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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Winter Climbs 2017: Messner Visits Txikon in Base Camp on Everest.

Autor : Kraig Becker

The winter climbing season continues unabated in the Himalaya and elsewhere. The days are now ticking away rapidly, and with just two weeks to go in the season, the climbers on Everest are beginning to eye the finish line with the hopes of making one last summit bid before spring actually arrives. Meanwhile, in Alaska, another expedition is about to truly get underway.

Alex Txikon and his team have been on Everest since early January now, and have had all attempts to summit the mountain turned back due to bad weather. The team has seen its share of bad luck as well, with a couple of members being sent home after suffering injuries. In fact, the entire squad was recalled to Kathmandu a few weeks back, but after spending eight days in the Nepali capital, they returned to Base Camp last week to begin preparing for another summit push once again. They spent most of that time rebuilding the route through the Khumbu Icefall, but did manage to climb up to Camp 1 before going back down to BC.

It has been a very long and difficult season to say the least, and Alex and company are probably more than ready to wrap up this challenge and head home. If they have been feeling dejected in any way, it hasn’t come through in their dispatches however, and the Spaniard has always maintained an optimistic demeanor, even when things looked like they were at their worst. Still, today he received a major shot to his morale when legendary alpinist Reinhold Messner paid them a visit in Base Camp. Just judging from his dispatch it is clear how excited Alex was to meet his idol, and it may just be the shot in the arm he needed to finally get him up the mountain. Continue reading

Winter Climbs 2017: Icefall Route Restored on Everest.

Autor : Kraig Becker

Alex Txikon and his team of Sherpas continue to make progress on Everest as they attempt one more shot at the summit. The squad arrived back on the mountain earlier in the week, and have been working on restoring the route through the Khumbu Icefall ever since. Now, with that job done, they are turning their attention upward with the hope of making a final push to the top soon.

In all, it took three days to completely rebuild the path through the icefall. According to reports, more than 60% of the route was destroyed while Txikon and his crew were back in Kathmandu for eight days. Bad weather and shifting ice took its toll on the path, which is mostly made up of ropes and long aluminum ladders that are used to cross open crevasses.

With the icefall now tamed once again, the team is planning their next move. Yesterday was a rest day, but today they intend to get back on the move. They’ll climb straight up to Camp 2 and 6400 meters (20,997 ft). Since the group should be fully acclimatized at this point, this could indicate that they are prepared to make a summit bid now, although it could simply be a recon mission to check the status of the camps prior to resting for a few days. That said, time is now of the essence. With just three weeks left in the winter season, and their endurance starting to be tested, we’re closing in on a “now or never” situation. And of course, as always, it is the weather that will ultimately decide when they can have a go at the top again.

To get an idea of what it is like to work in the Khumbu Icefall, check out the video below. We’ll have more updates as we learn more about Alex’s plans moving forward.

* source: – Winter Climbs 2017: Icefall Route Restored on Everest

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Winter Climbs 2017: Txikon Back in Base Camp, Ready for Summit Attempt.

Autor :  Kraig Becker

At the end of last week I wrote that Spanish climber Alex Txikon had set out from Everest Base Camp to take advantage of a brief weather window that had opened on the mountain. At the time, there was some speculation that he might be making an attempt on the summit, although I suspected it would be his final acclimatization rotation instead. Now, after a very busy couple of days on the mountain, we know two things: The weather window has closed and Alex is ready to make history once again this winter.

Txikon and his band of Sherpa climbing partners left BC last Thursday to make a push up the Lhotse Face. The team made solid time as they enjoyed good weather on their way up the mountain, first staying in Camp 2 for the night, before proceeding up to C3 the following day. Ultimately, they would establish Camp 4 at 7950 meters (26,082 ft) on Saturday, where they would deposit gear that will eventually be needed for the coming summit push. Once they dropped off the equipment, they immediately turned around and descended back down the mountain, with the Sherpas remaining in C2 while Alex himself continued back to Base Camp.
Now, all the members of the team have safely reached BC, where they are awaiting a storm that is expected to arrive early this week. That storm will bring high winds, lots of snow, and very cold conditions. But, it isn’t expected to be a large weather pattern, and the forecast says it will move on later in the week. That means that another weather window could open within a few days, giving the team a chance to go for the summit at long last.
Alex says that he is now full acclimatized but he needs rest before launching his summit bid. He’ll get time to regather his strength while the weather is bad. Once the storm passes and he’s had a few days to recuperate, the final push will begin. The Spaniard says that he is now ready to go and the stage has been set. All he needs is a stretch of good weather conditions and he will have a go at the summit.
As if climbing Everest in the winter isn’t challenging enough, Alex is also doing so without the use of bottled oxygen, something that has only been accomplished once in the past. You may recall that the Spanish climber is use to making history during the winter, as last year he was part of the squad that put up the first ascent of Nanga Parbat during that season as well.
For now, just like Alex and his teammates, we have to sit and wait. But the next time he leaves BC, it should be for an attempt on the summit. I’ll let you know when that happens and will have regular updates on his progress in the days ahead.

