Everest in winter: Alex Txikon & Co embark on decisive attempt
The expedition led by Alex Txikon currently attempting a winter ascent of Everest without supplementary oxygen has entered the final stage. The climbers have ascended to Camp 2.
The Everest winter expedition led by Alex Txikon has now entered its final phase. After a failed bid in February 2017, the team is back in Nepal attempting to make a winter ascent of the highest mountain in the world without supplementary oxygen.
As previously reported, the Basque mountaineer reached Everest Base Camp towards the end of 2017 accompanied by an extremely strong team comprised of veteran Sherpa and also Ali Sadpara, the Pakistani mountaineer who in 2016 completed the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat together with Txikon and Italy’s Simone Moro.
After having prepared the route up to 7850 meters, and after having acclimatized with a rare winter ascent of 7161 meter Pumori immediately opposite Everest, the team waited patiently for a weather window which is now on its way. Jet stream winds are forecast to slow down on 24 and 25 February.
The team set off from Base Camp this morning and negotiated the most dangerous section, i.e. the infamous Icefall, before continuing on to Camp 2. Txikon tweeted: "The time has come. We are already in Camp 2, the whole team ready waiting for good weather. First and last chance to get to the summit of Everest in winter without artificial oxygen. We expect the summit day to be on the 24th or 25th. We need all your support! GO!"
It is worth remembering that on 17 February 1980 the Polish mountaineers Krzystof Wielicki and Leszek Cichy made the historic first winter ascent of Everest - with the use of supplementary oxygen. Their groundbreaking ascent marked a turning point in Himalayan mountaineering as Everest was also the first 8000er to be climbed in winter. According to the Himalayan Database, only 15 people have climbed Everest in the coldest season and all with supplementary O2 except for Ang Rita Sherpa, who reached the 8850 m summit on 22 December 1987 at 15:20 without O2. It’s worth noting that the Korean expedition he had been climbing with had prepared the route before the start of winter and that the winter equinox started at 4:45 on Ang Rita’s summit day.