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Winter expeditions: Waiting for end of snowfall

Igloos in K2 Base Camp

Bad weather forces the climbers of the winter expeditions on the eight-thousanders K2 and Nanga Parbat in Pakistan and on Manaslu in Nepal to inactivity. The team from Kazakhstan, Russia and Kyrgyzstan led by Vassiliy Pivtsov returned to K2 Base Camp yesterday after the seven climbers, according to their own words, had fixed ropes on the classical Abruzzi route up to an altitude of 6,300 meters. The Spaniard Alex Txikon’s team has not yet ascended, but built in the base camp three igloos, in which a total of ten to 14 people can sleep. Alex was thrilled after his first igloo night.

Date

22. January 2019 | 15:14

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Nanga Parbat: Nardi and Co. again in Camp 3

Daniele Nardi in Camp 3

While the winter expedition teams at the eight-thousanders K2 and Manaslu have only just moved into their base camps, the Italian Daniele Nardi and his three companions on Nanga Parbat are in a more advanced phase. Today Daniele, the Brit Tom Ballard and the two Pakistani mountaineers Rahmat Ullah Baig and Karim Hayat ascended again to Camp 3 at 5,700 meters, directly below the Mummery Rib. Five days ago, the four climbers had deposited a tent there and then returned to base camp.

Date

15. January 2019 | 21:03

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Winter expeditions are on

Alex Txikon (l.) and Simone Moro in Lhukla

Several winter expeditions in the Himalayas and Karakoram started in the first days of the year. Two of the three climbers who had succeeded the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat in 2016 met in Lhukla in Nepal, however now with different goals: The Spaniard Alex Txikon wants to tackle K2 in Pakistan, the last remaining eight-thousander to be climbed for the first time in the cold season, the Italian Simone Moro is drawn to Manaslu again. The 51-year-old and the South Tyrolean Tamara Lunger had failed on the 8167-meter-high mountain in western Nepal in 2015 because of the enormous snow masses of that winter. This year, according to the Kathmandu-based newspaper “The Himalayan Times”, Moro plans to climb with the Nepalese Pemba Gyalje Sherpa on the normal route without bottled oxygen. In order to acclimatize, they wanted to climb the 6,476-meter-high Mera Peak in the Khumbu region.

Date

4. January 2019 | 14:06

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Their goal: Nanga Parbat in winter, on a new route

Daniele Nardi (l.) and Tom Ballard in Islamabad

Daniele Nardi can not keep his hands off Nanga Parbat yet. Already for the fifth time the 42-year-old climber from Italy tries his luck in winter on the 8125-meter-high mountain in Pakistan. Nardi and his 30-year-old British climbing partner Tom Ballard arrived in the capital Islamabad, from where they travel on to the north of the country. The team will also include Pakistani mountaineers Rahmat Ullah Baig and Kareem Hayat. Their goal: a new route to the eighth highest mountain on earth via the so-called “Mummery Rib”. In 1895, the British pioneer Albert Frederick Mummery had dared the first serious attempt on an eight-thousander via the rock spur in the Diamir Face. With the Gurkha Ragobir he had reached an altitude of 6,100 meters. Nardi tries this route for the second time: In winter 2013, he had climbed with the Frenchwoman Elisabeth Revol up to about 6,400 meters.

Date

21. December 2018 | 0:44

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Next episode of the soap opera on Nanga Parbat

Avalanche on Nanga Parbat

Avalanche on Nanga Parbat

It’s snowing and snowing and snowing on Nanga Parbat. An ascent to higher altitudes is out of the question. 25 centimeters of snow has fallen within one day, the Spaniard Alex Txikon writes on Facebook. The risk of avalanches is accordingly high. Therefore Alex, the Pakistani Muhammad Ali – called Ali “Sadpara” (he comes from this village) –, the Italian Simone Moro and the South Tyrolean Tamara Lunger are still forced to twiddle their thumbs in Base Camp. Even with an improvement in the weather, the international team would have to acclimatize again due to the long compulsory break before they can seriously think about a summit attempt – not to mention the necessary work to break the trail again. Nevertheless it doesn’t get boring on Nanga Parbat because the dispute between Txikon and Italian Daniele Nardi, who has meanwhile departed, is turning into a kind of “divorce battle”.

