Saturday, November 22, 2014

History of Winter Climbing K2

“We do not blame ourselves because we did everything that was humanly possible in those inhospitable conditions,” Andrzej Zawada, winter-climbing pioneer, commented about first unsuccessful winter attempt on K2, of which he was expedition leader. Winter ascent of K2 is probably the finest unclaimed title in Himalayan mountaineering. Multiple factors including extensive funding required for such a complex expedition, complications in approach, the technical difficulties of the mountain, harsh conditions and absence of climbable weather windows, the great altitude and logistical challenges have discouraged several climbers from having a shot on K2. The mountain has been attempted just thrice, compared to 21 attempts on Nanga Parbat.

The 1983 Reconnaissance
After first winter ascent of Everest in 1980, the Polish mountaineers wanted to attempt K2, the next big thing. However, the cost of the expedition was out of Polish climbers’ budget. So, Andrzej Zawada reached out his contacts in Canada for financial support, and luckily the response was encouraging. To conclude the details of expedition and prepare a definite plan, Zawada and a Canadian-resident Polish national Jaques Olek visited Baltoro in 1983.

The situation didn’t look promising; authorities weren’t willing for winter permits, cost was well beyond previous estimates and the logistics were complicated. So, some British climbers were included in the team to gain more sponsors. The dedication of Zawada and his partner paid off and by 1987, everything was set for first K2 winter attempt.

First K2 Winter Expedition 1987-88
First attempt on K2 was made from South side via Abruzzi Ridge. It was a big expedition consisting of around two dozen climbers (13 Poles, 7 Canadians and 4 Brits) and was accompanied by a group of trekkers. To escape additional porter cost in winter, the baggage was shifted to BC in autumn. The team flew to Pakistan at the start of December, and made it to the Base Camp on Christmas day. They were welcomed by snowfall and harsh winds. By the end of expedition, team noted that they had merely 10 good weather days during three months at BC.

Maciej Pawlikowski, Maciej Berbeka, Krzysztof Wielicki and Jon Tinker established C1 (6100m) on January 5th. Few days later, Wielicki and Cichy surpassed House Chimney to install C2 at 6700m. But then a prolonged period of bad weather arrived. C3 (7300m) couldn’t be reached till March 2nd. Wielicki and Cichy were first to reach C3. Roger Mear and Jean-Francois Gagnon also made it to C3 on March 6th. However, hurricane winds raged throughout the night. Both of them suffered from frostbite and had to be assisted down the mountain. The idea of further attempts on K2 was abandoned.

K2 attempt was followed by an alpine-style push on Broad Peak, where Maciej Berbeka made it to Foresummit.

International Expedition 2002-03
After 1988, Poles turned their attention to Nanga Parbat and made several unsuccessful attempts on the mountain. But in 2000 Andrzej Zawada started preparations for second attempt on K2, from Chinese side. In February that year, he wanted to reconnaissance the north side of the mountain, but a sudden illness prevented him from traveling to Karakoram. Zawada remained in hospital for six months and died in August 2000.

Zawada’s team went forth with the expedition planning and eventually in December 2002, 14 alpinists and as many members of support staff arrived in Karakoram. The team was led by Krzysztof Wielicki, and included four members from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Georgia. They intended to climb North Ridge.

The team reached BC (5100m) on December 30th and started working on the route immediately. By January 5th, Denis Urubko and Vasiliy Pivtsov had established C1 at 6000m. After a bad weather break, Krzysztof Wielicki and Jacek Berbeka fixed 200m of rope through Rock Barrier, which opened the route to C2. On January 20th, Denis and Vasiliy installed camp 2 at (6750m).

However, expedition suffered a major setback when Gia Tortladze, Iljas Tukhvatullin and Wasilij Piwcow left the team and returned home. The unification of Poles and Eastern members couldn’t work smoothly. Kazakh climber Denis Urubko decided to stay with the team.

