Nepali climbers are one step closer to making history on Mt K2, as they reach the highest pointThirteen of the world's 14 peaks taller than 8,000-meters have been climbed in winter. But one still remains unclimbed—the 8,611 metres (28,251 feet) K2, the world's second-tallest that straddles Pakistan and China.
Four Sherpas from Nepal on Friday reached Camp 4 (7,800 metres) of K2, the highest altitude record in winter so far, inching closer to making new mountaineering history.
Thirteen of the world's 14 peaks taller than 8,000-meters have been climbed in winter. But one still remains unclimbed—the 8,611 metres (28,251 feet) K2, the world's second-tallest that straddles Pakistan and China.
Mingma Sherpa, managing director of Seven Summit Treks, who is handling the 49-member K2 expedition team, told the Post that a 10-member team will make the final summit push at 10pm on Friday.
The four-member team that set up the camp at 7,800 metres on Friday afternoon descended to Camp 3.
“They will join another six-member team at Camp 3 and make the final summit push tonight,” he said. “The weather condition has been reported to be stable until tomorrow.”
Seven Summit Treks confirmed that four Sherpas from Nepal–Mingma David, Mingma Tenzing, Mingma Gyalze and Sona–achieved the feat by reaching the highest point of K2 in winter on Friday. The previous highest altitude record during winter K2 expedition was set by Russian-born Denis Urubko in 2018 when he reached 7,640 metres.
“Today [on January 15] at 3:30 pm [sic], we 3 Mingmas made it to camp 4 on K2. Sona brother returned back 30 metres below from C4 coz his part of rope and gear were already used. We see the final route now [sic],” Mingma Gyalze Sherpa wrote on his Facebook page on Friday evening.
Other six members climbing the peak are–Nirmal Purja, Galjen Sherpa, Pem Chiri Sherpa, Dawa Temba Sherpa, Dawa Tenjin Sherpa and Kili Pemba Sherpa.
Nepali climber Nirmal "Nims" Purja, who smashed the record last year for taking the shortest time to climb all 14 of the world's 8,000-meter-high mountains, is also in the 10-member team as he plans to make a parachute jump from the peak.
“This year, Nepalis are close to making history,” said Mingma Sherpa.
Mingma Sherpa said that for the climbers, the final obstacle is “The Bottleneck”, the territory above 8,000 metres known in mountaineering as the "death zone" when a lack of oxygen slowly shuts down the human body.
The Bottleneck, a perilous couloir about 300 metres below the summit, was the site of a 2008 tragedy in which 11 people were killed in an avalanche.
Mountaineers say winter ascent of K2 is “the last great mountaineering challenge.”
On Tuesday, Mingma Gyalze wrote: “This time, Nepalese Winter K2 Expedition is for the nation. We will make the nation [sic] proud. As plan, we are here in Camp 3 with other proud Nepalese team. Tomorrow we will take rest here because of high wind. We 10 Nepalese brothers will update our plan tomorrow afternoon. Good night from K2 C3.”
Climbers say that avalanches are an ever-present risk, and in winter, temperatures can fall to -50 degrees C (-58 degrees Fahrenheit).
Winds blow up to 200km per hour (124mph) that’s equal to cyclone Fani, the most severe storm that travelled more than 900 kilometres (570 miles) from the Indian state of Odisha and blew nearly two dozen tents at Everest’s Camp 2, at 6,400 metres in May last year.
K2 is also considered to be a technically very difficult mountain to climb and has been dubbed “killer mountain” for the sheer number of climbers that have lost their lives on the mountain.
In the summer of 1954, Italian climbers Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli became the first persons to reach the summit of K2.