Return of the “Ice Warrior”: Krzysztof Wielicki to lead Polish Winter Broad Peak Expedition 2012/2013
Once known as the fastest Alpinist in the world, the 62-year-old Krzysztof Wielicki has climbed all the 14 eight thousanders for no fewer than 15 times in his stellar career. He has two winter peaks, The Everest 1980 which was a jaw-dropping epoch in the history of mountaineering for being the first 8000er ever climbed in winters.
He later summited the 8,516m Lhotse in 1988 to become the only alpinist in the world to have two winter summits on his belt. He was later superseded by Italian Simone Moro in 2011.
The Polish ace climber now returns to summit the difficult Broad Peak in the Karakorum-a mountain range which offers some of the greatest challenges in the world of mountaineering.
Polish Alpine Club has already picked a five to six-member team for this year’s Winter Broad Peak Expedition 2012/2013. The team is likely to reach Islamabad soon to address a press conference before leaving for Skardu.
Arrangements are already underway where the Base Camp is currently being set on the Godwin Austin Glacier near the West Wall of the 8,051m Broad Peak at an approximate height of 4700m above Sea Level.
The race to bag the remaining three 8000ers for the first winter ascent is already in full throttle as the Poles and Italians are vying to scale these summits. Wielicki probably knows the mountain better than anyone else for having summited the peak for the first ever record breaking attempt of any 8000er in one day.
The 62-year-old Wielicki recalls the moments of his thrilling success with a big grin.
“In the summer of 1984, Wojtek Kurtyka put me on. Together with Jurek Kukuczka, we were together on an expedition to Broad Peak (8047 m). We were climbing in order to adjust and Wojtek noticed that I'm walking very fast. I was always there 2-3 hours before the others. He said, since I'm moving so fast, maybe I could reach the summit in one day. So I gave it a try, at first in secret, at night. I reached 7200 m. It was foggy. I didn't see where I was, I got scared. You walk alone, without a rope, without fixed ropes marking the route, around a mountain crack. I withdrew. After a week I did it again. I headed off to the north. I managed to reach the summit in 16.5 hours and to walk back in less than 6 hours, so I made it in a day. This has been mentioned in the world press as a record”.
An Electric Engineer by profession, Wielicki has proved to be one of the amazing survivors of the risks thrown his way in the sport of Mountaineering. He acknowledges that he has been far more fortunate to have survived those moments where many of his friends and fellow climbers perished in a blink of an eye.
Broad Peak, one of the 12th highest mountain in the world, has a total height of 8,051m ASL. The mountain was first summited by an Austrian team in June 1957.
Broad Peak is known to be one of the comparatively easier 8000ers in the world for it is overshadowed by the gigantic K-2 in the neighbourhood, partially protecting it from direct impact of wind at high altitude.
It has never been climbed in winter.
Pakistan poised to attract major chunk of Winter Mountaineering Expeditions with the reduced Royalty fee
Winter mountaineering is back in the limelight, all set to carve an altogether new episode of human endurance in the world of mountaineering. Pakistan, with her five mighty 8000ers in the rugged Karakorum and Himalayas, is again leading the table with the lowest royalty fee on these snow caps, attracting hordes of ambitious climbers.
Bracing the bloody War on Terror for more than a whole decade, the Tourism Ministry which comes along with her own lacunae, has tried yet again to lure in the mighty climbers to the three horrendous challenges, the K-2, Broad Peak and the Nanga Parbat, the only three 8000ers in the world which have not been climbed in the winters.
The Gilgit-Baltistan Council, which is now managing the tourism in the province on its own, has announced zero percent Royalty fee in winters on all 6500m peaks in the region, many of which are still virgin and unnamed.
Apart from that, the Council has upheld the reduced Royalty fee on all five 8000ers, which is significantly lower than what is being offered in Nepal and China for that matter.
K-2 is now available for Summer Expeditions of a full seven-member team for 7200 US$ while those who dare to attempt this deadly peak in winters, will only have to pay five percent of the Royalty fee given that the expedition is undertaken strictly following the rules of Winter Mountaineering from December-February.
Remaining four 8000ers are available for just 5400US$ in summers and for five percent Royalty fee of the same in winters.
The new breakdown has gathered interest of the mountaineers from all over the world as the fee being offered is significantly lower than what is offered by Nepal, for instance, a whooping 16000US$ for Everest and around 14500US$ for the rest of the 8000ers.
The reduced royalty fee for the five 8000ers have been effective since 2001 when the government decided to improve the inflow of mountaineering in the region which has been defamed by the International media but has proven to be relatively safe and benign in the following years.
Several high-profile winter expeditions have already arrived in Islamabad and are proceeding to Skardu to undertake the unthinkable.
Nanga Parbat, the 8,125m peak in the western off-shoot of Himalayas, has attracted the most number of expeditions and will take the center stage in the coming months.