Despite fewer resources the progress continued on North ridge. C3 (7300m) and C4 (7650m) were established on February 4th and 12th respectively. After bad weather patch, a summit attempt was launched on February 21st. Jurek Natkanski and Jacek Jawien went first. Their task was to check camps and supply them. Next day Kaczkan and Urubko began the ascent. The two climbers made it to C4 on 25th and found the tent destroyed by harsh weather. Kaczkan and Urubko spent a terrible night in a small bivouac tent.

Next morning, Denis noticed that Kaczkan was suffering from cerebral edema. A rescue mission was mobilized immediately. On 27th all climbers made it back to BC and the expedition was called off. “Although K2 has once more held out in winter, this expedition showed that a successful ascent is possible.” Piotr Morawsk wrote in expedition report.

Russian Attempt 2011-12
After multiple successful new routes like Lhotse Middle (in 2001), Everest North Face (2004) and K2 West Face (2007), a strong Russian team headed to climb K2’s Abruzzi Ridge route in winter 2011-12. The team consisted of nine climbers, a coach and a doctor. They flew to K2 Base Camp at the end of December.

The climbers worked in small groups to fix the route. C1 (6050m) was established on January 4th, whereas temporary C2 was set up at 6350m on 14th. After being restricted to BC for several days, the climbers resumed the ascent above C2 on Jan 25th. By the end of January, route was secured till 7000m.

On Jan 31st Nick Totmjanin, Valery Shamalo and Vitaly Gorelik lifted some gear to 7000m. They were followed by Iljas Tukhvatullin, Andrew Mariev and Vadim Popovich who fixed the ropes till 7200m. Hurricane winds arrived on Feb 2nd, forcing everyone to retreat.

Vitaly Gorelik suffered from frostbite during the attempt and was also diagnosed with pneumonia. An immediate evacuation was requested but bad weather prevented helicopter from reaching BC. On February 6th at around 11:30AM Vitaly died in BC, of Pneumonia and cardiac-arrest. Following the tragic incident, expedition was called off.

This year’s expedition of Denis Urubko, Adam Bielecki, Alex Txikon, Artiom Braun and Dmitry Siniew will be fourth attempt on K2 in winter (second from Chinese side). They will be attempting an unclimbed route (NE Ridge from China).
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Winter 2015 | Preparations Underway for Exciting Ventures on K2, Nanga Parbat and Elsewhere

No queues, no traffic-jams, no debate on O2 and drugs, no ‘tourists’, no 'brawls', no stealing; winter climbing on eight-thousanders is still pure exploration. K2 and Nanga Parbat have been the focal points in winter since many years. But it’s not all about the unclimbed peaks, as winter-climbing maestro Simone Moro commented in a recent interview, “[i]f you go back to Makalu and do the second winter ascent by a new route, it will be a new page in the history of winter Makalu. It will also come to a point where you climb all eight-thousanders in winter ... there is plenty to be done in the winter. The story of winter eight-thousanders is definitely not going to be closed after K2 (ascent).

New Route on K2

Denis Urubko, Adam Bielecki and Alex Txikon along with Artiom Braun and Dmitry Siniew are aiming for something that stretches the limits of mountaineering extremes. They are planning to climb K2 from Northern side in winter via new route (NE Ridge approached from China). The idea of the expedition was born and matured during Kangchenjunga North face expedition, this spring. The team is expected to leave for Karakoram on December 16th.

Denis Urubko, Adam Bielecki and Alex Txikon have been a regular part of winter climbing in Karakoram in recent years. Denis participated in K2 winter expedition 2002-03 (and reached 7650m on north ridge). In 2010-11, he made first winter ascent of GII together with Simone Moro and Cory Richards. He also attempted Nanga Parbat in 2011-12.

Adam Bielecki is amongst the finest Polish mountaineers of this age. As part of Polish Winter Himalaism team, he made first winter ascents of GI (2012) and Broad Peak (2013). Alex Txikon was part of Gerfried Goschl's team that attempted a new route on GI in 2010-11 and 2011-2012. He made first winter ascent of Laila Peak (6096m - Hushe Valley) in 2013.

