Winter K2: Artem Braun Says It’s Now or Never

K2 Mountain
Artem Braun Winter K2 2019
Artem Braun, organizer of Winter K2 expedition, with the peak in background. Photo: RussianClimb

After many headaches and uncertainties, the winter K2 expedition is ready to start climbing in January, according to organizer Artem Braun. Porters reached Base Camp last weekend, the preliminary permit fees have been paid and the final multinational team — from Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan — is in place. Before heading off to the Karakorum, Braun spoke to ExplorersWeb:

EW: How are the preparations going?

AB: Everyone is looking forward to setting off. As for logistics, well, there are so many issues to worry about that I have the feeling that we have are already started the expedition.

EW: Why have all the attempts to summit K2 in winter been unsuccessful? Is there something that has to be done differently?

AB: In winter especially, a lot of things are determined by weather and luck. Several times, the teams had the desire and fitness, but all roads to the top remained closed.

EW: Adam Bielecki said recently that no one can summit K2 in winter on their first attempt, but chances increase on the second try. Do you agree?

AB: I repeat: It’s all about weather and luck. I can’t argue with Adam, but the fact is, I personally have never have tried winter K2 before. On the other hand, one member of the team will be on his seventh(!) visit to the mountain, so what does that mean regarding our chances?

K2 team leader Vassily Pivtsov.

Organizer Artem Braun

EW: Are you intending to do something differently than the Polish team that tried earlier this year?

AB: First, since everything is so difficult, you need to follow the classic route. Second, it takes a team of fighters to tackle such challenge. And considering how many obstacles we’ve had to overcome just to launch this expedition, we are determined to give it 100 percent, because we will not get a second chance.

EW: Big teams are notoriously complicated to manage. What is the key to holding the team together?

AB: First of all, we are all friends. We’ve climbed together a lot and we are comfortable with each other. There are people in our team in whom I believe more than in myself. Second, we all originally came from the same country [the Soviet Union], where nationality played no role. You could say that we all share the same climbing nationality.

EW: Will you use bottled O2?

AB: No. We’ll only have emergency supplies.

EW: In your opinion, is this all about success or failure? In other words, summit equals success and no summit equals failure, or is it more complicated than that?

AB: Of course, everyone wants to succeed. The main thing is deriving satisfaction from  work done … [and] building memories that will stay with you forever.

EW: Are there a lot of expectations among the countries involved, or is the attention  focused on other sports?

AB: There is absolutely no attention paid to our expedition. A lot of people try to help us, but almost all of them are climbers. Clearly, we have a lot of work still to do there. We really need more public support because we are trying to achieve the impossible, or at least what has proven impossible so far. So, hey, follow us: we’re on Instagram at @winterk2exp2019

Expedition updates on RussianClimb

Previous link: Teams Prep for Winter K2


About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!

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3 years ago


Will C.
Will C.
3 years ago

Hmmm…..I wonder if these guys even considered inviting Denis Urubko. He is a Kazak after all. Has his reputation been tarnished because of the fiasco on K2 last winter? Best of luck to these guys, but without Denis, I don’t think they stand a chance.

3 years ago

I am so crazy to go k2.i have a dream go to k2 base camp at least but i have not money for my passion.but i will pray that Allah will help me to complete my dearm.if some body help me i will be great favour for me

Nick R.
Nick R.
3 years ago

Braun is right that tremendous luck with the conditions is the final piece to the puzzle of success on a winter K2 expedition. Obviously elite skill is required also — you don’t even get the opportunity at K2 in even the “optimal” climbing season if you’re not elite, much less winter on that mountain. But the conditions are so horrific there in winter…you may as well be on one of the moons of Jupiter. It’s going to take a borderline miraculous window of extremely rare “good” weather for a team to be able to summit this mountain in its most… Read more »