Date

11. February 2016 | 18:29

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Lunger: “The prince has to fight for a long time”

Tamara Lunger

Tamara Lunger

The adjourned game on Nanga Parbat continues. 15 centimeters of fresh snow cover the Base Camp on the Diamir side. Alex Txikon, Ali Sadpara, Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger may be forced to postpone their acclimatization climb they actually planned for Sunday. A reconciliation between the Spaniard Txikon and the Italians Daniele Nardi seems unlikely. “YES, cooperation is finished”, Alex writes to me from Base Camp. “Although tried to give more than one chance to this cooperation, it was finally impossible.” The dispute also stresses Tamara Lunger. The 29-year-old South Tyrolean has already climbed two eight-thousanders: In 2010, as the youngest woman ever, Lhotse (with supplementary oxygen) and in 2014 K 2 (without breathing mask). On Nanga Parbat, she once again forms a team with the Italian Simone Moro. Last year, both had to abandon their attempt on Manaslu due to heavy snowfall. I have contacted Tamara in Nanga Parbat Base Camp.

Tamara, the bad weather has forced you to stay in Base Camp for days. How do you spend your time and keep yourself fit?

Date

6. February 2016 | 22:32

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Tomek’s comeback?

Tomek Mackiewicz

Tomek Mackiewicz

Will his “Never again Nanga Parbat” turn into a “Now more than ever”? The Pole Tomek Mackiewicz announced that he would return to the Base Camp on the Diamir side. After their summit attempt two weeks ago, that had failed at an altitude of about 7,300 m, Tomek and his French team partner Elisabeth Revol had departed. Mackiewicz had said in an interview that after his seventh faild attempt he would definitely not try again to climb the ninth highest mountain in the world for the first time in winter and that he would perhaps even say finally good-bye to the Himalayas and the Karakoram.

Date

4. February 2016 | 16:55

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Trouble on Nanga Parbat

Nanga-txikon

Upwards with snowshoes

Harmony is different from what’s obviously going on in Diamir Base Camp on Nanga Parbat. “The collaboration between [the Spaniard] Alex Txikon and Italian Daniele Nardi has become impossible due to obvious and ongoing disagreements about how to proceed during the expedition”, it says on Txikon’s website. There were “different working patterns and priorities” as well as “conflicting interpretations of some events, and also differences regarding the behavior in Base Camp”. It remains to be seen whether the two wranglers are able to overcome their differences or it’s too late to mend their ties. It is striking in any case, that Nardi was absent from the latest trip of the team. On Monday, Txikon, Tamara Lunger, Simone Moro and Ali Sadpara had used a wind break to climb with snowshoes up to 5,100 meters.

Date

3. February 2016 | 16:36

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Speculation on Nanga Parbat

Elisabeth Revol and Tomek Mackiewicz

Elisabeth Revol and Tomek Mackiewicz

Reporting about what happened today on Nanga Parbat was a bitl like fishing in murky waters. I tried to make out from the wildly swirling information on the Internet where the climbers on the mountain currently were. The sun has long since set in Pakistan, so I’m assuming that the mountaineers have sought protection in their tents. It is still unclear how far the Pole Tomek Mackiewicz and the Frenchwoman Elisabeth Revol have climbed up during their first summit attempt. The Pakistani Arslan Ahmed, who had joined the team but had to leave because of health problems, had contact with Tomek for the last time at 10.30 local time.

Date

22. January 2016 | 16:36

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Fall without serious consequences

Group picture - with joker Tomek Mackiewicz (r.)

Group picture – with joker Tomek Mackiewicz (r.)

Again, it’s a tough struggle for the first winter ascent on Nanga Parbat – and a dangerous one. On the Rupal side, the southwestern side of the mountain, the Polish “Nanga Dream” team is working their way up on the Schell route. “The guys are on the ridge [the Southsouthwest Ridge] trying to make Camp 3”, the team writes to me today. “They are pushing higher up to 7,000 meters.” Camp 2 is located at 6,200 meters. On the Diamir side, the northwestern side of the mountain, Thursday is “one of the few days – if not the only one – that we ALL are in Base Camp at the same time”, the Spaniard Alex Txikon writes on Facebook.

