Winter 8,000’ers: Progress Sputters Due to Cold and Deep Snow

The difference between easy spring days in the busy Himalaya and the hardships of winter for solo climbers and small teams on huge, ice-covered peaks became clearer than ever in the last few days. Extreme cold, much colder than usual for January, continues to envelop the Himalaya. In Gilgit-Baltistan, avalanches claimed a number of victims, while 109 people have perished so far from cold, according to Dawn news. In Nepal, four South Korean and three Nepali trekkers were buried under five meters of snow in an avalanche on the popular Annapurna Circuit. Alex Txikon, currently on his third winter Everest expedition, had snow for the first time on the trail from Namche Bazaar.

After their close call, Tamara Lunger (left) and Simone Moro wave goodbye to Gasherbrum I. Photo: The Vertical Eye/Matteo Pavana


After their serious brush with a crevasse on Saturday, Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger were airlifted back to Skardu yesterday. Their expedition is over but at least they survived. In Skardu, they may have crossed paths with the large Polish team on their way to Batura Sar.

Meanwhile, Minga G and his winter K2 team passed through Skardu a week ago. This is the last we’ve heard from them. They intended to drive to Askole and trek to Base Camp beginning January 13, although the relentless snowfall and certain problems with the porters may have delayed them.

Denis Urubko, Don Bowie and Lotta Hintsa are back in Base Camp after some exhausting work on Broad Peak. What in summer is a rather straightforward snow route becomes a rock-hard ice slope in winter. The climbers have had to fight metre by metre to fix rope and rip the old ones away from the ice, while standing for hours in the bitter cold on the front points of their crampons. On their last outing, Urubko and Bowie spent one night in Camp 1 and two nights in Camp 2, and managed to fix part of the route to Camp 3. Now, bad weather will ground them back in Base Camp for at least a couple of days.

Don Bowie fixes the route to Camp 2 on Broad Peak. Photo: Denis Urubko


Bad weather is pending tomorrow in the Nepal Himalaya as well. Jost Kobusch used the few previous good days to reach Camp 1 at the Lho La pass. He timed his departure from Base Camp in order to climb a huge serac when it was already dark and the temperatures low. “The ascent took 10 hours in total, nonstop, solo,” the German reported. He planned to rest there at 6,060m for a day, then continue up toward Camp 2 today via a new route.

On Ama Dablam, Kobusch’s future Everest Base Camp neighbor Alex Txikon has celebrated the puja ceremony before starting to acclimatize on Ama Dablam. Weather permitting, he intends to set off for Camp 1 and possibly Camp 2 on Wednesday.