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K2: a Fort for Txikon, reinforcements for the Russians and the wait for good weather
The two expedition on the K2 do not have any kind of human contact or technical exchange. A pity but it was predictable.
The abysmal differences in strategy, as well as cultural and personal ones, have become widely manifest in the last 20 days, when the action on the mountain has been reduced to the minimum due to the continuous bad weather.
However, the Russians-Kyrgyz-Kazakhs have continued rotations between Base Camp, Advanced Base and up to Camp 2, bringing materials and maintaining a minimum level of acclimatization; moreover, unlike Txikon, they have already practically passed the Black Pyramid and have the material ready to set up the upper Camps, the C3 at about 7300 meters and the C4 on the shoulder, at about 7950 meters.
Alex Txikon has chosen not to move, and not to move any of his Sherpa, even in the presence of moderate bad weather. His strategy is “save energy for when there will come the good weather”. In the meantime, he kept busy by setting up a “wall” of ice, on the principle already used to build the igloos, to protect the tents from the strong winds expected in the last days; the visual effect … is that of a military fort!
The team of the Russians-Kyrgyz-Kazakhs led by Braun and Plivstov remained in action, though obviously reduced, after February 1, when the team had equipped until the 7200 meters of the Black Pyramid zone; in these 20 days, rotations were made up to C1 and a bet to C2, moreover 3 Kazakh mountaineers arrived at Base Camp, thanks to a late sponsorship.
In an interesting interview with Wspinaie.pl, the great Polish mountaineer Leszek Cichy, geodesist expert and protagonist, among others, of the first winter at Everest with Krzysztof Wielicki in 1980, expresses his thoughts on the strategies of the teams, about the terrain that will challenge the team between the Black Pyramid (which he faced in the winter 1987-88) and the summit of K2, in a very sharp way :
“The Black Pyramid does not present great technical difficulties but it is long, compared to the Tatra I would say a III / IV degree, moreover there are many ropes, not particularly ruined given the exposure and the rocky area, which allow a fairly fast progression in good condition “
“… the real problem will be in the area between C3, at the end of the Black Pyramid and the Shoulder: there are about 700-800 meters of route that, from the sketches and stories of Denis Urubko in the last attempt [last winter,ndR] is considerably full of crevasses and dangerous, depending on the presence of snow or ice, and it could be difficult to find the right path “
On acclimatization: “the Russians, if they think they are going to climb by the end of February – that they consider the real end of winter – they need to sleep at least one night over 7000 meters.. “.
But it is speaking of Alex Txikon that Cichy is lashing: “his two expeditions to Everest and what he has done so far to K2, that is to remain almost always at Base Camp, show that something with him is really wrong, either is logistics, or strategic…he’s not prepared at all, he never managed to climb even the Everest South Saddle [..] now he and his team have no acclimatization, which is only [gained] by making active efforts ; putting the fixed parallel ropes has been insane. “
Also Denis Urubko expressed his thoughts in a similar way, and he is convinced that none of the 2 teams will manage to climb by February 28th, the end of Winter for the mountaineer of Kazakh origin. In a newly released interview, Denis said he was rather tired of 8000ers expeditions, and he think he will do three more before retiring: one at Gasherbrum II this summer to make a new route, one at Broad Peak in winter and in two years the decisive one, at K2 winter..
“The good mountaineer is the old mountaineer,” said Urubko, who in this winter has perfected himself on rock in Patagonia with his partner Pipi Cardell.
In the next days is predicted a rather long window of good weather, all to be confirmed – both on K2 and Nanga, and soon we will see if there are minimal chances of success by one of the teams present ..
Nanga Parbat : snow, snow and snow again
A brief update from Nanga Parbat: Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard have been practically stopped for over 2 weeks at the Base Camp, except for a few run at C1 and one at C2 (5700 meters), to dig up the bag with the material.
At Nanga the amount of snowfall has been considerable, even if normal for the season; above all, in the short windows of good weather, the two could not move much for the avalanches resulting from the accumulations, very dangerous right in the C2-C3 area, at the base of the Mummery Spur.
In the meantime, bearers arrived with supplies of food and technical gear [the duo lost lot of material buriedby snow at Mummery bottom] , hoping to be able to climb the Mummery in speed during a good weather window.
The acclimatization is now lost, even if the two remain very positive and active at Base Camp, where Nardi and Ballard often train in drytooling on Boulder boulders and lately Tom Ballard in a nice downhill skiing from a side gully of Nanga
Tom Ballardsaid :
“This expedition seems more and more a nice holiday, we are well at Base Camp, we always find new problems of drytooling on the boulders around, and lately I had a lot of fun skiing on magnificent snow …”
Even for them, waiting for a window long enough in good weather is the dream of the moment …