GILGIT: A foreign expedition on K2 reached 7,500 metres, near camp IV, on Thursday.

According to the expedition’s official website, team leader Vassiliy Pivtsov from Kazakhstan and Tursunali Aubskirov from Kazakhstan, Michael Danichkin from Kyrgyzstan and Artiom Braun from Russia are heading to camp IV.

Although the weather is alright, the lack of visibility prevented them for going any higher.

Three members of this expedition, which began in the first week of January, have left. They include Konstantin Shepelin and Roman Abildaev from Russia and Dmitry Muraviov from Kazakhstan.

The team leader said in a message that they are moving up but working according to the situation, and decisions are made quickly based on weather conditions.

The expedition had planned to ascend K2 in the winter for the first time before the end of February. They pushed towards the peak three times but had to return to base camp.

Tour operator Asghar Ali Porik said the expedition members had reached camp III and would begin the final push to camp IV in the next three to four days.

A second team, led by Alex Txikon and his long time partner and friend Felix Criado from Galicia, Spain, and Marek Klonowski and Pawel Dunaj from Poland, had begun climbing K2 parallel with the first expedition along with a five member team of Nepalese sherpas.

The sherpas are also climbing had fixing ropes up to camp II.

Alex Txikon, Felix Criado and Ignacio de Zuloago had flown to Nanga Parbat base camp to search for missing climbers Daniel Nardi and Tom Ballard, who went missing Feb 24.

Alex Txikon had asked to be dropped off at the K2 base camp from Nanga Parbat by helicopter.

He had Tweeted that they would return to K2 base camp on Thursday, but the helicopter could not fly up to Nanga Parbat on Thursday to pick them up.

Alex Txikon believes that winter will end March 20, before which he wants to climb K2. Most climbers and the Pakistan tourism department consider winter to have ended in Pakistan on Feb 28.

Mr Porik, the operator of both expeditions, also said the majority consider Feb 28 to be the end of winter but added to wait and see what could be decided if the climbers scale K2 before March 20.

Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2019