The New York Times Takes A Look at Climbing K2 in Winter.

It’s not often that mountaineering gets good coverage by the mainstream media, let along the paper of record. But, this past weekend, The New York Times took an in-depth look at what it takes to climb K2, the second highest mountain on the planet, during the winter – something that has yet to be accomplished.

The story in The Times introduces readers to a team of Polish climbers who are preparing to take on “the world’s most lethal mountain” this coming winter. The story does a good job of not only providing readers with a sense of history for Polish winter climbing in the Himalaya, but also the sense of pride and accomplishment that has come along with the impressive feats that those climbers have accomplished in the past. For them, there is only one big challenge yet to be conquered during the coldest months of the year, and that’s K2.

Readers get a sense of what it is like to climb a major Himalayan peak during the winter months, when cold conditions and howling winds can leave alpinists stuck inside their tents for days on end, waiting for a proper weather window just to go out and acclimatize, let alone make a summit push. It is a harsh and unforgiving environment that has crushed the dreams of many climbing teams, and has left far too many men and women dead in its wake. Add that to the fact that K2 is already one of the most difficult and dangerous mountains on the planet, and you begin to understand why it is such a crazy endeavor.

The New York Times story is quite extensive, and an excellent read for those of us who already have a sense of what it takes to climb a big mountain in winter as well as those being introduced to the concept for the very first time. I’m sure more than a few readers were left wondering why anyone would want to do this at all, but if you read this blog with any kind of regularity, chances are you’ve already moved beyond that question.

Winter is still quite a few months off yet, so its hard to think about it too much at the moment. But, it will also be here before we know it, and the Polish team is busy preparing, plotting, and training to get ready. Once they get underway, you can bet we’ll be following their progress closely. Until then, you’ll just have to read the article to get ready for the challenge they face.

Autor : Kraig Becker

* source: – The New York Times Takes A Look at Climbing K2 in Winter

** see also: – Polish famous climbers – The golden decade of Polish Himalayan mountaineering.

 

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Himalaya Spring 2017: It’s Finally Go Time on Everest.

After years of planning, months of preparation and training, and weeks of acclimatizing and waiting, it’s now starting to look like it is time to climb on Everest. The teams on both the North and South Sides of the mountain have been patiently watching the weather forecasts for the past week or so, and conditions are starting to finally come around. But the weather windows look tight, so squads are setting off now to get themselves into position for the summit push to come.

If you’ve been following the season closely, and you thought to yourself that the weather seems odd this year, you’re not alone. In fact, Alan Arnette has written an article on that very subject, quoting meteorologist Michael Fagin of Everest Weather who has described conditions this year as the most difficult to forecast in the 14 years he’s been predicting weather in the Himalaya. He also indicated that the forecast models have often changed ever 12 hours, which is why it has been so difficult to nail down a good window to launch summit bids.

But, things are changing, and there does seem to be a two short periods of stability about to arrive. The first should take place on May 18-21 – essentially today through Sunday, and then again from May 23-25, which is the middle of next week. The teams on the mountain are now scrambling to take advantage of these calmer days ahead.

Amongst them is the IMG squad, which sent their first wave of climbers up yesterday. They’re expected to reach Camp 2 today, and if everything goes according to schedule, they should be ready to summit over the weekend. But, the team’s guides are keeping a close eye on conditions to determine the right time to climb. They also have two other waves of climbers waiting for their turn, with another one likely to set out today.

Joining IMG will be the Mountain Professionals who also set out yesterday, along with on the South Side, along with the 7 Summits Club and Summit Club on the North Side. Others are sure to join in on the fun too, while some are likely to hold off and wait for the second window to open early next week.
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Himalaya Spring 2017: First Summits of Lhotse, South African Climber Detained.

We’ll start the day with yet another update on the current climbing scene in the Himalaya, where things are now quickly coming to a head. On Everest, the teams are now eyeing a weekend summit push, but elsewhere there is plenty to report as well.

We’ll start on Lhotse, the fourth highest mountain on the planet and the closest neighbor to Everest. Yesterday, a team of Sherpa’s completed fixing ropes to the summit of the mountain, becoming the first people to stand on top of that peak in three years. According to The Himalayan Times, that group consisted of Tshering Pemba Sherpa, Temba Bhote, Phurba Wangdi Sherpa, and Jangbu Sherpa, along with a few others, were amongst those who installed the lines and made the push to the top. They’ve now cleared the way for others to follow, with about 100 climbers expected to make the attempt in the days ahead.
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Himalaya Spring 2017: More Summits on Everest, Dhualagiri, and Makalu.

With mid-May finally here, the pace of climbing has definitely started to pick up in the Himalaya. The season will start to grow short soon, and in just a few weeks it will close down altogether. With that in mind, teams are on the move all over the region, with more than a few now finding success on their respective mountains.

Yesterday we reported that the route to the top of Mt. Everest from the South Side had opened after the rope fixing team took advantage of a small weather window to finish installing the lines to the summit. We also knew that a few foreign climbers followed closely behind but just how many remained a bit of a mystery. Today, The Himalayan Times reports that at least 35 other climbers summited Everest in the wake of the rope fixing team, with some of the most prepared and eager mountaineers also taking advantage of the weather window. The group of summiteers was a mix of both foreign climbers and Sherpa guides. With the weather window now closing, they are all descending back to Base Camp today.

