Winter Everest and K2 – Progress on K2.

Shattered tents at Camp 2 on K2

With good weather, the Polish K2 team established their highest point yet this season while the Everest team is forced to sit at base camp waiting for lower winds.

See this post for full background on the K2 and Everest expeditions and the history of winter attempts on the highest two mountains on Earth. Both expeditions need to summit no later than the spring equinox on March 20, 2018, at 0:15 PKT for K2 and 18:00 NPT for Everest to meet a winter summit definition.

Winter K2 – Pushing Hard

The Polish team are enjoying low winds for a change but expect high winds to return on 25 February according to this interview with expedition leader Krzysztof Wielicki. He noted that the temperatures are higher, approx. -13 ° C in the shade, before it was below -20 ° C. They must be feeling great with all the team climbing, the route getting set, camps established. Their patience is paying off.

Today, Sunday 18 February 2018, Adam Bielecki and Denis Urubko were reported to have climbed House’s Chimney to Camp 2 near 22,110’/6700m. They used the ropes that were placed last summer. They will spend the night just below the Chimney as it is at the base of a large wall (hence the Chimney) and blocks the strong winds that usually shatter Camp 2 (see image at top of post from 2014). Tomorrow, they will climb the Black Pyramid in hopes of establishing  Camp 3 at 23,760’/7200m on this rotation. The other climbers, Marek Chmielarski, and Janusz Golab are either at Camp 1 or 2 with the intention of climbing higher and Artur Malek and Maciej Bedrejczuk returning to base camp.

K2 routes

K2 Routes: Abruzzi and Česen

Meanwhile in an excellent demonstration of respecting the mountain, Wielicki sent the Pakistani High Altitude Porters back up the Česen ridge to remove ropes and tents. Well done!

You can follow them directly on their website, Facebook, and SPOT tracker

.. more on : – http://www.alanarnette.com/blog

Autor : Alan Arnette

* source: –   Progress on K2

** see also: – National Polish Winter K2 Expedition.

– Winter Manifesto of Krzysztof Wielicki – Manifest zimowy Krzysztofa Wielickiego /Version polish and english/

Nanga Parbat: 1 Saved, 1 Lost and the Spirit of Mountaineering is Strong.

Tomek Mackiewicz Perhises on Nanga Parbat Following Heroic Rescue Attempt.

Krzysztof Wielicki : Wyścig ze śmiercią – akcja ratunkowa na K2, Netia K2 Polish Winter Expedition (2003/2004).

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Winter Everest and K2 – Can They Summit?

K2 Winter base camp 2018

With about one month to go before the end of winter, it may be time to wonder if either team will make their winter summit. There was talk of a 20 February summit push but the winds seem still too high, however the forecast is improving.

See this post for full background on the K2 and Everest expeditions and the history of winter attempts on the highest two mountains on Earth. Both expeditions need to summit no later than the spring equinox on March 20, 2018, at 0:15 PKT for K2 and 18:00 NPT for Everest to meet a winter summit definition.

The Big Picture

Climbing these peaks in the winter is all about weather, specifically cold and wind, wind, wind. Both the K2 and Everest teams are coping with the cold but when the wind gusts over 40mph/65kph it gets virtually impossible. All the climbers have the skills, are strong and experienced so their capabilities are not in question. But even the strongest person cannot withstand 100mph wind gusts.

On Everest the Jet-stream sits on the summit for most of the year only relenting in late May and again in early October. Most summit pushes require a minimum of four days from base camp. On Everest, an extremely aggressive schedule would breakout like this:

  1. EBC – C2 at 21,000’/6400m
  2. C2 – C3 at 23,500’/7162m  or South Col at 26,300’/8016m
  3. Summit Bid at 29,035′ / 8850m
  4. Back to C2
  5. Back to EBC

They could climb in high winds through the Icefall but probably not above C3 around 23,500’/7162m. They did have fixed ropes almost to the South Col, but that was a couple of weeks ago and they could be buried under new snow or frozen in since then.

On K2, it is a similar schedule. They have reached C2 at 22,110’/6700m but have no ropes through the Black Pyramid or above. With the icy conditions, I would assume they want to put the ropes in before or during a summit push. They have found old ropes but it is exhausting and time consuming to chop them out of the ice. Their schedule might be:

  1. K2BC – C2 at 22,110’/6700m
  2. C2 – C4 at 25,080’/7600m
  3. Summit Bid at 28,251’/8611m
  4. Back to C2
  5. Back to K2BC

Winter K2 – Pushing Hard

The Polish team continues to push, even in high winds knowing the clock is ticking. Marek Chmielarski and Artur Małek reached Camp 1 and Saturday, 17 February 2018,  Janusz Gołąb, Maciej Bedrejczuk, Denis Urubko and Adam Bielecki (who was injured by rockfall, is returning to the climb) will leave K2BC. This is the most climbers they have had on K2 this season suggesting they are pushing hard to acclimatize in anticipation of a summit window. There does appear to be reasonable winds up to the 8,000-meter level for the next week.