Proposed new route in red; Source

Unification of Winter Nanga Parbat Veterans

Tomek Mackiewicz, Daniele Nardi, Elisabeth Revol and Roberto Delle Monache will be on Nanga Parbat, this winter. Although, they will be sharing Base Camp facilities, Tomek’s plan is to solo climb beyond that. Daniele and Elisabeth will together on Mummery Rib, alike winter 2012-13. Roberto will be taking care of logistics and camerawork. Daniele, Roberto and Elisabeth will be flying to Pakistan on December 23rd.

Tomek Mackiewicz has participated in four winter attempts on Nanga Parbat; more than anyone else. In 2010-11 and 2011-12, he couldn’t make remarkable progress on Diamir Face, but in subsequent years he reached 7400m and 7200m via Schell Route (Rupal side).

Tomek Mackiewicz has a different plan for Nanga Parbat, this year. He flew to Pakistan on November 12th and is currently in Islamabad. The polish climber will be going to Rupal valley for acclimatization on Laila Peak (Rupal valley) and Rupal Peak. He will return to Diamir BC in December. Tomek intends to attempt the Messner’s 1978 route in alpine style (last winter, Ralf Dujmovits quit his climb on this route because of dangerous seracs at around 6000m).

I’ll be honest - I would have to close this topic. This is the fifth season. I feel a strong fatigue, but I do not want to let go yet, because I know that it is within (reach),” says the Polish climber.

Ali Saltoro (left) and Tomek in Rawalpindi; Source

More Teams to Nanga Parbat

There will also be a strong Russian team on Nanga Parbat, reports, “Four alpinists from Saint Petersburg are going to climb this 8000-er. The team: Nickolay Totmjanin, Valery Shamalo, Serguey Kondrashkin and Victor Koval. They'll start from Russia on Dec 22nd

Finally, a third team is also seeking permission for winter Nanga Parbat. "The third application was file by Jasmine Tours for three Iranian and one Russian, right now for Diamir Face, but we are also considering to change it to Rupal Face." Jasmine Tours CEO Asghar Ali Porik told us, earlier today.

Nanga Parbat Diamir Face; Source

Simone Moro Planning for Himalayas

Simone Moro says, he will be doing something innovative in Himalayas (not Nanga Parbat or K2), this winter. As the expedition is still under formation, he didn’t share any further details. However, during an interview with in September 2014, he mentioned, “I'm planning to climb Cho Oyu in winter next February. If successful it will be my 4th 8,000er in winter.

Simone Moro is one the best winter climbers of current era. He holds the record of first winter ascents of Shishapangma, Makalu and GII. Moro has made multiple unsuccessful attempts on Shishapangma, Broad Peak and Nanga Parbat.

Simone Moro on Makalu Summit; Source

In interview with Desnivel, he explained why he is not attempting Nanga Parbat. “Denis Urubko is fearful of terrorists and is therefore going to K2 (Note: Simone Moro has promised his wife that he won’t attempt K2 in winter. More here), and David Göttler preferred to spend the winter at home with his girlfriend. So I do not have my teammates. I also considered going with Daniele Nardi, but a winter climbing companion is not a partner to go for a drink at a restaurant or do something here; it is very important to have good feeling and experiences from previous climbs.”

Updates also appear on Twitter and Facebook.
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Monday, November 17, 2014

Autumn 2014 Wrap Up

Post monsoon climbing season has been a mixed one with success and failures in Himalayas, this year. Cyclone Hudhud’s offshoots resulted in a major tragedy in Annapurna and Dhaulagiri regions. Several trekkers and climbers lost their lives due to blizzard and avalanches. More than hundred summits have been reported on Manaslu and Cho Oyu, whereas several new routes have been forged on lesser peaks.

Lhotse South Face

The Korean team on Lhotse South Face was forced to turn back from around 7700m - 7800m, during summit-bid at the start of November. The expedition led by Hong Sung Taek fixed the route and established higher camps in September and October. Their progress was slow and demanding because of severe weather and snowstorms.

