Summit Pushes on K2 and Cho Oyu In Dire Conditions

Gelje Sherpa’s team on Cho Oyu and Grace Tseng’s on K2 and have set off toward the summit in far-from-ideal conditions. They still have a lot of rope to fix, but both parties realize that as far as this winter is concerned, it’s now or never.

Gelje Sherpa reported yesterday from Camp 1 about the new variation that his team is opening.

“The wind is blowing at 90kph here,” he wrote. “In spite of it, we plan to move higher, [with] the whole team of 10 climbers.”

The climbers have managed to reach 6,340m (Camp 2?) today. In a remarkably bold move, they plan to go for the summit on Monday, February 21.

Lakpa Dendi’s tracker today at 16:45 Nepal time today. Gelje Sherpa’s tracker showed a similar altitude.

The team’s route will take them over the highly difficult East Ridge on their way to the summit, and conditions are not going to make that any easier.

“The weather seems tricky, [but] on February 21, there may be some hours of less wind above 7,500m,” Gelje reported. “We are [waiting] for those few hours in the morning to make the final summit push.”

Nepali climbers crossing the glacier toward the col between Cho Oyu and Tenzing Peak and the East Ridge. Their line will be very difficult and exposed, because of rotten rock and a vertical, 70m crack above 8,000m. Photo: Gelje Sherpa

About the tracker controversy

Both Gelje Sherpa and Lakpa Dendi are carrying InReach devices, but until recently, the tracker information was not public. On the team’s latest rotation, Gelje posted some screenshots on social media with confusing altitude data. From Kathmandu, Alex Txikon told ExplorersWeb that he had access to both trackers.

“No one manipulated the pictures or the data,” Txikon said. “Rather, there was an error in the measurements from Gelje’s device.”

It seems that one waypoint showed 7,400m in error, while others nearby registered 7,200m — the maximum altitude reported by Lakpa Dendi. Gelje’s team in Kathmandu feeding his Instagram may have accidentally used the wrong reading.

The crew at Racetracker told Explorersweb that InReach devices are very accurate when properly positioned, but they may give inaccurate readings if carried under several layers of clothing, or especially if the device sits upside down in a pocket or backpack.

Other people besides Txikon now have access to the trackers, including ExplorersWeb, so we should now be able to follow the climbers’ progress live.

To Camp 3 and beyond on K2

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, outfitter Summit Karakoram has confirmed that the K2 team left for Camp 1 this morning, on a last-ditch summit attempt.

“Camp 3 is already fixed and probably our team will progress further,” the outfitter wrote. “We can say it is the summit push.”

Nima Gyalzen Sherpa, climbing leader on the current K2 winter expedition, after his latest trip up the mountain. Photo: Dolma Outdoor/Summit Karakoram