* source: – Winter Climbs 2017: Txikon Back in Base Camp, Ready for Summit Attempt
** see also – Winter Climbs 2017: Txikon Leaves Everest BC, Possible Summit Bid This Weekend.

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Winter Climbs 2017: Txikon Leaves Everest BC, Possible Summit Bid This Weekend.

Autor : Kraig Becker

We have an update from Everest this morning, where Alex Txikon is proceeding with his winter ascent of the tallest mountain on the planet. The expedition is proceeding according to plan, and after nearly a week in Base Camp resting and recuperating, the Spanish climber has now headed up the mountain to take advantage of a small weather window that could potentially provide just enough of an opening to give him access to the summit.

Alex, along with his Sherpa climbing partners, left BC yesterday at 4:30 AM with an eye on reaching Camp 2 at 6400 meters (20,997 ft). From there, the plan would be to move up to Camp 3 today at 7300 meters (23,950 ft). From there, they’ll survey the weather to determine where they’ll go next, but there is some speculation that he might make a summit bid while the weather holds.

Personally, I believe Txikon and his team are possibly looking to establish Camp 4 and may even spend a night at around 8000 meters (26,246 ft), before descending back to Base Camp for one more rest. This weather window isn’t a very big one, and the team may not quite be ready yet to make a dash for the top. If they do build C4, and then descend they’ll be acclimated for the next weather window, which could come as early as next week. Time is on Alex’s side right now, as winter will last another six weeks. He’s likely to play it safe, be patient, and give himself the best possible chance at achieving his goals, which is a winter summit of Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen. That is something that has only been done once before by Ang Rita Sherpa, who did it back in 1987. The big difference this time around is that the entire expedition is taking place during the winter season. When Ang Rita did it, it was on the first day of winter.

Will Alex make a dash for the summit during this period of calm weather? Possibly. But my instincts say no – not yet. We’ll just have to wait and watch to see what happens. He is a strong climber and may see this as his best opportunity. For now, we wait for further news on his progress.

More soon!

* source: –Winter Climbs 2017: Txikon Leaves Everest BC, Possible Summit Bid This Weekend

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Jerzy Kukuczka – the ultimate legend part 1. /Version english/

Jerzy “Jurek” Kukuczka has entered mountaineering history as ‘thesecond man to conquer all 14, 8000ers” after Reinhold Messner.Jerzy Kukuczka - the ultimate legend, part 1

The description hints sort of a ‘second best’ rating – but nothingcould be more off. The best are not always the first. In fact, manyconsider Kukuczka the greatest mountaineer of all. In this series, we examine why.
Today, part 1: Elegant style, pure spirit and deep respect for the rules of the game

14, 8000ers in 8 years

Jurek didn’t only climb all the 14, 8000ers; he summited them allin just eight years! It took Messner 16 years to complete the list. Infact, only Korean Young-Seok Park has climbed all 8000ers faster than Kukuczka. The Korean ace broke that particular speed record by somemonths, although we must keep in mind that he used O2 for some of hisclimbs.

New routes, winter, alpine style

Another remarkable fact is that Kukuczka climbed most of his ‘Great14’ through new routes or/and in winter season. To be accurate, at theend of his 8000ers quest he had opened nine new routes – one of themsolo – accomplished five climbs in alpine style and four in the winter.

At each and every new climb, he sought for a twist – a newchallenge to add. He wanted them all, but he also wanted a bigger questwith each. He wanted to test their boundaries rather than to provehimself – could it be done this way, or that way, faster – or inwinter, perhaps. Jerzy’s example is all the more important today, assome proclaim the 8000ers “done”.

Cho Oyu, Shisha, Everest – they all offer plenty of seriouschallenges for the truly courageous, as long as they are approached”Kukuczka-style”.

That style is the reason why Jerzy is considered a reference onelegant climbing, pure spirits and deep respect for the rules of thegame.

goryonline.com

** zapraszam na relacje z wypraw polskich himalaistów.

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