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Climbers prepare for ascent at the advanced K2 base camp.—Dawn
Climbers prepare for ascent at the advanced K2 base camp.—Dawn

GILGIT/ISLAMABAD: While harsh weather conditions at high altitudes are making it difficult for three foreign expedition teams, which are attempting to scale the world’s second highest peak K2 and the ‘killer mountain’ Nanga Parbat, the mountaineers are determined to achieve their goals.

The two K2 expedition teams are now teaming up to increase the chance of their success.

According to sources, weather conditions at high altitudes are worsening with blowing winds and continuous snowfall creating hindrances for the climbers. They said the climbers were following weather forecasts to plan their moves so that incidents occurring due to snowfall, rock falling, avalanches and blowing winds could be avoided. There is also fear of high-altitude sickness, including frostbite and snow blindness.

The climbers of the two teams had moved to upper positions, but on Saturday they had to descend back to the K2 base camp due to bad weather.

One of the teams is headed by Vassily Pivtsov from Kazakhstan. Its other members are Artem, Roman Abildaev and Konstantin Shepelin from Russia, Michael Danichkin from Kyrgyzstan, Tursunali Aubakirov and Dmitry Muraviov from Kazakhstan.

Mountaineers in two K2 expedition groups team up to boost chance of success

The other team, headed by Alex Txikon from Spain, comprises Felix Criado from Spain, Marek Klonowski and Pawel Dunaj from Poland and five Nepalese Sherpas.

According to Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) secretary Karrar Haidri, the two teams are now working together. “Joining forces means sharing experiences and resources and knowledge to accomplish an extr­emely difficult goal. K2 can have its own weather system with hurricane strong winds and 30 to 40 degrees below zero temperatures, besides exhaustion that make up some of the intense challenges,” he said.

The Nanga Parbat expedition team is led by Daniele Nardi from Italy. Its other members are Thomas Ballard from the United Kingdom and Rehmatullah Baig and Karim Hayat from Pakistan.

The climbers were resting at Camp 3 and had faced some rough nights as strong winds bashed their tent. Mr Nardi posted online, “We are super happy to have reached this point at 5,700 metres.”

Mr Hayat told Dawn through satellite communications on Saturday that current weather condition at Nanga Parbat was not favourable for climbing. He said intermittent heavy snowfall and winds at high altitudes were creating difficulties for them. He said tents fixed at Camp 3 were buried deep under snow.

Despite difficulties, Mr Hayat was determined to develop new routes to summit Nanga Parbat.

The ACP secretary said the team on Nanga Parbat had set some really high goals for itself. The team’s goal is not just Nanga Parbat, the 8,126-metre high peak, but the yet-unclimbed spot known as the Mummery Spur. “Needless to say, Nanga Parbat presents an extreme challenge.”

Some of mountaineers in the team had attempted to summit both K2 and Nanga Parbat last year and the year before, but they remained unsuccessful, Mr Haidri said.

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2019