Most of the teams are now in Base Camp and eyeing the forecast, which calls for higher winds over the next few days. But, as we inch closer to the weekend, conditions are expected to improve and another weather window is expected to open. Look for a major push on both sides of Everest to begin on Wednesday or Thursday of this week, with climbers looking to top out over the weekend. We’re in the final stages of the season now, but there is a lot of work to be done before we’re through.
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Himalaya Spring 2017: Ropes Fixed on Everest North Side, Nine Sherpas Reach Summit.

More news from the Himalaya this morning (May 11, 2017), where we’ve learned that rope fixing efforts on the North Side of Everest are now complete. According to The Himalayan Times, nine Sherpas from Kathmandu-based Arun Treks recorded the first summits of the season at 4:30 PM local time today.

This news means that climbers on the Tibetan side of the mountain can now begin planning their summit window, as the weather is reportedly quite good there at the moment. Whether or not that forecast will hold long enough for teams to make their push to the top remains to be seen, but the route is now open and ready to go. Eager climbers will now wrap up their acclimatization efforts and starting looking for the proper timing, with the first commercial summits possibly coming as soon as early next week.

Meanwhile, on the South Side of Everest the story is a completely different one. Yesterday, the rope fixing team descended to Camp 2 to rest and avoid incoming poor weather conditions. The upper flanks of the mountain are reportedly very windy at the moment, delaying all efforts to install the fixed lines above the Balcony. The Times indicates that efforts to finish installing the ropes are now delayed until early next week while the Sherpas rest and wait for better conditions.

If the ropes are installed as planned, expect the first commercial summits from that side of the mountain to occur not long after. By now, the teams have mostly wrapped up their acclimatization rotations, and are heading back to BC to wait for conditions to improve. When that happens, they’ll be ready to head up, with mass summits likely coming within a day or two of the ropes being fixed.

For now, the spring season is still proceeding as expected with only a slight delay in the schedule. If a proper weather window doesn’t open however, things could get very interesting. With mid-May quickly approaching, and the summer monsoon now just a few weeks off, persistently poor weather conditions could make reaching the summit a real challenge. That isn’t likely to happen of course, but Mother Nature is fickle, and the weather always decided when climbers can go up.

We’ll continue to keep an eye on things and report any changes as they occur. For now though, it looks like the North Side climbers can start planning their summit bids, while those on the South Side will have to continue to wait.

Autor : Kraig Becker

* source: – Himalaya Spring 2017: Ropes Fixed on Everest North Side, Nine Sherpas Reach Summit

** see also: –

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Himalaya Spring 2017: Rope Fixing Team Retreats on Everest, Kilian Speed Climbs Cho You.

Just a quick update from Everest today, as it seems that the rope fixing team on the South Side was forced to retreat to Camp 2 yesterday before reaching the summit. Reportedly the weather there is quite good, and should remain so for the next several days, but heavy snow on the upper slopes of the mountain have made the process of installing the lines on the mountain more time consuming and exhausting than expected. As a result, the Sherpa team was able to add to the route yesterday, extending it up above the balcony, but after spending several days above 8000 meters (26,200 ft), the squad simply had to descend to regain their strength and get some much deserved rest.

This delay in getting the ropes into place will likely cause the teams that are currently at or above C2 to retreat to Base Camp as well and wait for the work to be completed. Most of the climbers are now fully acclimatized and are simply waiting for the lines to be installed and a proper weather window. Once access to the summit is granted, there is likely to be a mad dash for the summit, provided the weather allows.

Reports indicate that there is plenty of snow on the upper flanks of Everest this year, which is welcome news for the climbers. Most would rather climb on snow and ice rather than bare rock, and it seems that will be the case this season. Not only is it easier to make the ascent over the more technical sections of the climb, it is also safer too. Often the wind clears the snow from the upper sections of the mountain, but this year it looks like it will remain.

So what does this mean for the climbing schedule? It now looks like the ropes won’t be fixed until late this week, which means summits attempts will be pushed into next week. The forecast continues to look good, although winds do pick up some over the next couple of days. If everything holds however, we can now expect possible summits by next week this time, although even that could fluctuate some. So far, everything is still going as schedule, and nothing is really out of the ordinary, but until the rope fixing is completed, the teams remain in a holding pattern.
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Video: From Base Camp to The Summit of Everest in 3D.

In just a few days time, dozens of teams of climbers will launch their summit bids on Mt. Everest. If you’ve ever wondered what the path to the top looks like, this video will give you an idea of what they’ll be climbing and hiking over in the days ahead. Made with Google Earth, it gives us a 3D view of the South Side of Everest in Nepal, taking us from Base Camp to the summit along the way.

Autor : Kraig Becker

* source: – Video: From Base Camp to The Summit of Everest in 3D

** see also: – https://himalman.wordpress.com/category/video/

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