Purja to Try Winter K2? Here’s Alex Txikon’s Take

Barely back home, and one leg shy of completing his stunning attempt to climb all 14 of the 8,000m peaks in just seven months, Nirmal Purja and his home team have tentatively announced a juicy new challenge: Winter K2.

“The only problem for me would be the funding,” he said today on his Facebook page.

Winter K2 veteran Alex Txikon is spending the summer on the perfect grey limestone of Picos de Europa, an hour drive from his home in northern Spain. Despite a poor cell connection, Txikon managed to send ExWeb some voice messages.

“Wow, after completing this mega-project, will he really be willing to go back to K2?” Txikon exclaimed.

The Basque climber was impressed by something Messner said: How Purja had quit his military career and mortgaged his house to pursue this project and his guiding business. “I thought he would just enjoy the success and recognition and use it to focus on his professional future.”

Basque climber Alex Txikon on winter K2

Alex Txikon during his latest venture on winter K2. Photo: Alex Txikon

He added:

“Yeah, it’s also true that first of all he needs to complete his current quest, but given the incredible strength and speed with which he has climbed all these peaks  — 11 8000’ers in four months, for God’s sake! — I believe that the most difficult part of the last leg will be getting the permits,” he said. “At his pace, he’ll have plenty of time for the three peaks left.”

In fact, Purja previously revealed that lack of funding and “some bigger issues” also jeopardized the just-finished second leg of his project. He mentioned logistics as an added difficulty. Of the three remaining peaks, Manaslu should be no problem, but Cho Oyu and Shishapangma are both located in Tibet. Airlifts are not available in that area, although there is a good network of roads.

What does Txikon think of Purja and winter K2? “Well, if he went and we decided to go there again as well, we would definitely talk and discuss details.”

Clearly, Purja’s reputation has soared from fit peakbagger to serious powerhouse after his recent leadership on K2. Txikon shares the general amazement at Purja’s strength and speed, and respects his decision to do this project in the style that he has chosen, with support and oxygen.

“From a strictly personal point of view, I believe that in the 21st century, true excellence on 8000’ers occurs without supplementary oxygen,” says Txikon. “But hey, there is his next challenge: all 14 8000’ers in one year, but without bottled O2. Something like that would really be worth seeing.”