ISLAMABAD: As the winter climbing season draws to a close, veteran climber Karim Hayat has given the expedition on Nanga Parbat a 30pc chance of success.
“We are looking at another week-long spell of bad weather closing in soon on Nanga Parbat,” Mr Hayat told Dawn Sunday night.
Mr Hayat and his climbing partner Rahmantullah Baig abandoned their attempt to summit the 8,126 metre peak last week, leaving behind Italy’s Daniel Nardi and Britain’s Tom Ballard. According to their tour operator managing the expedition, the foreign climbers refused to give up until the last minute.
But Mr Hayat said the mountain has spoken and it has given the climbers a chance to climb another day, but not this season.
“We have had tons of snow, and base camp alone was buried under two to two and a half metres of fresh snowfall. There is continuous risk of seracs along the route selected by the expedition. We have also had avalanches on the mountain that were also a warning sign,” he said.
Up on the mountain camp two and camp three — where expedition members had installed tents and deposited gear — were buried under several metres of fresh snow, he said, explaining that he decided to call it quits when he lost his crampons and other climbing gear to piles of fresh snow.
His climbing partner could not continue either after also losing gear and developing a health condition, Mr Hayat said.
But Ali Mohammad Saltoro from the Alpine Adventure Guides, the tour operators managing the expedition, believed Mr Nardi and Mr Ballard still had a chance.
“We are pinning all our hopes on Tom Ballard, a go-getter and a technically sound climber. We are constantly in touch with the two members, who have requested us for more supplies. They have till March 10 on the peak and they intend to wait till the last minute for a clear weather window to try to make a push for the summit,” he said.
The four-member expedition faced delays due to continuous bad weather.
The team suffered another setback when the two Pakistani climbers decided to try again next winter.
Nanga Parbat was summited for the first time in the winter of 2016. A team of Alex Txikon, Ali Sadpara, Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger returned safely to base camp after the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat, successfully completing one of the most sought-after challenges in alpinism. Nanga Parbat was the most recent winter summit.
K2 is the only peak in the world above 8,000 meters left to be summited during the winter.
Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2019