Summer 2016 Wrap Up: Summarizing Karakoram Season

Summer 2016 marks the return of summer climbing to Nanga Parbat and an ever increasing interest of commercial expeditions on K2. Despite fewer summits this year, all teams returned home safe and alive.

Summer 2016 climbing season basically ended few weeks ago, but a new route attempt on Gasherbrum I SW Face kept the action rolling for a bit longer. With Czech climbers already back from mountains, it’s time to formally wrap up the season. Summer 2016 marks the return of summer climbing to Nanga Parbat and an ever increasing interest of commercial expeditions on K2. Despite fewer summits this year, all teams returned home safe and alive.

There were more than a hundred climbers on K2 this season. However, lack of summit window and an avalanche sweeping away summit-push gear from C3 meant no summits on the mountain, for yet another year.

Nanga Parbat
Two small and independent teams attempted Messner-Messner-Eisendle-Tomaseth 2000 route on North Face of Nanga Parbat. Bad weather forced the international team to retreat from 7800m (just below North summit) on summit day. They intended to retrace Buhl’s 1953 route in final sections to Main summit.

Few days later, two Bulgarian climbers, who climbed North Face and then traversed to Kinshofer route above C4, were on summit push. But they couldn’t identify the correct gulley which was to lead them above Bahzin Basin to the top.

Meanwhile, progress on Kinshofer route remained slow due to difficult ice conditions below Kinshofer Wall. Eventually, when a summit window opened in late July only three climbers, Ferran Latorre, Boyan Petrov and Helias Millerioux, who were previously on North Face side, were able to reach the summit via Kinshofer route.

Broad Peak
Slovenians Aleš Česen and Luka Lindič summited Broad Peak in second week of July, as a part of acclimatization for Gasherbrum IV. Even on Broad Peak, they didn’t fix any ropes or establish any camps.

Contrarily, other teams on the mountain couldn’t manage their resources to timely fix the route and camps for summit push when weather window arrived later in July. Spanish climber Oscar Cadiach, with only Broad Peak missing from his 14x8000ers quest, made a couple of summit attempts but couldn’t go beyond 7800m.

Gasherbrum I
Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, leader of Dreamers Destination expedition, led eight climbers to GI summit on August 4th. The team had moved to GI just a week earlier, after their K2 expedition was thwarted by mega avalanche.

Previously, a Polish team, which had planned GI-GII traverse but eventually settled for GI, was unable to make significant progress due to bad weather and difficult climbing conditions.

Czech climbers Marek Holecek and Ondra Mandula acclimatized to 7500m on GI normal route and then launched summit-push on Southwest Face in alpine style on August 9th. They faced bad weather throughout the ascent and were at 7700m when it became clear that they could not go any further. However, they remained holed up on the mountain for several more days, before making it back to BC on 22nd.

Gasherbrum II
Bad weather and difficult conditions meant that majority of GII climbers were unable to go for summit, this season. However, a group of eight climbers summited the mountain on July 26th.

The biggest success story of the season, perhaps, have been the fourth ascent of G-IV NW Ridge by Aleš Česen and Luka Lindič. The two climbers intended to climb the West Face of mountain, however, weather window was too short for such an attempt. They switched to NW ridge and reached G-IV North Summit on July 26th.

Away from Karakoram, French alpinists Jérôme Chazelas and Thomas Quillet summitedTirich Mir (7708) in alpine style. “Alpine style, without oxygen or fixed ropes. Ascent by the Czech route 1967. Also climbed Dir Gol Zom (6800m) and Ghul Laszt Zom (6600m, stop at 6300m) for acclimatization. First ascent since 2001. The itinerary followed between C3 and C4 might be new. No signs of previous ascent of this route variation. We followed the snow slopes straight into the middle of the face into a mixed section (30m), then back to the left on a snow patch, and a final short mixed section to the ridge leading to the summit. Alone in the whole range for the first 3 weeks. A party of Russians arrived to the BC while we were descending. Almost no gear on the route, old rotten fixed ropes and few pitons between C3 and C4.” Thomas Quillet mentioned in his log at Peakware.

Ralf Dujmovits and Nancy Hansen unsuccessfully attempted two unclimbed seven-thousanders, Gasherbrum VI and Praqpa Ri, this season. On G-VI, they were stopped by a difficult rock barrier at 6400m, while Praqpa Ri attempt was thwarted at around 6300m by bad route conditions.

Lack of adequate summit-window also haunted the Muztagh Tower team. Felix Berg and Matthias König acclimatized on nearby peaks, while reached around 6000m on SE Ridge of the mountain in a short good weather break.

Finally, Thomas Huber is returning to Latok I (7145m) for a late summer attempt on North Face of mountain. The German climber survived a 16m fall from a rock face on July 5th, while working on filming project. The Latok I attempt didn’t seem realistic at that time. “He recovered so “incredibly fast” that he – as initially planned before his fall – will shortly go “with incredible joy” on expedition to Pakistan.” Stefan Nestler commented.

8000m Summit Stats:
K2: 0
Nanga Parbat: 3
GI: 8
Broad Peak: 2
GII: 8