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The Diamir Face with the Messner route
Photo by Ralf Dujmovits
The Rupal Face on Nanga Parbat with the pre-summit, or South Summit.
Photo by archivio Simone Moro
Heading to the Rupal Face on Nanga Parbat
Photo by The North Face / David Göttler

Ralf Dujmovits abandons Nanga Parbat winter attempt

03.01.2014 by Planetmountain

Ralf Dujmovits and Darek Zaluski have abandoned their winter ascent of Nanga Parbat via the Diamir Face. Those still attempting the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat are Simone Moro, Emilio Previtali and David Göttler, as well as the Poles Tomasz Mackiewicz, Marek Klonowski, Jacek Teler and Pawel Dunaj, all on the Rupal Face.

Ralf Dujmovits has opted to abandon his attempt at making the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat. This decision, taken together with the other expedition member, Poland's Dariusz "Darek" Zaluski, was announced on 2 January by the 52-year-old German mountaineer on his blog. Dujmovits had planned to solo the route first climbed by Reinhold Messner in 1978 up the Diamir Face but, as he himself explained, he turned back due to dangerous route conditions, in particular due to the enormous serac barrier that looms perilously above the lower section of the Messner route. A risk, defined by Dujmovits, as incalculable and one he is simply not willing to take, also in the light of what happened in 2008 on K2 when 11 climbers perished after a serac collapsed above the "Bottleneck". Difficulties were further compounded by the fact that Dujmovits could not simply change route, seeing that both the Kinshofer and Göschl lines have large blank sections of ice that would need both time and gear to be climbed.

Dujmovits, who in 2009 completed the ascents of all fourteen 8000ers, had prepared carefully for this expedition by acclimatising beforehand on Aconcagua and spending four nights at 6000m and two nights on the 6964m summit, on 12 and 13 December. He then joined Darek Zaluski on 24 December at Base Camp on the Diamir side of Nanga Parbat. On 30 December the two reached an altitude of 5500m on the Messner route, where they deposited their first gear stash. After 36 hours of continuous snowfall, the first day of 2014 brought with it excellent visibility and this allowed the two alpinists to inspect the entire Messner route and discover two huge seracs looming dangerously over the lower section of the route. Hence the decision to end the expedition.

The Dujmovits and Zaluski expedition was the first to reach Diamir Base Camp after the June 2011 terrorist attack and massacre of 11 alpinists. This is why the expedition was escorted by three armed Pakistani policemen. And this is also why Dujmovits wanted to embark on this adventure: to provide a message of hope for this region, and to "turn over a new leaf." After dismantling Base Camp at 4900m the two alpinists will now be hosted by Essan, their cook, who has invited them to visit his family in Aliabad in the Hunza valley. "I leave with a heavy heart" wrote Dujmovits on his blog "it was a hard, but also a wild and beautiful adventure. I wish you all the best in 2014 - at the end of the day, the only thing that really counts is health and the love of people close to you. I wish both expeditions on the Rupal Face of Nanga Parbat much, much luck and success."

This is precisely what we all wish for Simone Moro, Emilio Previtali and David Göttler and the expedition comprised of Tomasz Mackiewicz, Marek Klonowski, Jacek Teler and Pawel Dunaj currently engaged on the opposite side of Nanga Parbat, namely on the Rupal Face. Simone Moro and his team reached Rupal Base Camp on 31 DEcember (in a record-breaking 3 and a half days from Milan). For its part, the Polish expedition has been on the mountain for 25 days, has established Camp 1 on the Schell route and is now poised to reach the first of the higher camps.

Simone Moro writing on the expedition blog states that the mountain "is very dry, with little snow. It seems as if it has snowed very little this year on this side, probably less than usual, and this is also what the shepherds at Lattabo told us has well as those who we talked to in the Rupal village a few days ago."

Emilio Previtali added, today, that "The Schell route - the line that Simone and David intend to climb - ascends the lefthand side of the face and tops out above 7000m onto the Diamir ridge, i.e. the one coming from the other side of the mountain. The Rupal Face is immense, truly immense. It's the biggest face in the world, between the 8126m high Nanga Parbat summit and Base Camp there is a circa 4500m vertical height difference. When standing below it, Nanga Parbat is so big it's difficult to immagine that somewhere up there it peaks out with a summit. It's a bit like if someone, simply because they're a good or excellent swimmer, decides to jump say into the waters off Gibraltar and swim across the Pacific Ocean all the way to New York."

Things couldn't be more true. It won't suffice to simply be excellent alpinists and even better still for this first winter ascent. The two expeditions, who according to Previtali have immediately started off on good terms, will need all their skill, perseverance, patience and also calculated courage, as well as a pinch of luck in order to succeed. The very same attributes that Daniele Nardi will need; as announced, the Italian mountaineer will head to Diamir Base Camp on 20 January. One thing is certain: for all of them it will be a beautiful and difficult adventure, where nothing can be taken for granted.

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