Winter Annapurna: Txikon Team Speeds Toward Camp 3

Seizing advantage of stable weather, the Winter Annapurna climbers have not wasted a single minute, even for celebrating Christmas. At this pace, they may summit and be down in time for New Year.

Eneko puts large chunks of sauce-covered meat (lamb?) on a tray in BC, obverved by two sherpas.

Eneko Garamendi, the cook on all Txikon’s winter expeditions over the last few years, prepares Christmas Eve supper for those still in Annapurna Base Camp. The climbers were already on the mountain. Photo: @navamuel.andres


Alex Txikon and his team arrived in Base Camp on Dec. 23 and set off for Camp 1 the following morning.

A zoom photo of tents on a ridge, compiled on a larger image of the mountain's lower sections.

Camp 1 on Winter Annapurna. Photos: @navamuel.andres

Above Camp 2 today

Yesterday, Dec. 25, they moved up the glacier and set Camp 2 at 5,600m, Txikon’s home team reported. They were heavily loaded and had to work hard to break trail through three sections of deep snow.

An "X" marks a point on Annapurna's normal route, indicating Camp 2.

Approximate location of Txikon’s Camp 2. Photo: @navamuel.andres


Txikon noted conditions are otherwise good if somewhat windy. Today, they are fixing ropes toward Camp 3.

The section between Camp 2 and Camp 3, through a maze of seracs and exposed to avalanches from above, is the most technical and dangerous on Annapurna’s normal route. It was here that Indian climber Anurag Maloo fell into a crevasse and was miraculously rescued last spring.

They may reach Camp 3 today. Usually, climbers then return to Base Camp to rest and gather the gear and supplies needed to install Camp 4 and launch a summit push. However, in an interview with the Spanish paper Marca two days ago, Txikon said, “A summit push during the last week of December is an option.”

The Basque climber wants to be fast because he is concerned that conditions may deteriorate in January.

Txikon holds an orange tent canvas, dressed in a heavy coat, and a mainly rocky face behind him.

Alex Txikon sets up a tent in Base Camp last weekend. @navamuel.andres

Ready for the summit?

A summit push is possible, but it would require them to rely on the supplies, ropes, and supplementary O2 they have already carried up.

The good news is that at 8,091m, Annapurna is a “low” 8,000’er. Sherpas usually turn on their oxygen above 7,000m, but they might try to do without this time. Alex Txikon has never used supplementary O2 on his climbs in either summer or winter.

They would have to trust their brief acclimatization from their days on Chulu Far East. The team didn’t reach the 6,019m summit because of high winds, but Txikon hopes they got high enough to be ready for Annapurna.

A powdery avalanche in the shape of a while cloud touched the ground after falling down the mainly rocky face.

A Facebook reel shows an avalanche sweeping down Annapurna’s lower slopes yesterday. Frame from a video by @navamuel.andres


Also, with the peak so dry, there might be sections of hard ice that will require fixing. However, it is unclear how much rope they have, unless they use old ropes from last spring. There were no expeditions to Annapurna this past fall.

The same goes for Camp 4: They might try to move at least some of the tents higher up from Camp 1 or 2. Or they could decide to skip that camp completely if they’re feeling very strong. But in winter, with days so short, having a tent in place at Camp 4 is an important backup.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.