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Nirmal Purja on the summit of K2 in winter on 16/01/2021, without supplementary oxygen
Photo by Gelje Sherpa

Nirmal Purja climbed K2 in winter without supplementary oxygen

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Nepalese mountaineer Nirmal Purja has reported that he climbed K2 in winter without the use of supplementary oxygen.

Details are beginning to emerge about the historic first winter ascent of K2, carried out at 16:58 on Saturday 16 January 2021 by a team of 10 Nepali mountaineers. One of the strongest of all, Nirmal Purja, has now announced that he managed to climb to the summit without supplementary oxygen. This important detail renders the ascent all the more remarkable. Published below are the words, but above all the considerations, of Nims who, as many know, completed not only the coveted first winter ascent of K2 without O2, but also climbed all 14 eight-thousanders (with supplementary oxygen) in a record time of six months and six days.

K2 IN WINTER by NIRMAL PURJA
K2 winter was a beast of a challenge. I firmly believe that a feat of such caliber is never possible if you don’t have a purpose or if it is only aimed for your own self glory.

I have always known what my mind and body are capable off. To lay it out straight, on my previous evolutions I had been carrying oxygen from 8000m and above, but I was personally satisfied with my work efficiency up to 8000m. It was my choice and I had my own reasons and ethos.

It was a tough call this time inorder to make that decision whether to climb with or without supplementary oxygen (O2). Due to the weather conditions and time frame, I hadn’t acclimatised adequately. I was only able to sleep as high as Camp 2 (6,600m). Ideally climbers need to sleep OR at least touch Camp 4 before heading for a summit push. Lack of acclimatisation, developed frost bite from the first rotation and slowing down other team members, risking everyone’s safety, were the key uncertainties associated.

The safety of my team is and always have been my top priority above all. I have lead 20 successful expeditions so far and all my team members have returned home the exact way that they had left home i.e. without loosing any fingers or toes.

I took a calculated risk this time and I pressed on without supplementary O2. My self confidence, knowing my body’s strength, capability and my experience from climbing the 14 x 8000ers enabled me to keep up with the rest of the team members and yet lead.

JOB DONE ! K2 WINTER WITH NO SUPPLEMENTARY OXYGEN!

There are many cases, where climbers have claimed no O2 summits but followed our trail that we blazed and used the ropes and lines that we had fixed. Some of which are widely known within the inner climbing community. What is classified as fair means?

Personally, it had never been a major deal for me and it still isn’t. Coming from a United Kingdom’s special forces background, you have been and done all sorts but we don’t make a big fuss about everything. It is a personal choice. Nature and the mountains are for everyone. You make your own call !

Link: Nirmal Purja is Ambassador Osprey

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