The team left Base Camp for the summit on Nov 1st. However, on sixth day of climb they were at around 7700m - 7800m, when high wind and deteriorating health of Hong Sung Taek forced the climbers to retreat.

Nuptse South Face

Like Lhotse, the conditions on Nuptse were too hostile to launch a successful summit-bid. Canadian duo Jason Kruk and Ian Welsted spent four days on South Face. “We encountered conditions and difficulties we were unable to overcome and made the hard decision.” Jason commented about their decision to retreat.

Fatal Avalanches on Shishapangma and Dhaulagiri

Bad snow conditions on Shishapangma didn’t let any team reach the summit this season. In the last week of September, five climbers Andrea Zambaldi, Benedikt Böhm, Sebastian Haag, Martin Maier and Ueli Steck launched a speed ascent on the mountain. After battling difficult and dangerous conditions, the group was at around 7900m, when a large avalanche broke off, sweeping down Andrea Zambaldi, Sebastian Haag and Martin Maier. Maier was fortunate to miraculously survive the avalanche and make it back to C3. He shared his story of survival during an interview with German journalist Stefan Nestler, here.

Slovak team was making slow and steady progress on Dhaulagiri, prior to cyclone Hudhud’s arrival. The snowstorm during bad weather continued for several days and a massif avalanche hit the Base Camp on Oct 14th. Two climbers Jan Matlák and Vladimir Švancár and three members of BC staff Bhoj Kumar Rai, Dorje Sherpa and Gopal Rai were killed in the incident.

No Success on Makalu

British team on Makalu SE Ridge was able to reach C4, but considering overall length of climb and physical condition of climbers, the summit-bid was not launched. On normal route, the teams couldn’t go beyond C2 because of bad snow conditions.

Manaslu and Cho Oyu

Manaslu and Cho Oyu have been favourite eight thousanders for commercial expeditions during fall season and this year was no different. The season concluded smoothly on both peaks with summit count nearing hundred on each. On Manaslu, however, a Japanese climber Yoshimasa Sasaki suffered a fatal fall at around 7300m. His body was later recovered and sent to Japan.

First Ascents on Lower Peaks

Earlier this month, we reported about multiple first ascents and new routes in India. Another new route has been reported on central buttress of Northwest wall of Langshisha Ri (6427 m) in Nepal. Ukrainian climbers Fomin Mikhail (team leader), Polezhaiko Viacheslav and Balabanov Nikita reached the top on Oct 22nd. They climbed the 1600 vertical meter route in 6 days going up (NW wall) and 2 days on descent (via South Face), in alpine style. Further details of ascent can be found here and in this interview.

Updates also appear on Twitter and Facebook.
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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Autumn 2014 | First Ascents and New Routes in Indian Himalayas

Post monsoon is the season when quite a few alpinists head towards Himalayas to attempt virgin peaks and fresh routes on lower peaks. Separate teams of Slovenian, Swiss and British climbers have achieved first ascents and opened some new routes in a less-climbed region of Indian Himalayas, this autumn.

New Routes on Hagshu

Hagshu (6451m) is located near the division of Zanskar and Kishtwar regions. The peak was first climbed in 1989; by Polish climbers without permit and a British team with official permission. No further summits are reported on the mountain (until this year), majorly because of climbing ban from 1993 to 2012 due to political unrest.

This season Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) issued multiple Hagshu permits, due to some bureaucratic blunder, though. This resulted in serious inconvenience for climbing parties. Nonetheless, the ending has been quite smooth for everyone.

Hagshu (6,515m), Kishtwar, Himalaya
Hagshu (6451m); Photo: Mick Fowler;  Source

British Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden have been regular climbing partners and are known for several first ascents in China, Tibet and India; the recent one being first ascent of Kishtwar Kailash (6451m) in autumn 2013. This year, along with Steve Burns and Ian Cartwright, the duo intended to open a new route on North Face of Hagshu.

Three Slovenian climbers Ales Cesen, Luka Lindic and Marko Prezelj were planning to attempt Rimo III, but they were instructed (by IMF) to find another objective. Their agency proposed Hagshu. During the trek to BC, the Slovenians met a three-member American team who also had a permit to climb the Hagshu.

