Nanga Parbat in winter, Tomasz Mackiewicz and Elisabeth Revol return to Base Camp after reaching 7800m
News just in: France’s Elisabeth Revol and Poland’s Tomasz Mackiewicz have returned to base camp of Nanga Parbat after reaching 7800m during their attempt to make the first winter ascent of this 8126m giant in the Karakorum. This historic feat on the 9th highest mountain in the world is also being attempted by several other expeditions: on the Diamir side the Italians Daniele Nardi and Roberto Delle Monache, on the Rupal Face the Russians Serguey Kondrashkin, Victor Koval, Valery Shamalo and Nickolay Totmjanin. In addition, they will shortly be joined by Spaniard Alex Txikon, the Pakistanis Muhammad Ali Sadpara and Muhammad Khan and an Iranian expedition.
According to a tweet sent by Altitude Pakistan, Tomasz Mackiewicz will stop his Nanga Parbat winter attempt due to injuries incurred in a 50m crevasse fall.
It’s been a tense weekend, marked by little information, poor communication and, above all, great concern for the fate of France’s Elisabeth Revol and Poland’s Tomasz Mackiewicz. For the last few the two were high up on Nanga Parbat and there had been no news about them, until this morning when Daniele Nardi confirmed that the two alpinists had returned safely to base camp. Revol and Mackiewicz are currently attempting the historic first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat and after setting off from Base Camp on 9 January, on 15 January the two were at 7000m and many wondered whether they might perhaps make a summit bid. The next day they were thought to be descending but from then onwards there was no more news. Some feared the worst. Until now, with the excellent news coming directly from Daniele Nardi’s team confirming that Revol Mackiewicz are now safely at base camp and that during the previous days they even reached 7800m. According to Altitude Pakistan, if this altitude is confirmed then it’s the second highest point ever reached on the 'Naked Mountain' in the coldest season.
As is well known, 8126m high Nanga Parbat is the only 8000er along with K2 to be not yet been climbed in winter, so the stakes are understandably high. So much so that there have been circa twenty winter attempts on the ninth highest peak in the world since it was climbed for the first time by Hermann Buhl, solo, in July 1953. It comes as no surprise therefore that this winter there are several expeditions gunning for this big prize: apart from the above mentioned Elisabeth Revol and Tomasz Mackiewicz, on the Diamir Face there are also the Italians Roberto Delle Monache and Daniele Nardi, while over on the Rupal Face there is a small Russian expedition comprised of Serguey Kondrashkin, Victor Koval, Valery Shamalo and Nickolay Totmjanin.
On the Diamir side, until a few days ago Revol, Mackiewicz, Nardi and Delle Monache were all officially part of the same expedition led by Nardi. The Roman climber is attempting Nanga Parbat for the third time in winter: last year solo, in 2013 together with Revol who in 2008 climbed three 8000ers in 16 days: Broad Peak, Gasherbrum II and Gasherbrum I without ever retiring to Base Camp and without supplementary oxygen. Mackiewicz is making his fourth winter bid and after last year’s experience, he has now changed flank. The initial idea was to share base camp and logistics and while Nardi had announced he’d climb the Mummery Rib, after observing the mountain at the end of December Mackiewicz and Revol instead opted to attempt the line started by Reinhold Messner and Hanspeter Eisendle in 2000, attempted unsuccessfully by Moro and Urubko in winter 2012/2013. As reported earlier, in recent days Mackiewicz and Revol had reached 7000m circa where they set up their Camp 4, and this was followed by the information 'blackout' until this morning, probably for technical reasons.
Nardi had carried out a first reconnaissance on Mummery Rib, fixing ropes at an altitude of 5100m, but last Thursday he announced that the two expeditions would officially separate citing, according to his press release, the choice of Revol and Mackiewicz of ‘attempt the climb to the summit independently '. This behavior obviously 'collides with the initial agreements to pursue the dream as a team, climbing the Mummery Rib to reach the summit together.' It goes without saying that Nardi remained at total disposal of his two colleagues in case of emergency and with the logistical support already set up at base camp. And it goes without saying that, after these long, tense hours, Nardi can now continue his acclimatization with renewed energy.
As for the Russians, they are climbing the enormous and frightening Rupal Face via the Schell route, first climbed in 1976 by the the Germans Hans Schell, Siegfried Gimpel, Robert Schauer, Hilmar Sturm and attempted last winter by Simone Moro and David Göttler and the Poles Tomasz Mackiewicz and Pawel Dunaj. Given the length of the route and the few ‘weather windows’ the Russians plan on climbing as fast and light as possible, with a final camp at an altitude of 7000m from where they plan to launch a summit bid. Between 8 and 11 January the Russians fixed ropes up to 6000m where they also deposited gear. According to the latest news, after being forced to return to base camp due to strong winds, on 14 January 14 they set off from base camp to continue to fixing ropes at altitude. As yet there is no more news about progress.
So, after these tumultuous days in the Karakorum work at altitude continues. To add to all this, Altitude Pakistan reports that Alex Txikon is now on his way to BC. Together with Adam Bielecki and Denis Urubko the Spaniard had planned to attempt the first winter ascent of K2 but their expedition was canceled right at the last minute because since the Chinese authorities denied climbing permits. Txikon is to attempt a route up the Diamir Face together with two Pakistani climbers, Muhammad Ali Sadpara and Muhammad Khan. In addition, according to the site, the Iranian expedition that plans on attempting Nanga Parbat in winter has finally solved its visa problems and will reach base camp towards the end of this week.