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with Stefan Nestler

Txikon to Everest, Lunger and Lunger to Siberia

Lunger, Moro, Ali, Txikon (from r. to l.) on Nanga Parbat in 2016

I was wrong with my guess. The dream team of Nanga Parbat 2016 will not be together on Mount Everest this winter, but will go their separate ways. Today, the Spanish climber Alex Txikon announced that he would try together with the 41-year-old Pakistani Muhammad Ali “Sadpara” to scale the highest mountain on earth without bottled oxygen. The other two members of the Nanga summit team, the Italian Simone Moro and the South Tyrolean Tamara Lunger, are drawn to freezing cold Siberia.

Save energy for the top

Alex Txikon in Everest Base Camp (in February 2017)

Alex Txikon will make a new try on Everest after his failed attempt last winter. At that time the Basque had ascended with a Sherpa team once to the South Col at 7,950 meters. There they had had to turn around because of stormy winds. “The problem is not the cold, but the wind,” the 36-year-old said today. “There will be wind speeds of up to 140 km/h and temperatures of minus 60 degrees Celsius. However, on the summit day, the wind must not blow at more than 40 km/h.” According to Alex, the “small team” will arrive at the base camp at about 5,300 meters between 1 and 3 January. Txikon wants to pace himself better this time. “We will try not to carry too heavy loads. The key will be not to work for nine days in a row like last year and to tire in the lower areas, but to save the energy for the top.”

In the limit of the possible

Mount Everest

So far there have been 15 summit successes on Mount Everest in the meteorological winter. For weather researchers, the cold season begins on 1 December, while the calendar winter begins with the winter solstice on 21 or 22 December. The Poles Krzysztof Wielicki and Leszek Cichy reached the summit of Everest on 17 February 1980, succeeding the first winter ascent of an eight-thousander at all. Since the end of 1993 no more climbers have stood on the 8,850-meter-high summit. The only one who climbed the highest mountain on earth so far in winter without breathing mask was Ang Rita Sherpa on 22 December 1987. The weather on that day was unusually good. The great cold in winter normally causes the air pressure in the summit area to fall even further. An ascent without bottled oxygen is then in the absolute limit of the possible.

Freezing cold mountain

Pik Pobeda in eastern Siberia

The 31-year-old Tamara Lunger and the 50-year-old Simone Moro will have to go to the limits too. They have decided to climb the 3,003 meter-high Pik Pobeda in eastern Siberia. The mountain (not to be confused with the 7,439 meter high peak of the same name in Kyrgyzstan) is only about 140 kilometers south of the Arctic Circle. It seems guaranteed that it will get “freezing, freezing, freezing”, as Tamara had told me. Located 250 kilometers southwest of Pobeda, Oymyakon is considered the coldest city in the world. It is disputed whether there was really measured once minus 71.2 degrees Celsius, but it is undisputed that the average (!) temperature in the Russian city in winter is minus 50 degrees. “I can’t immagine how it could be on the mountain,” Simone Moro writes on Facebook. “Nobody has ever climbed that mountain in winter and I can easily imagine why.” They will set off on 22 January.


22. December 2017 | 17:11