However, at the end, the Americans abandoned the climb because of health issue with one member (the remaining two members attempted Barnaj), the Brits switched to Northeast Face, whereas Slovenians climbed the North Face.

North Face

The Slovenians set up BC at 4400m on west side of Hagshu Glacier. They started the acclimatization by climbing Lagan (5750m), a peak with decent altitude and difficulty, in two days. After a couple of rest days, they established ABC at 4660m. During second rotation, the team summited a 6300m peak named Hana's Men.

After acclimatization and three days of rest, the summit push on Hagshu North Face began on Sept 29th. They left ABC at around 3am.

“We headed towards the wall with a small tent, two sleeping bags and food for two bivouacs. After a little more than two hours of access, we waded into deep powder snow, drifted from the north face by winds and powder snow avalanches. After almost an hour of wading, the conditions began to allow for rapid advancement again. We climbed up a snow cone to the central part of the north face.

We climbed unroped and quickly reached the steepest part of the wall with steep icy passages. Then followed a very steep ice, which surprised us with its hardness. The ice was polished completely smooth from minor powder avalanches and brittle as glass because of the cold. These conditions made the upper part of the wall surprisingly difficult, and slowed us down.”

Ales Cesen on North face of Hagshu. (Photo by Marko Prezelj)

The trio climbed for 23 hours that day, before bivouacking on a narrow ridge at 6320m.  Next day, they resumed the climb, late in the morning. The weather remained nice and the team reached the top at around 5PM. “The late hour and nice weather persuaded us into bivouacking just a few meters below the summit.” The entire climb was graded as ED, 70°-90°, III.

Instead of descending the line of ascent, the Slovenians decided to come down via Polish route on Southeast ridge. “During steep rappelling we all agreed that the Poles had done an excellent job in 1989,” the climbers concluded.

Slovenian Hagshu North Face route; Source

Northeast Face

Precise details about Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden’s climb aren’t available, yet. However, the Slovenians mention that, “They (Fowler and Ramsden) climbed the pronounced couloir in the left-most part of the northern wall, and on the third day of climbing at an altitude of 6320m they joined to the route that had been outlined by us, at the location of our first bivouac. They continued in our trail for the remainder of their ascent and the entire descent.”

Paul Ramsden and Mick Fowler on the summit of Hagshu (6,515m) after having made the first ascent of the NE Face, Kishtwar, Himalaya
Paul Ramsden and Mick Fowler on the summit of Hagshu (6,515m) 

Other two members of British team, Ian and Steve, didn’t participate in Hagshu NE Face climb. They attempted a less-demanding six-thousander near Base Camp. The American team made two unsuccessful attempts on Barnaj from Northeast and South side. They were very close to the top during latter attempt.

Swis First Ascents of Unnamed Peaks, New line to Kishtwar Shivling's east summit

After remaining devoid of any mountaineering activity for almost two decades, the climbers are returning to the playground of Kishtwar region. Apart from the teams around Hagshu BC, three Swiss climbers scaled two unnamed peaks and opened a new route to Kishtwar Shivling's east summit.

Just before mid-September, Andreas Abegglen, Thomas Senf and Stephan Siegrist established the Base Camp near a 5885m peak, which they later named Shiepra. The climbers reached the summit on September 16th, from South side, after bivouacking a night at 5100m. They graded the route as IV WI3 75 degrees.

Stephan Siegrist climbing Shiepra; Source

Next, they moved to a peak, 40m lower than Shiepra. It was named as Kharagosa (5840m). Team started the climb from east face to approach southeast face and go further to the summit. “We were into the second rope length on the pillar when we arrived at a steep and very beautiful section of rock with great friction," Siegrist told, "It was such a bummer we had our alpine boots on and no soft climbing shoes with us!" The route was marked as 6a [5.10] M4, 1000m.

