sherpas said that “If someone followed them during the summit push, they would cut the ropes because they wanted the summit only for themselves.” Here is the video in Polish.

Meanwhile, the Seven Summit Treks clients are digesting the events on K2 themselves, especially the traumatic arrival at Camp 3. Two climbers were severely frostbitten, and one of them is still in the hospital. Their stories are filling some gaps, but opening new questions.

ExplorersWeb sent questions to both Mingma G and Chhang Dawa Sherpa a week ago. We will publish their answers if they reply. We will also be publishing interviews with expedition members in the coming days. Sadly, five climbers will never be able to tell their stories.