Expedition set to make attempt on K2 in winter

Updated 02 Nov 2020

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An international expedition is preparing to attempt to scale K2 this winter and some of them plan to do it without bottled oxygen obviously depending on the state of Covid-19 in Pakistan and elsewhere, said the Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) on Sunday. — Photo by Madison Mountaineering/File
An international expedition is preparing to attempt to scale K2 this winter and some of them plan to do it without bottled oxygen obviously depending on the state of Covid-19 in Pakistan and elsewhere, said the Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) on Sunday. — Photo by Madison Mountaineering/File

ISLAMABAD: An international expedition is preparing to attempt to scale K2 this winter and some of them plan to do it without bottled oxygen obviously depending on the state of Covid-19 in Pakistan and elsewhere, said the Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) on Sunday.

“Nearly a dozen climbers from Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Bulgaria are part of this expedition besides scores of Nepali Sherpas that will accompany the climbers and assist with fixing ropes along the route,” ACP Secretary Karrar Haidri told Dawn. More climbers are expected to join the expedition, he added.

Climbers from different countries are part of team, says ACP

The 8,611 metre-high K2 is the only peak that has never been conquered in the winter season, and has become one of the biggest challenges for veteran climbers. Summit options that are already scarce in the winter drop to nearly nothing if climbing without supplemental oxygen is not an option, said the ACP, quoting the Seven Summits Trek, which is the organiser of the expedition.

Most climbers have experience of climbing in the Himalayas, Iceland’s John Snorri, and already attempted the peak last winter. The ACP official expressed the hope that they would climb the peak with Pakistani ace Ali Sadpara. Ali Sadpara has made the first winter ascent on Nanga Parbat.

Similarly, two other mountaineers, Russian-American Alex Goldfarb and Hungarian Zoltan Szlanko, have also set an ambitious goal of attempting to summit Broad Peak this winter, the ACP said, adding the expedition, which was likely to attract more climbers, would reach Pakistan in December.

The latest attempt on the 8,051-metre-high mountain was in the winter last year by Poland’s Denis Urubko.

Urubko was unsuccessful after his partner Don Bowie fell sick and he had to help him down the mountain. He then launched a bold solo attempt that was ultimately thwarted by extremely dangerous conditions.

According to Mr Haidri, Zoltan Szlanko intends to add more challenge to his summit attempt by also carrying his skis for a possible ski descent though the priority would remain getting to the top of the peak.

Mr Haidri said the winter ascent on K2 is one of the toughest climbs where climbers have to brave extreme weather conditions such as hurricane strong winds and 20 degrees to 30 degrees below temperatures and fatigue.

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2020