“You can see the light rack on the picture, the glacier may spit it out in many years :-)” last message of the missing Joel Wischnewski for the solo Nanga Parbat attempt
It is now more than evident that French solo climber Joel Wischnewski was more on a suicide mission than a solo attempt of the deadly Nanga Parbat in the middle of the dreaded winters in the Pakistani Himalayas.
The rescue team organised and executed by his agency has been scouring the probable route of the missing climber who last updated his blog on the 22nd of January and went for the final solo attempt of the 8,125m Nanga Parbat.
Apparently, broken-hearted Joel wanted to summit the peak for the first winter ascent of the same but being an accomplished climber himself, he was well aware of the fact that such a feat was a far-flunged idea given the absence of a backup Base Camp and a team which is an essential element for a successful winter ascent.
"When I look to the mountain, I don’t look to the summit and the way to get there," said Joel on January 22nd, "I just try to find a safe but brutal and technical way so that this experience will bring me peace."
Mohammad Ali, the head of the search operation explained their inability to continue the search operation in wake of the bad weather and is still waiting for the weather to improve so that they may continue their search.
"The last two days (21st & 22nd) the HAP's unfortunately haven't been able to go up because of the bad weather conditions. We can only wait and hope for the conditions to improve very soon." said Ali.
But what has been the true reason behind Joel’s mindless attempt is still a mystery. Continuing with his last update over his expedition Joel had written,
"I just climb to try to heal my spirit’s wounds, and for nothing else. When I look to the mountain, I don’t look to the summit and the way to get there. I just try to find a safe but brutal and technical way so that this experience will bring me peace.
"And I can only find this a few steps from death. Too many painful moments; love can be very destructive. The person that did not respected me, but more important did not respected the French law, should be facing up to 5 years prison and 75.000 Euros sanction taxes to the country. "I was too destroyed to defend myself on court and choose instead to transform all this pain and violent darkness into something positive and beautiful."
"I’m glad to lay here, on Nanga Parbat, and still be alive to try to make something difficult and magical. My mind is totally ready, like if I closed my eyes and let me fall in complete trust and faith. Whatever I will find, this will be nice and positive to my soul. I never reached this level of engagement before."
Nanga Parbat entertained almost half a dozen climbing teams this year who wanted to make it to the top of the ninth highest and the second deadliest peaks in the world for the first winter ascent of the same. Nanga stands as one of the only three highest mountains in the world which have never been climbed in winters.
FINALLY THERE’S A SUMMIT! Alex Txikon and Jose Fernandez make it to the top for the first winter ascent of the Laila Peak
Pakistan’s rugged Karakorums may have denied a 8000er ascent this year but all has not gone in vain. Alex Txikon and Jose Fernandez have recorded the first winter ascent of the Laila Peak, when they finally made it to the summit of the 6,097m high in the late hours of February 18th.
Laila Peak is considered as the “most beautiful mountain in the world” and is well known in the climbing circles for its distinct spear shaped peak and is often the prime destination of the climbers and snowboarders in summers. Located in the Hushe valley near Gondogoro Glacier, Laila Peak has allowed only seven people in all to climb all the way to the peak while many aspiring mountaineers have either snowboarded their way down or retreated due to unstable snow at the peak.
Alex and his partner narrated their story later, regarding it as the toughest mission they have ever come across in their otherwise stellar climbing career.
“We made it back to the Camp-2 at eight and a half hours and a little light from the five and a half or quarter to six. It’s been very very hard. We are exhausted. Joseph has three fingers touched and I can hardly move. It was very very hard but we are very pleased and proud of the work we have completed, with the feel of having come to one of the most beautiful and challenging summits of our lives”. said Jose.
The team made their summit push on February 11th but had to return to Base Camp due to deteriorating weather and increasing wind speeds. They made their second attempt on 18th and started their push from Camp-2. However, this time around, Ramon Portilla decided to stay back in Base Camp due to severe frostbite and Juanjo San Sebastian also stayed back due to his aching knee joint.
Alex and Jose faced some of the most difficult challenges just before making it to the top where the temperatures dropped to a painful -35 Celsius and wind speed soared to 60km/h, piercing through their gear.
Their summit push began in the early hours but difficult weather conditions and piercing wind speeds did not allow them to reach the summit until late in the afternoon.
“We arrived at four in the afternoon. It has been hard. It has been very windy, in many areas there was lot of snow and there was very difficult stretches from the technical standpoint. We had to do twelve long more than 80m. The final stretch was very infernal. The last two, we have done with snow above the chest. We got to where we could move. The GPS showed us at an altitude of 6,100m”.
The successful winter ascent of the Laila peak marks this year’s first and probably the only winter ascent in the deadly Karakorums of Pakistan.
This year’s most experienced mountaineering team, the Polish Broad Peak Winter Expedition for this year, have now retreated but insist that they have not abandoned the mission as yet.
Led by the winter specialist Krzysztof Wielicki, the team has been gaining altitude for the past several days, making deposits and establishing camps along the way to the peak. The team announced their final summit push on February 15th and started their attack on February 18th at 5 am in the morning.
The Polish Website announced the retreat and said, “Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski have left the assault camp at 7,400 m today at 5:00 AM. At 10:00 AM due to increasing wind they decided to terminate the attack and retreat. There is a cloud - altocumulus lenticularis - over the summit that forecasts a change in weather conditions. Visibility has decreased. Maciej and Tomasz have not reached the crack at 7,820 m. At the moment two assault teams (Adam/Artur and Maciej/Tomasz) are returning to the base camp”.
