Strong Winds Thwarting K2 Winter Attempts
Climbers are in a holding pattern at base camp while they wait for strong winds to weaken so they can return to the mountain
K2 is 8,611 metres high, which puts it about 200 metres less than Everest, but it’s considered a far more technical and dangerous. Of the 14 8,000-metre peaks, it’s the only yet to be climbed in winter, with or without supplementary oxygen.
K2 is known as the Savage Mountain after George Bell, a climber on the 1953 American Expedition, told reporters “It’s a savage mountain that tries to kill you.” Of the five highest mountains in the world, K2 is the deadliest; approximately one person dies on the mountain for every four who reach the summit.
In August 2008, 11 experienced climbers died on K2 after a series of avalanches in a “death zone” section called the Bottleneck at 8,200m. It will be one of the many dangerous cruxes for climbers this winter.
In winter 2020/21, at least 60 climbers (roughly half support and half clients) set out to attempt K2, however less than that remain at base camp; but around 50 climbers remain.
So far this winter, Mingma Gyalje Sherpa’s team has fixed ropes to 7,300 metres, which is above the Black Pyramid. Watch the video below. Other teams have carried loads and fixed ropes lower down.
The weather has taken a turn for the worse with extreme winds dropping temps to -50ºC expected for the next week or so. Climbers will be waiting in their tents for the next few days before a change in conditions.
Climbers at base camp are reporting that few believe there’s a chance to summit in January.
Sergi Mingote posted a video showing how difficult the climbing was between camps one and two due to hard ice. He said, “After three days in Camp 1 and Camp 2, I have returned to Base Camp with my last grams of energy. And this is just the lower part of the mountain. Go figure how will it be on the upper sections.”
Top climber Nirmal Purja promised to reach the summit, saying, “I promise the hardest, the last and the greatest mountaineering feat #k2winter will belong to the Nepalese climbing community. I will not leave the base camp until the mission is accomplished.”
Finally, an update from Carlos Garranzo Ibañez: “Today the situation at K2 is very simple: everyone at base camp. Except Waldemar Kowalewski, of course. As is well known, the Pole was evacuated by helicopter. WEATHER Bad weather, with impetuous winds that add up to very low temperatures, block operations. How long? This is the question everyone asks. It seems that an improvement is coming from Friday and that Sunday is the best day for a window that could close on Monday. These are all forecasts to be confirmed. The only sure thing is that there will be no major snowfall even in the next 10 days.”