Denis Urubko chopping out old rope on K2 courtesy of russianClimb.com

Denis Urubko chopping out old rope on K2 courtesy of russianClimb.com

Rafał Fronia, who had his arm broken by rockfall, is back home in Poland and did a radio interview. The money quote was :

If people are acclimatized and will weather window, the chance is one hundred percent. In contrast, if you run any factor, because we do not know what will happen, well, the chances are zero. This is a good team of good people who can climb and they will come up on this, but under some circumstances.

Thanks to Altitude Pakistan, this is a brief summary of the previous attempts:

During the first winter attempt in 1987/88,  the team noted that they only had 10 days of good weather during their three months expedition. Krzysztof Wielicki, the leader today, was a climber on that expedition. They didn’t reach C3 on the Abruzzi until March 6th and then harsh winds stopped them almost killing two of the climbers with severe frostbite.

The next attempt in 2002/3 was lead by Wielicki and attempted the North Pillar. It was a team of climbers from Poland, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Georgia – they didn’t get along. Denis Urubko was also on this effort and stayed with the team after others left. Marcin Kaczkan and Urubko were the only climbers to attempt the summit on 25 February but Kaczkan developed HACE and they abandoned the attempt and the expedition.

In 2010/11 a Russian team reached 7,000-meters at the end of January by the Abruzzi but again high winds forced a retreat, then one member died at base camp and the effort was called-off.

So, as you can see these winter attempts are a huge gamble, complete with deaths. They rush to establish the route during brief periods of suitable weather but spend most of their time waiting at base camp. When they do go for the summit, it has been the winds and illness that have stopped them. Of course both Urubko and Wielicki know this well as they were there.

You can follow them directly on their website, Facebook, and SPOT tracker.

.. more on : – http://www.alanarnette.com/blog

Autor : Alan Arnette

* source: –  Winter Everest and K2 – Can They Summit?

** see also: – National Polish Winter K2 Expedition.

– Winter Manifesto of Krzysztof Wielicki – Manifest zimowy Krzysztofa Wielickiego /Version polish and english/

Nanga Parbat: 1 Saved, 1 Lost and the Spirit of Mountaineering is Strong.

Tomek Mackiewicz Perhises on Nanga Parbat Following Heroic Rescue Attempt.

Krzysztof Wielicki : Wyścig ze śmiercią – akcja ratunkowa na K2, Netia K2 Polish Winter Expedition (2003/2004).

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Winter Climbs 2018: Is it Almost Go Time on Everest?

Since our last update on the winter climbs there hasn’t been a whole lot of progress, but the future schedule is starting to become a bit clearer. Meanwhile, over on K2, things remain contentious, with one member of the team clearly unhappy with the current situation.

We’ll start in Nepal, where Alex Txikon and his team have been relaxing and waiting in Base Camp. Everyone seems to be in good spirits while they watch the weather forecasts for an opportunity to make a summit push. Currently there is a projected weather window that could come next week on February 20, which means that everyone could be on the move as early as tomorrow to get themselves into position for a dash to the summit. The weather models predict that the wind speeds will die down at last, granting access to the top.

Of course, Alex, Ali Sadpara, and the rest of the squad will carefully pour over the data to ensure that it is safe to make the ascent, otherwise they’ll just end up wasting energy. But, if there is a chance that they could complete the climb, it seems like they are poised to do so. Remember, the Basque climber will be going up without the use of supplemental oxygen, so this winter climb is far from a sure thing.

Over on K2, the Polish Ice Warriors continue their work on the Abruzzi Route. According to reports, Denis Urubko has now been as high as 6500 meters (21,325 ft) before being forced back down due to poor weather. The team has shuttled gear up to their new campsites but are now forced to stay in Base Camp while they wait for their next opportunity, which coincidentally could come on February 20 as well.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for the Poles at the moment is team unity. Urubko continues to criticize his teammates, the group’s leadership, and even their selection of a climbing route. As usual, he seems like the strongest climber in the group, and has been shouldering much of the work up high, but he also hasn’t held back in his critique of how things are going either, taking shots at the other climbers for things like not properly hydrating or assisting with the fixing of ropes. This discord can’t be good for morale and could eventually lead to issues between the men. On the other hand, Urubko might be the team’s best chance for getting to the summit, so it is a fine line to walk for sure.

