Apart from the sturdy Italians who will be eager to tame the treacherous Nanga Parbat in the dead of winters this year, another ambitious Gridlock of Americans and Hungarians will be attempting the unthinkable.
The 28-year-old American Ian Overton, an accomplished Climbing Medic will be teaming up with Hungarians Dávid Klein and Zoltan Acs to summit the 8,125m Nanga for the first winter ascent.
Of the three 8000ers K-2, Nanga Parbat and Broad Peak which have not been summited in winters, Nanga Parbat offers a gruesome challenge and has overpowered several winter attempts in recent years. This time around the mountain will be facing at least three renowned climbing teams from all over the world, all hoping to bag the virgin ascent of one of the most notorious mountain on earth.
The team will be arriving in Islamabad somewhere in the closing weeks of December and will be shuttled to the Nanga Base Camp on the Raikot Face. Following in the footsteps of “Mr. Winter”, Italian Simone Moro, the team wants to keep the strength to the minimum and will be treading the same route followed by Simone and Denis Urubko last year.
“Last winter Simone Moro and Denis Urubko scouted an excellent line slanting to climber’s left of the traditional Kinshofer Route (and then later gaining it) on the Diamir Face.” says David.
“It looks relatively safe and avoids the steeper, rocky sections at lower altitudes. It’s important, because this way we can limit – or maybe avoid – fixing ropes. Since these steep, rocky sections are at a lower altitude of the Kinshofer, we would have to fix them, so that we could ascend and descend these sections during acclimatization. We are a small team, relaying on no high altitude porters or bottled oxygen, so I was very happy to see this creative solution of the Italians.” He added.
Overton, may not have experienced the ascent of an 8000er before in his life, but comes with considerable experience of climbing and skiing in the winters. Being a Medic in the expedition, Overton’s duties may be limited to the safety of the Base Camp but he does not want to stay put.
“As the team medic, I intend to be on the mountain with David and Zoltan”. He said. “I won't be of much use at base camp playing with a suture kit and taking my own blood pressure. As for my personal climbing career, I won't shy away from saying I've never reached beyond what you can find here in the Continental US. Point me at a 14000 in winter and I'll make a run at it”.
As for David and Zoltan, both have no fewer than five 8000ers between them, all in Alpine Style and without the use of supplementary Oxygen.
“Zoltan and I have climbed together – since 1998 – on six different expeditions (four of those in the greater Himalayas) and we know how the other functions during an expedition”. said David.
The team is likely to be accompanied by a Romanian Expedition in the Base Camp also following the Kinshofer-Diamir line chartered out by Simone.