Kharagosa; Source

Next, the Swiss alpinists headed to Kishtwar Shivling, a 6000m peak first climbed by Dick Renshaw and Stephen Venables in 1983. “It was a superb face climb of very difficult, varied climbing: snow aretes, a vertical sérac barrier, difficult mixed climbing, granite pitches and a very steep fluted summit icefield, reminiscent of the Andes.” Stephen Venables wrote in his expedition report to AAJ. He further noted that “like its Garhwal namesake, this Shivling has no obvious easy routes. The same is true for most of the Kishtwar peaks. There is an enormous scope for demanding technical climbing at comparatively low altitude.”

The Swiss climbers approached Kishtwar Shivling via a 50 degree slope. From 5400m onwards, ten pitches of WI5 led them through a hidden couloir which, in his interview to, Siegrist compared to the famous Supercanaleta on Fitz Roy. The team’s progress was halted by a dead-ended at 5895m.

Kishtwar Shivling; Source

Telthop First Ascent

At 6185m, Telthop is amongst the highest peaks in the north of Leh, the largest town of Ladakh. Because of political tensions between India and Pakistan, the area is not well explored and permits are hard to come by. British Matt Barnsley, Roland Chuter, Chris Horobin and Bob Shiels, American Chuck Boyd, Indians Dawa Narbu Sherpa, Tashi Phunchok Zangola, and Virender Singh, and Nepalese Phujung Bhote made the first ascent of the mountain, this autumn.

The group reached the summit via northwest face and southwest ridge. The route involved sections of hard ice at 70°. “Given the sustained nature of the climbing, an overall grade of D was felt appropriate,” wrote Lindsay Griffin for theBMC.

Hagshu NE Face: new Kishtwar climb by Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden
Slovenian alpine climbers Česen, Lindič and Prezelj first to climb the north face of Hagshu
Swiss Trio Finds FAs in India's Kishtwar
British climbers make first ascent of a prominent 6,000m peak in Ladakh

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Autumn 2014 | Koreans Heading Towards C4 on Lhotse South Face

Korean Lhotse climbers are back on the mountain with the aim to establish the final camp at around 8200m, before summit push. Communication from the team has been intermittent, but it appears that the mountaineers left for C4 on October 29th.

Korean route (black) on Lhotse South Face.

Veteran adventurer Hong Sung Taek and five less-experienced climbers have been climbing (and fighting for survival on) Lhotse South Face since last two months. After persistent bad weather and severe snowstorms during September and October, now harsh cold await the climbers as they resume the ascent. “It’s certainly colder than before, but not enough to cause a problem in climbing. We will try our best to not make any weather related excuses,” says the expedition leader.

Frequent avalanches have been running down the South wall because of excessive snowfall in Khumbu region, this autumn. Last week, the team posted a video of avalanches, they encountered since their arrival. It’s reported that snowfall is still persistent. But every cloud has a silver lining. Additional snow and colder temperatures have reduced the rockfall danger, considerably.

The Korean team reached Lhotse South Face BC during first week of September, amidst heavy monsoon snowfall. C1 was set up at 5800m without much difficulty. However, the establishment of next two camps, C2 at 6800m and C3 at 7500m, involved multiple challenges and consumed more than a month. Cyclone Hudhud’s offshoots further delayed the plans of reaching C4. The team consists of Hong Sung aek (47), Kim Tae Gon (42), Choi Jin Chul (42), Yim Jun Ho (36), Choi Hyung Woo (26) and Jeon Jae Min (25).

Climbing a steep Section on Lhotse South Face. Photo: Outdoor News
Lhotse South Face is steep. Photo: Outdoor News
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Friday, October 24, 2014

Autumn 2014 | No Summit Push on Makalu, Canadians on Nuptse South Face

Yesterday, British Makalu team decided not to go for the summit. They are getting off the mountain and preparing to leave Base Camp. With the exception of Korean team on Lhotse South Face, the eight-thousanders are empty now. Nevertheless some climbers are still active on lesser peaks. One such team is the Canadian pair, Ian Welsted and Jason Kruk, on South face of Nuptse (7861m).

