ISLAMABAD, Feb 14: The suspense on the Nanga Parbat was over after three expeditions could no longer continue their push for the summit because of extreme cold, strong winds and health concerns.
Most of the expeditions had arrived in Pakistan by the end of December and headed out on their missions in the first week of January. However, a month-and-a-half later, the climbers decided to return.
Elisabeth Revol knew it was going to be hard, and it was, especially when she and her Italian partner Daniel Nardi had chosen a tough season and a tougher route for their ascent, the pair said on their blog.
Daniel Nardi, a veteran alpinist, had five 8,000 metres plus summits under his belt, including the Mount Everest in 2004, K2 in 2007 and Nanga Parbat in 2008.
Fighting for four days and trapped in a freezer on 6,000 metres turned out enough in the second attempt for the Mummery ridge on the immense dramatic peak - 8,126 metres high - on the western end of the Himalayas.
The two mountaineers tried a direct push for the summit from Camp II but the extreme cold -48 degrees centigrade - plus wind chill proved too much.
“I've never been so cold. The call of the summit was so loud but nature was stronger,” Elisabeth Revol wrote on the blog, adding: “So was our desire to live.”
And with snowfall forecasted to February 20 and Daniel Nardi’s frostbite, and with fierce winds topping 100 kilometres, the expedition was over. The two-member team was also attempting the ascent still unclimbed in alpine style, an ascent defined by climbing in a self-sufficient manner with food and shelter and other essential gear.
A few days back, Hungarian mountaineer David Klein, his countryman Zoltan Acs and his American teammate Ian Overton had also called it a day. A wrecked move to Camp II resulted in giving Ian Overton acute mountain sickness that became the decisive factor.
Record altitude holders on Nanga Parbat this winter at 7,400 metres - Tomek and Marek - have also gone home.
Karrar Haidri, member executive council Alpine Club Pakistan, was not surprised given the known challenges the mountain would throw the climbers in the winter season.
“Nanga Parbat is one of the hardest climbs in the world – harder than the K2 even. It is hard summiting Nanga Parbat in summers let alone conquer it in winters especially when there are so many unknowns. Most of the eight thousanders in Nepal have been summated in the winter season. But only one mountain in Pakistan has ever been conquered in the winter,” said Mr Haidri, elaborating how the GII was summated by two Polish mountaineers in the winter of 2011.
This year, only five expeditions had turned up for winter climbs out of which four were taking on Nanga Parbat and one was attempting to ascend the Broad Peak – another 8, 000 metres plus in Pakistan. There were no winter expeditions on K2 this year.