Date

14. January 2016 | 12:56

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Turn five into four

Nanga Parbat

Nanga Parbat

Joining forces is a recipe for success – also in mountaineering. You only need to recall the legendary first ascent of the Eiger North Face in 1938, when the Germans Anderl Heckmair and Ludwig Voerg and the Austrians Heinrich Harrer and Fritz Kasparek started their climbs as two teams of two, banded together in the wall and were successful. Also now on Nanga Parbat, two of the five expedition teams on the mountain have joined their forces in order to have better chances for the first winter ascent on the ninth highest mountain on earth. “Plan A – quick alpine style push – failed due to weather. Plan B – regaining acclimatization and climbing “alpine style like” – failed too due to Jacek’s health issue. By the way he is himself again. It’s time for plan C”, the Polish climber Adam Bielecki writes on Facebook.

Date

11. January 2016 | 17:05

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Shock freezing on Nanga Parbat

Jacek Czech climbing on an icy slope

Jacek Czech climbing on an icy slope

There will hardly be record temperatures on Nanga Parbat this winter, and if, then only low ones. “Unfortunately January weather on Nanga is extremely bad in comparison to the previous two years”, writes the Polish climber Adam Bielecki, who, along with his compatriot Jacek Czech, wants to climb on the Diamir side of the mountain via the Kinshofer route to the 8,125-meter-high summit, doing it in Alpine style: without bottled oxygen and without fixed high camps. “So far there wasn’t a single day with weather good enough to attempt a summit attack.” In the last few days, the thermometer dropped below minus 40 degrees Celsius. In addition, strong winds blew and it was snowing. These days, Bielecki and Czech want to climb up to a minimum altitude of 7,000 meters, “in order to regain acclimatization which would allow us to wait for better weather”. That sounds as if the two Poles can imagine not descending to Base Camp once more before their first summit attempt. Before traveling to Pakistan, Adam and Jacek had already acclimatized at the 6,893-meter-high volcano Ojos del Salado in Chile.

Date

7. January 2016 | 17:43

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Climber’s Groundhog Day on Nanga Parbat

Andie MacDowell with a real groundhog

Andie MacDowell with a real groundhog

What are Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell actually doing this winter? Perhaps the two Hollywood stars are traveling to Pakistan to shoot a remake of their blockbuster “Groundhog Day” that is set in the world of high altitude climbers. After all, the same match on Nanga Parbat is repeated year after year: Several expeditions arrive at the different base camps to climb the “Naked Mountain” for the first time in winter. And again and again they return home exhausted and empty-handed two months later. 27 expeditions ended this way. This winter, another five teams will tackle the 8,125-meter-high mountain, which is – apart from K 2 – the only eight-thousander which has never been climbed in the cold season. Two of the current climbing teams have the Murray/MacDowell pattern – even if the name of one of these expeditions sounds more like a Disney movie.

Date

5. December 2015 | 14:00

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Italian Manaslu expedition: Snowed in and flown out

Digging, 3 to 4 times a day (here Tamara)

Digging, 3 to 4 times a day (here Tamara)

The South Tyrolean Tamara Lunger and the Italian Simone Moro fled from Manaslu today. The two climbers were flown out by helicopter to Samagaon, the village at the foot of the eight-thousander in Nepal. After the heavy snowfalls in recent days “the situation was out of control”, said Simone. More than five meters of snow piled up in the base camp at 4700 meters. The small team barely managed to dig out the tents. Because of the snow masses the base camp, that was actually safe from avalanches, was acutely endangered now. “Yesterday the powder and dust from an avalanche reached base camp, this made us understand that we were no longer safe there”, Simone said. That was “not funny anymore”, the 28-year-old Tamara, who had still been so euphoric just a few days ago, wrote in her blog. Even the experienced Simone was impressed by the extreme weather conditions.

Date

4. March 2015 | 16:56

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A special kind of mountain “idyll”

Iranian climbers and their guardians

Iranian climbers and their guardians

Heavily armed police officers in the base camp – honestly, that would spoil my joy of mountaineering thoroughly. Soon these special forces are to be not only the exception but the rule in Pakistan, at least at “prestige mountains” like Nanga Parbat (8125 m), K 2 (8611 m) or Rakaposhi (7788 m) and also in much visited camps on the glaciers in the north of the country. In the region of Gilgit-Baltistan, a special “High Altitude Police Unit” was introduced this week. It consists of 50 men now and should be increased to 100 police officers later. The security forces get special clothing against the great cold and are trained by mountaineers, so that they may help in rescue operations in case of emergency. But first and foremost it is their duty to protect foreign climbers.“Because of the ongoing military offensive in the country, there is a high risk of reprisal attacks and we can’t afford to repeat any incident like Nanga Parbat”, police spokesman Mubarak Jan said.

Date

27. February 2015 | 21:11

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