Trango Towers: Shipton Spire Team Loses One Member

Marcin Tomaszewski has arrived in Pakistan, ready to tackle Shipton Spire in winter conditions. But he has already lost part of his team.

At the Berlin airport, Pawel Haldas didn’t have all his COVID paperwork and couldn’t board the plane.

“When we found out about it, we only had two hours before departure,” Tomaszewski wrote on social media. He and Damian Bielecki, the third member of the team, hurried to redistribute some of the vital gear in Haldas’s luggage. Then the two of them boarded “with a lump in the throat and a feeling of collapse”.

Haldas has no time to get his paperwork in order and board another plane, so the team will have to do without him. “Postponing the expedition to next year is not an option,” said a still shocked Tomaszewski. “So here we are in Skardu, getting ready for tomorrow’s journey into the mountains.”

Edu Marin shared this photo from high on ‘Eternal Flame’, Nameless Tower, on Facebook yesterday. It shows what climbing is like in the Trango Towers in summer. No one has attempted to climb here in December before. Photo: Edu Marin.


No further contact

Given the unexpected reduction in manpower, Tomaszewski and Bielecki are not entirely positive about the outcome of the expedition. For now, they want to trek to the Trango Towers, set up Base Camp, then decide what to do next. “We have a lot of thinking ahead of us: Our original plan has broken, so we’ll need to create a new one.”

The Polish climbers also warned that they will not post updates while in the Karakorum. “We’re cutting ourselves off from the world, disappearing into the frozen mountains,” they said. They will be alone in every way since no other team is coming to the Trango Towers at this forbidding time of year.

The nearest people might be the porters trudging to K2 Base Camp. They are carrying supplies for Nepal’s Dolma Expedition team and lone client Grace Tseng. Neither the Nepali outfitter nor Pakistani agencies listed other expedition members, besides Tseng herself.

Tseng last posted on Instagram two days ago, still at home and using a hypobaric chamber to speed up acclimatization.

Grace Tseng trains in a hypobaric chamber before tackling K2 this winter. Photo: Grace Tseng