Makalu Southeast Ridge
Makalu Southeast Ridge is a long route, with considerable time to be spent at around or above 8000m. Despite the efforts of Sherpa and climbers, the British team wasn’t in a position to launch the final summit-bid. Without specific details, the last dispatch from the team announces the retreat.

“Unfortunately, time, weather, and the debilitating and degrading effect of working such a challenging and problematic route has got the better of us, and forced a retreat off the mountain. With the onset of poor weather and the expedition time limitations, the reluctant decision to get everybody safely off the mountain and call it a day has been made!”

British BC at Makalu's Southeast Ridge; Source

Nuptse South Face
Canadians Ian Welsted and Jason Kruk arrived in Khumbu valley at around mid-September to climb the challenging Nuptse South Face in alpine style. They acclimatized on nearby crests and ridges before actual onslaught. However, their first attempt on Nuptse failed because of bad ice conditions. The two climbers are still at BC, awaiting improvement in conditions to launch another summit push.

Nuptse South Face; Source

Ian and Jason have been tested by adverse weather, alike the Koreans on nearby Lhotse South Face. The weather had continuously been snowy, and the situation was further worsened by cyclone Hudhud’s offshoots.

“Crazy, convoluted snow climbing, messed-up, massive cornices, make these the most heinous features to climb in the Himalaya,” commented Jason Kruk. “The Cyclone Hudhud dropped a ton of snow on an already snowy October. We've decided that the open snow slopes and ice lines are currently suicide.”

The climbers eventually decided to launch the summit attempt at the start of this week, only to be turned back next day. “We were forced down on day two of an attempt by poor steep ice conditions.”

The expedition, however, doesn’t end here. Jason wrote on Facebook, “Nuptse South Face is a hard mountain... I guess that's why it took the most prolific Himalayan climber alive, Valeri Babanov, three trips here to send... And he fixed rope...

We've resolved that despite the difficulty of the line, it's our only safe option for an ascent. As I type this (on Oct 22nd) it's currently snowing (again) on our mountain. This time we'll trade out some ice screws for more rock gear and give 'er hell.”

Ian Welsted on Nuptse South Face; Source
Jason Kruk on Nuptse South Face; Source

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Autumn 2014 | Makalu SE Ridge Summit Push; Video from Lhotse South Face

Excessive snow on Makalu's normal route forced all climbers to retreat. However, the British team is reporting good conditions from Southeast Ridge. They are likely to leave for the summit from C4, tonight. There hasn’t been any update from Korean team, who were on the way to set up C4 on Lhotse South Face. Meanwhile, the home-team of Koreans has published a compilation of video footages from the expedition, majorly covering the massive avalanches on this notorious mountain wall.

British tri-services team’s progress on SE Ridge has been led by a group of Sherpa, who established C3 on Monday. Yesterday, they worked on the route to C4. It's hoped that two members and four Sherpa would have made it to C4 earlier today, and they shall launch the summit push at night. In today's dispatch Base Camp, the expedition leader wrote.

This morning the summit team set off to establish camp four and stay there the night for a planned early next morning attempt at the summit. The summit team radioed in this morning to report they were in good form and with the weather window holding good for the next three days were optimistic for having a good crack at it.

C2 on Makalu SE Ridge; Source

On normal route, the bad conditions didn't let the climber go above C2. “We felt it unreasonable to press on in such difficult / dangerous conditions, so have called off our climb. Currently we are packing up our base camp and preparing to head out in a few days.” Garret Madison wrote on Tuesday.

Lhotse South Face is steep, difficult and dangerous. Korean expedition led by Hong Sung Taek has been working on the mountain since the start of September. Prolonged bad weather, excessive snow and frequent avalanches have made the climb further demanding. The team has now published a compilation of video footages (in Korean language) from the expedition. Watch the interesting movie "Surviving Avalanches" here.

Prior to bad weather stimulated by cyclone Hudhud, Koreans had established C3 at 7500m. They were planning to install a final camp C4 at 8200m before summit bid. However, there hasn't been any update from the team, recently.

Koreans on Lhotse South Face; Photo: Outdoor News

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