Winter 8,000m Update: Urubko and Bowie Push Up Broad Peak

Don Bowie has just posted a picture where, for a change, he smiles on a sunny Broad Peak slope — without gloves! But why so happy? “Because the weather seems to be opening a little, and we are heading up in the morning to work the route again and… and… and maybe see if the summit winds abate enough to take a shot at going all the way,” he says. Later, in one of his laconic texts, Denis Urubko confirmed their plans: “I am ready to work on the route and reach the summit.”

A couple of days ago, the pair speed climbed up to 6,800m and back in a single day, taking advantage of a short break in the winds. That last trip completed their acclimatization. They are now off to the summit, while we bite our nails for two days, which is the time that they warned it will take until they report back.

The International Winter K2 Expedition arrived in Base Camp last week. Photo: John Snorri


Things are not looking quite as bright on neighboring K2. Said Mingma G, somewhat peculiarly, “K2 in winter is not like what we expected. It is extremely cold and windy.”

In practical terms, their sleeping bags are frozen, their clothes can’t get dry and the Sherpa leader’s satphone refuses to work. Nevertheless, he still set off for a first night at Camp 1 and to fix the route to Camp 2 the following day.

A later report confirmed that Mingma, Kili Pemba Sherpa and Sarbaz Khan endured a frosty night between -32ºC and -39ºC in Camp 1 yesterday. Today, they keep fixing the route above. According to member John Snorri, the team previously carried 250kg up to Camp 1 through a rather tricky icefall, where they had to fix some lines in order to cross safely. “The mountain is covered in blue ice,” Snorri said.

Jost Kobusch has been rather bored in Everest Base Camp. Photo: @terragraphy


On Everest, Jost Kobusch has been champing at the bit to leave Base camp. “I actually wanted to leave Thursday, but I simply have too many ants in my pants and left today,” he wrote, before heading back up toward the Lho La and the West Ridge.

On his previous venture, 100km winds flattened him, ripped his Camp 1 tent and caused part of the descent route to collapse, leading to a nailbiting down-climb. He eventually reached Base Camp in one piece but needed days to recover. It seems that now he’s feeling well (and restless) again. However, he didn’t mention how far he expects to reach.

When Kobusch returns, he may find Base Camp a little less boring, or at least, less lonely. A Sherpa team working for Alex Txikon has reached the foot of the mountain, where they have set up their own Base Camp. Tomorrow, a caravan of yaks will carry loads from Ama Dablam, where summiters Txikon and Jonatan Garcia will remain until next weekend, recovering their strength and hoping that good weather will allow their mates to summit. Txikon is prepared to go up again to assist them.

Alex Txikon & Co. fixing the route above Camp 3 on Ama Dablam. Photo: Alex Txikon


Txikon’s team fixed the entire route from bottom to top and left climbing gear in Camp 1, to help the potential second summiters in their large Spanish team. It is also good news for Hungarians Zoltán Szlankó and Alex Goldfarb: They climbed Lobuche East on January 25 and intend to go for Ama Dablam next.

On Everest, the Spaniards may share some conversation with Kobusch, but not the route, since they will follow the usual way through the Khumbu icefall and up the South Col, without supplementary O2.

There’s also news on the two teams currently training for winter K2 next year. The large Polish team has reached Base Camp at the foot of Batura Sar and will start working on the route right away, while the Winter Snow Leopard team from Russia and Kyrgyzstan is ready to launch their summit bid on Ismail Somoni (formerly Peak Communism).