Winter 8,000’ers, Updated: Summit Action Brewing

Update: Denis Urubko was originally determined not to waste the next weather window and head for the summit directly from BC. But today, January 24, he admitted that the route wasn’t quite ready and they need to make one more trip to 7,000m first.

The winds remain high on Everest and the temperatures low in the Karakorum. Welcome to winter. Climbers shelter as best they can in their thin fabric tents, but soon they’ll be on the move.


Jost Kobusch is in Base Camp after his latest venture to his Camp 1 on the Lho La, and a new section climbed along the West Ridge. Kobusch is now completely on his own, after photographer Daniel Hug departed earlier this week for the heat and bustle of Kathmandu.

While Kobusch’s climb isn’t properly alpine style, because of several climbs to Camp 1 and to the lower sections of the West Ridge, the picture below gives some idea of the enormity of the goal he has set. Before leaving, Kobusch told ExplorersWeb that he wanted to go as far as possible and learn from the experience, and actually reaching the summit on the first try would be a bonus. But as we can see, he is dealing with some highly exposed sections and unknown conditions.

Jost Kobusch is the almost-invisible dot on the huge snowy face, as photographed by Daniel Hug during his helicopter ride back to Kathmandu. Photo: @terragraphy


Spain’s Alex Txikon, currently attempting Everest himself by the normal route, expressed concerns about Kobusch because of the huge crevasses and the difficult sections above 7,000m, as he approaches the traverse leading to the Hornbein Couloir.

However, others were wondering earlier how he planned to deal with the Khumbu Icefall by himself and were then surprised by Kobusch’s ingenuity: He picked an alternate route to the Lho La pass in order to access to the West Ridge from its beginning, thereby circumventing the Icefall. So what we have is a young, strong, extremely driven climber ready to think out of the box.

Time will tell whether that will be enough. He has a long way to go, and conditions are far from welcoming. According to pictures sent by Alex Txikon’s team from nearby Ama Dablam, a long plume of windswept snow currently envelops the Everest pyramid. It looks like the last place anyone would like to be right now.

Everest lurks behind the plume of windswept snow. Photo: Road to Himalaya expedition


Speaking of Txikon, he is currently in Camp 2 together with Jonatan García and Nepalis Cheppal Sherpa, Pasang Sherpa and Kalden Sherpa. They plan to leave tomorrow. The wind should decrease throughout the day, and they are aiming either to reach Camp 3…or maybe further. You heard it here first.


Mingma G’s team had a tough time reaching Base Camp through thigh-deep snow. They finally reached the foot of K2 and took a rest day before continuing to Advanced Base Camp tomorrow. According to John Snorri, their main task is to find a safe route through the glacier.

Broad Peak

On Broad Peak, Denis Urubko and Don Bowie climbed 2,000 vertical metres on very hard ice for a “training trip”, until increasing winds eventually pushed the climbers back down. Together with Lotta Hintsa, they’ve spent three days at altitude and set up Camp 2 earlier this week.

As for his half-plan to give winter K2 a try immediately afterwards, Urubko just happened to go “for a walk” on Wednesday to near K2, just in time to welcome Mingma G’s team as they arrived, and perhaps to check out the peak’s condition.

The Karakorum spreads out below the feet of Denis Urubko, near Camp 2 on Broad Peak. Photo: Don Bowie