Winter Alpinism is back in full swing as two of the most difficult Pakistani 8000ers are under attack yet again. Two strong international expeditions are currently at the Base Camps of Nanga Parbat and K2 and gearing up to pitch their attempts to the top.
Nanga, nick-named “The Killer”, has already been summited in winters of 2016, while K2, the second highest in the world has never had a man standing on top in winters. Both expeditions have been relaying interesting news and jaw-dropping photos from the respective base camps.
K2 remains as the most sought after challenge in the mountaineering world being the only 8000er in the world never scaled in winters. A late start-up on K2 may have repercussions as the climbers are likely to hit the deadly Jet Stream above 7600m.
The 13-member Polish expedition has already reached the Base Camp after an unprecedented warm welcome in Pakistan amid sputters of camera clicks and selfies.
The expedition is the fourth inline to have ever pitched an attempt for the formidable K2.
K2 has only seen three strongmen expeditions so far, all of which ended up biting dust. Poles, for all the obvious reasons, are more than eager to bag the coveted trophy as they are rightfully remarked as the pioneers of winter Alpinism. Poles were also the first ones to attempt the mindboggling K2 in winters in 1987-88 under the leadership of Andrzej Zawada.
So far, more than 190 porters have shuttled the big PVC drums of food and gear to Concordia, while the Poles have successfully established their fully operational and well-connected Base Camp.
The team had to biouvac while on their way to the Base Camp. Led by the little monster Krzysztof Wielicki, the attack is likely to be conducted by Adam Bielecki, Janusz Gołąb and Denis Urubko, all of whom have at least one winter summit under their belt. Rest of the climbing team will work as soldier ants, shuttling food and rations to high camps, fixing ropes and trail breaking.
Establishing camp-4 on the shoulder, right on top of Abruzzi Spur, the attack team will wait for the weather window to launch the summit push.
The team completed their in-house acclimatization drills back in Poland where they were subjected to inclined walk in limited oxygen, in attempts to increase the red blood cells. This technique has been used before but has yielded little or no result on actual high altitudes.
The last Russian expedition to attempt a winter ascent on K2 was also well-funded by the government where they had airlifted most of the cargo to the Base Camp. The expedition retreated after the death of high climber Vitali Gorelick who died of Pneumonia and could not be rescued due to bad weather.
The “Karakorum Anamoly” of increasingly intense and late winters has been a matter of concern for scientists and mountaineers all over the world. The Karakorum and Himalayas experience intense winters by the end of January, when the deadly Jet stream pounds the high altitudes making it largely impossible to penetrate.
For the moment, the poles have already established Camp-1 on the Abruzzi spur reaching up to 5600m.