We’ll continue to keep an eye on things to see how they develop. Right now, the weather is keeping everyone in place, but it seems we’re on the verge of summit bids on Everest, and possibly K2 as well. There are still four more weeks of winter to go however, so there is time for both teams to be patient and wait for the right opportunity.

Autor : Kraig Becker

* source: –  Winter Climbs 2018: Is it Almost Go Time on Everest?

** see also: – National Polish Winter K2 Expedition 2017/18.

Polish famous climbers – The golden decade of Polish Himalayan mountaineering.

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Winter Climbs 2018: Poles Make a Change on K2, Summit in Siberia.

While it has only been a couple of days since I posted my last update on the major winter expeditions that we’ve been following so far this year. There has been a steady stream of news over the weekend that makes it worth of yet another update. Things are happening quickly right now, and the fate of these climbs is hanging in the balance.

On K2, the Polish Ice Warriors team has made the jump from the Česen Route over to the Abruzzi after yet another climber suffered an injury, this time serious enough to send him home. Last week, you’ll recall, Adam Bielecki was struck by a falling rock, breaking his nose and opening a cut that required six stitches to heal. Over the weekend, Rafael Fronia also was hit be a falling rock, this time breaking his arm. This was enough of an injury to send him packing for home, and convince the team to switch to what they hope will be a safer route.

While conditions have been cold and windy on K2, there hasn’t been a lot of snowfall, making rockslides much more common. Frozen snow and ice helps to keep that kind of debris in place, but a lack of it has created unsafe conditions. The hope is that the longer, less-steep climb up the Abruzzi will help mitigate some of these issues.

Meanwhile, the team has had some internal problems it seems as well. Denis Urubko posted some blistering thoughts about the progress so far, blasting his teammates to a degree. Urubko took umbrage with the fact that he was the only one installing ropes at higher altitude, and was critical of the other climbers for not staying hydrated and using their cooking stoves inside tents that aren’t ventilated properly. Are these messages signs of discontent amongst the group or just his frustration on the lack of progress thus far? We’ll have to wait to see, but perhaps the change of route will be good for morale all around.

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K2 Teams Stops, and Starts Back Up.

K2 House Chimney

The Polish K2 team halted climbing on the Česen and switched to another route believed to be safer. The Everest team continues to wait meanwhile there has been a summit of extremely cold Pik Pobeda.

See this post for full background on the K2 and Everest expeditions and the history of winter attempts on the highest two mountains on Earth. Both expeditions need to summit no later than the spring equinox on March 20, 2018, at 0:15 PKT for K2 and 18:00 NPT for Everest to meet a winter summit definition.

Winter K2 – Switch to the Abruzzi

The Polish team planned to climb the Česen Route aka Basque Route because it was shorter, steeper and somewhat faster than the Abruzzi or other routes on K2 from the Pakistani side. However the winter of 2017/18 has been a low snow year allowing dangerous rockfall on the ridge. Two climbers had already been injured, Rafal Fronia with a broken forearm and Adam Bielecki with a broken nose and gash to his face. Adding to the dynamics, Kazakstan alpinist Denis Urubko  who has held Polish citizenship since February 2015, publicly criticized the team and methods on his blog. As a result, expedition leader Krzysztof Wielicki halted all climbing, brought his team back to base camp to regroup and consider alternatives.

There are multiple routes on K2 but the two most commonly climbed are the Česen and the Abruzzi. It now appears they will attempt the Abruzzi. I summited K2 in 2014 by this route. While a bit longer than the Česen, it has very similar issues – exposure to wind and objective dangers. It requires climbing House’s Chimney, a 50-meter/150 foot off-width crack rock climb just below Camp 2 (22,000’/6700m) and up the Black Pyramid, a section of highly loose rock for almost two thousand feet to Camp3 at 24000’/7300m. This route will not be any easier, or safer in my opinion.

Down Climbing K2 Black Pyramid

K2 Black Pyramid in 2014 by Alan Arnette

The Česen and Abruzzi merge at Camp 3 so they would have had the same issue on the upper mountain regardless of route selection. They had reached 6,300-meters on the Česen.

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Discontent on K2, Nanga Anger and Everest Patience.

Polish Winter 2018 K2 Base Camp

Another member of the K2 Polish team was injured by rockfall. This one was more serious and he will be evacuated to Skardu.  The weather watch continues on Everest and Elizabeth Revol has some harsh words for some of the organizations involved in her rescue.

See this post for full background on the K2 and Everest expeditions and the history of winter attempts on the highest two mountains on Earth. Both expeditions need to summit no later than the spring equinox on March 20, 2018, at 0:15 PKT for K2 and 18:00 NPT for Everest to meet a winter summit definition.

