What do you do after a failed attempt on a mountain? Mainly, you try again — in a few days or a few years. This is what most winter teams currently face on the 8,000’ers. Urubko and Co. will have to decide what to do next about Broad Peak; Alex Txikon is back on Everest for his third winter attempt, and his neighbor, Jost Kobusch, is ready to venture back up West Ridge, despite injuring his foot on his latest attempt.
Broad Peak & K2
Everyone on the Broad Peak team has safely returned to Base Camp, after Don Bowie announced yesterday that they were retreating due to poor weather conditions. Denis Urubko, climbing ahead of the others, was forced back at 7,660 by heavily crevassed terrain. Now it’s time for them to catch up on their rest in (slightly) warmer conditions, and then to weigh their options, namely:
a) Go up again. In this case, they need a plan to deal with the apparently impassable crevasses that stymied Urubko the last time.
b) Call off the expedition and head for home. Broad Peak is not going anywhere, and next year may have better conditions. But let’s not forget that Urubko has already threatened to quit 8,000m expeditions in favor of rock climbing, closer to home and family. Seriously?
c) Move base camp and give K2 Mountain a try. It’s not far away, and there is a team that could provide shelter in BC and has already broken trail to Camp 2. They might welcome the addition of a powerhouse like Urubko to help with trail-breaking… or not? There is always the chance that this tough trio, already weathered on Broad Peak, could steal the coveted winter first on the Savage Mountain.
Perhaps a note on Lotta Hintsa’s Instagram was actually a slip of the tongue: Recalling the hardships of the last summit push, and vowing never again to go on a winter expedition, she added: “…Though ask me tomorrow and I’ll prob sign up for K2 winter…” Mere rhetoric or a hint about upcoming plans?
On K2, meanwhile, it’s been four days since John Snorri reported that the team was heading up to Camp 1 and then fixing the route to Camp 2. They planned to spend three nights at altitude to acclimatize. His tracking device currently locates him at the glacier, near Base Camp.
On Everest, the two current expeditions have been good neighbors. Although they do not share style or route, Jost Kobusch and Alex Txikon both described each other as nice guys, after Kobusch visited Txikon’s camp and participated in the Spanish team’s puja ceremony.
Kobusch is not happy with the progress of his foot injury, which has not totally healed. Despite the lingering pain, today he climbed partway up Lho La, then returned to Base Camp, according to his tracking device. As for Txikon’s team, Jonatan García had a scare when working in the Khumbu Icefall. The ice bridge he was on collapsed and he plummeted 12m into a crevasse. Luckily, he was clipped to a fixed rope, which arrested his fall. He was eventually hauled out. However, he bruised or cracked two ribs during his tumble and was airlifted to Kathmandu today. The rest of the team is preparing to set off, heavily loaded, for Camp 1 tomorrow. They will fix the route to Camp 2 over the next few days.
The winter 7,000’ers
Heavy snow has forced the Polish team to fight for every metre up Batura Sar. Divided into groups, the climbers managed to move their Camp 1 from 4,800m to 5,100m. “This will increase our comfort and safety in CI, but above all, it will reduce the distance to the pass (5,900m), near which we are going to set up Camp 2,” said expedition leader Piotr Tomala.
While falling just shy of 8,000m (by a mere 205m), magnificent Batura Sar stands isolated, almost unreachable because of the phalanx of glaciers around it and never before climbed in winter. The Polish team deserves full marks for their bold project, as do the Russian-Kyrgyz team that summited Ismail Somoni (formerly Peak Communism) last week via a new route on the north side. Summiters were Danichkin, Yerokhin, Usmanov, Filinov, Moroz and Cherkasov. During the climb, led by Sergey Seliverstov, expedition members worked in groups and took shifts to win over the mountain. If you don’t mind using Google Translate, you can read the whole story on RussianClimb.