There were early reports about the exact location of Karim Hayyat, one of the High
Altitude Pakistani porters who have been part of the expedition. The Polish team however, is hoping that Karim is in the Base Camp and is not ready to declare a panic for the moment.
"Probably Karim is with them, simply there's no news about him from BC, but no alarm." says Jan Komorowski.
Earlier, the team had been facing numerous gruesome challenges to reach high altitude camps and make the necessary deposits. Adam Bielecki (last year’s G-1 summiteers) and Artur Małek failed to make it through the crack at 7,820m and returned to C-3.
Polish team is one of the most experienced team visiting the rugged Karakorum this year, among several expeditions to the Nanga Parbat, the Laila Peak and the Broad Peak, many of which have already given up in face of the deadly wind and freezing temperatures. Poles are eager to bag the second consecutive first winter ascent of the remaining three 8000ers which have never been climbed before. All three of them are in Pakistan.
The Polish attempt is likely to continue in a week’s time, when they are hoping to get another weather window.
French mountaineer and solo climber Joel Wischnewski goes missing on the Rupal Face of the deadly Nanga Parbat
Apparently another mountaineer has succumbed to the merciless heights of the treacherous Nanga Parbat and reports are coming in that a rescue operation has been underway in search of the French High-Altitude snowboarder and climber Joel Wischnewski.
The solo climber was out to attempt the dreaded Rupal Face via the Trashing Valley and his last blog update came on February 6th and there has been no information regarding his location since then.
Wischnewski’s closing message on his blog read, "Moving up. The central pillar and the wall are too dry. I’m going to try the S-E pillar. I’ve got 3 days. Bye, take care and thanks for following.”
However, for all the missing climbers in the world of mountaineering, Wischewnski’s story is a different one. Suffering from recurring internal bleeding in his intestines, the Frenchman was apparently on a suicide mission never to return.
“Today, I’m losing blood from my intestines. It’s great… But I’m used to (luckily? or sadly?), so I can mentally handle it and this is not a problem. I take everything easy, stay positive and simple, eat rice and try to get drunk with tea. When I was losing blood 2 years ago, I could barely walk at sea level, with a constant acid feeling in my belly. Damned, what a good souvenir! xD Don’t worry about me, I would continue to climb with my intestines in my hands. I don’t care anymore. Only engagement is important”. said Wischnewski in his earlier posts.
It comes as a surprise that the government of Pakistan extended permission to him to attempt the mindless solo climb on one of the deadliest mountain on earth, without making arrangements for an anticipated rescue operation. Wischnewski’s guide and the head of the operating agency started the rescue operation on his own, following the SOPs set between the two parties.
Earlier the operating agency started the lookout for the Frenchman and said,
"He had experienced problems with his satellite phone before and while picking up a spare battery in Rupal village he took extra food supplies with him. When after several days there still hadn't been any news from Joel and in order to establish contact with him, our guide Fida has gone up in the night to try and contact Joel while making light signals by flashing with a torch as had been discussed by Joel and Fida in case he couldn't be reached by phone."
Wischnewski was also suffering from acute illness as he ascended the mountain in Pure alpine style with no ropes, no O2, no fixed camps, no porters, no altitude porters, no staff. Only the mandatory Liaison Officer for security concerns. Transport approx. 150kg. 2 snowboards that he can use as a pulka for the trek.
The tour guide has launched a rescue operation on his own and is currently not being supported by the government to search for the missing climber.
The managing director of the agency further stated, "Meanwhile I have moved three highly experienced high altitude porters from Skardu (who have climbed several 8000 plus peaks and did several successful rescue mission in Baltoro region led by Kazim Sadpara the younger brother of Nisar Hussain Sadpara who disappeared along with Gerfried Goeshl and Cedric Hahlen on March 09, 2012 while climbing G 1) with full climbing equipment to reach Rupal valley as soon as possible and search for Joel on Rupal wall by climbing up to 7000 meters."
“THE ATTEMPT HAS BEGUN!” says the official Polish Mountaineering website for the first winter ascent of Broad Peak
The polish attempt of the Broad Peak is taking final shape as the team is gradually closing in on the 8051 m peak which has never been scaled in winters before. Under the supervision of the renowned Krzysztof Wielicki, the team is edging up the rugged peak slowly but surely.
According to the last reports Adam Bielecki and Artur Małek have already made it to the camp-3 and will be spending the night there despite of an unfavourable weather forecast. This is part of the plan charted out by Wielicki earlier and the team is hoping to accost better weather conditions in the next few days.
For the moment, they have decided to reach and stay as high as possible fighting the unfavourable weather conditions. Wielicki is staying back in the Base Camp, guiding and coordinating with the team climbing their way up. The Poles are hoping to bag the peak somewhere in the early hours of February 18th.
“Maciej Berbeka, Tomasz Kowalski and Karim are in C2 and are going to spend a night there”. said the Polish Mountaineering official website.
“Amin and Shahin set off for a reconnaissance above C3 and at the moment are coming back, but is still is not known where they will spend a night - whether it is going to be C3 or a lower camp. Weather during the day has been extremely bad, but it has not been an obstacle to fulfill the plans; weather forecasts for tomorrow leave some hope for improvements. The plan for tomorrow includes establishing camp 4 (Adam and Artur), so that they may set off towards the peak on 18th February”.
The polish team is planning an out-of-the-box strategy where a backup team comprising of Maciej Berbeka, Tomasz Kowalski and Karim Hayyat will be waiting in Camp-2 in case the summit attempt meets a failure and a fresh contingent can replace the earlier team for a second attempt.
Broad Peak is the 12th highest mountains in the world standing at 8,051m above sea level. The mountain was first summited by an Austrian mountaineering team in the summers of 1957. It has never been climbed in winters.