Big Picture – Team Dynamics

Team dynamics may be the most import part of an expedition’s expedition’s success. If the teammates turn against one another, the summit is usually lost. Being on a long expedition like Everest or K2 is filled with a lot of downtime, pressure and, at times, a feeling that everything is out of your control. All of this conspires to put pressure on relationships. Of course, people handle this pressure in different ways. Some avoid contact, others try to be the peacemaker and then some seek to control the whole group to their strategy. It’s up to the leader to maintain control through creating an open and honest environment where everyone can speak their mind while being respectful.

Winter K2 – 2 Injured, Team Unsettled

The Polish team lost a key member today. While climbing to Camp 1, rockfall hit Rafal Fronia breaking his forearm. He was able to return to base camp on his own but will be flown to Skardu for surgery and then home to Poland. This is the second loss for the team as Jaroslaw Botor also returned to Poland for personal reasons. Now down two members and with five weeks to go, the anxiety must be increasing to some degree.

Denis Uubko

Denis Uubko blogging at K2 2018

Perhaps this is why Denis Uubko wrote on his blog that he doubts the team’s tactics. While written in Russian and translated awkwardly by Google, the message is pretty clear and reported by multiple outlets. He complained that he was the only one fixing ropes up high and was worried the progress was too slow, that he was forced to speak in Polish to most of the members, not venting the tents when they cook inside, are not hydrating properly, and more …

He reflects on his 2003 K2 winter attempt noting the similarities. That effort was also lead by Krzysztof Wielicki. They set a winter K2 altitude record by reaching 7,550-meters on the north side via the Chinese Pillar route.  Current K2 climbers Marcin Kaczkan and Piotr Morawski were with Urubko in 2003.

Kazakstan alpinist Denis Urubko  has held Polish citizenship since February 2015. See this recent interview with Urubko in Alpinsimonline. where he discussed this K2 winter effort. Urubko was the 15th person to summit all 14 of the 8000ers without supplemental oxygen.

In spite of these difficulties and with good weather at the moment, the team is moving up and down the route for acclimatization and fixing the rope. Marek Chmielarski and Artur Małek went to Camp 1 then Camp 2 allowing Piotr Tomala to overnight at C1. With such limited space at the camps, the team has to climb in tight coordination. 

The plan is to establish at Camp 3 at 6,900-meters if the weather allows.

Polish Winter 2018 K2 Base Camp

Polish Winter 2018 K2 Base Camp

You can follow them directly on their website, Facebook, and SPOT tracker.

.. more on : – http://www.alanarnette.com/blog

Autor : Alan Arnette

* source: – Discontent on K2, Nanga Anger and Everest Patience

** see also: – National Polish Winter K2 Expedition.

Nanga Parbat: 1 Saved, 1 Lost and the Spirit of Mountaineering is Strong.

Tomek Mackiewicz Perhises on Nanga Parbat Following Heroic Rescue Attempt.

Krzysztof Wielicki : Wyścig ze śmiercią – akcja ratunkowa na K2, Netia K2 Polish Winter Expedition (2003/2004).

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Could Tomek Mackiewicz Have Been Saved on Nanga Parbat?

When it comes to mountaineering, second guessing is often a sport unto itself. Such is the case with the recent tragedy on Nanga Parbat, where Polish climber Tomek Mackiewicz lost his life, but a team of climbers on K2 risked their own to rescue French alpinist Elisabeth Revol. But now that the dust has settled, and the operation is being examined, Revol herself is lashing out at authorities in Pakistan, which she says didn’t do enough to help save her friend.

In an interview conducted on Wednesday, Revol said that she feels a lot of anger over the situation. She believes that Mackiewicz could have been saved had officials in Pakistan worked faster and been more forthright in their actions. The French climber says that she sent out an SOS to her husband, Tomek’s wife, and Ludovic Giambiasi, who was helping coordinate the expedition from back home. Those three jumped into action to try to get help for Revol and Mackiewicz, but were met with resistance and stalling on the part of the Pakistanis.
Perhaps the most disturbing element to the story is how the Pakistani helicopter rescue team began negotiating the price of starting the operation. According to reports, they initially wanted $15,000 to fly to Nanga Parbat to rescue Elisabeth and Tomak. But as things progressed, that price rose to $40,000 in cash and in advance, before the flight would ever leave the ground.
It should be also noted that while high altitude rescues have become fairly common on Everest and other big Nepali peaks, in Pakistan they remain fairly rare. The pilots and SAR teams don’t have much experience conducting such operations, which also makes them hesitant to go too high. Tomek was stranded at 7200 meters (23,622 ft), while Revol was told to descend down to 6300 meters (20,669 ft) to meet a rescue team. When she did that however, no one arrived to lend a hand and she was forced to spend another night exposed to the elements in a crevasse. This eventually led to her pulling her boots off while hallucinating, causing severe frostbite.

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