Climber’s fate hangs in limbo as the security agencies delay clearance of climbing permits for Nanga ParbatRead Now
No fewer than three expeditions have already reached Islamabad in a bid to climb the Killer Mountain Nanga Parbat for the first winter ascent while another two expeditions are scheduled to arrive in the mid of December. These renowned mountaineers, some of them attempting Nanga Parbat in winters for the sixth time are main stream mountaineers and arguably some of the best in the business. Having tight sponsorships and limited resources, the teams are now waiting in Islamabad for clearance from the security agencies of Pakistan and are unsure whether their ambitious plans will ever see the light of the day.
Italian ace Simone Moro along with his climbing partner Tamara Lunger arrived in Islamabad on December 9th and is currently weighing his options to climb the 7027 meter Spantik for acclimatization before they begin their incredible ascent of the 8,125m Nanga Parbat which has never been climbed in winters.
Winter Alpinism is currently the most exciting form of mountaineering around the world and out of the 14 eight thousand meters peaks in the world, Pakistan offers the two remaining peaks which have never been climbed in winters. K2 and Nanga Parbat have until now stood their ground despite several consecutive attempts in the past decades.
Polish climber Tomek Mackiewicz also arrived on December 9th and has already made it to Chilas waiting on his partner French climber Elisabeth Revol who landed in Islamabad on 11th. The respective tour operators filed for the permits almost three months ago although the GB Council requires a tour operator to file for the permit about four to six weeks prior to the arrival of the expedition.
Pakistan has already been facing dearth of international tourists who are reluctant to step into Pakistan in wake of the prevalent security conditions. Mountaineering expeditions comprise mostly of orthodox climbers and mountaineers who are otherwise ready to risk it all for their intended goals. Delaying permits and making things financially difficult for such expeditions portrays a sorry story of the bureaucratic parleys which can only bring bad name to the country and further down slide our status as a tourist friendly country.
As the scientists from all over the world gather to analyze the impact of the 7.9 magnitude earthquake which struck Nepal on 25th April, many are intrigued to calculate the latest height of the highest mountain on earth. Mount Everest base camp was smothered badly from the gushing ice and rock filled avalanches right after the shocks, instantly leveling the makeshift camps and killing no fewer than 18 climbers and trekkers.
The latest satellite pictures were gathered from the Europe’s Sentinel-1A radar satellite which circled on top of Mount Everest in its orbit sending over latest images of the disaster. The preliminary data can not only help in the relief efforts but is providing valuable data to the geologists to analyze the overall change in the tectonics of the region.
Stephen Hicks, one of the leading Seismologists from the University of Liverpool United Kingdom said, "I think this will give us our clearest insight into the workings of the faults along the Himalayan front,"
From the earlier reports, a huge chunk of land measuring 75 miles (120 kilometers) in length and 30 miles (50 km) in width has risen to almost three feet rendering severe damage to the capital Kathmandu. There is also strong evidence that Mount Everest standing at 8,850 meters above sea level has been reduced by a few meters although the Himalayas are still believed to be rising every year by four centimeters.
Similar is the case with K-2, the second highest and only 239 meters short in height to Everest. Standing at 8611 meters above sea level, K-2 is contending close to Everest in its bid to be the highest mountain on earth.
The radar images testify that Everest has undergone a reduction in its height. The nonprofit Geoscience consortium UNAVCO believes that more and severe aftershocks are yet to come as the breakage in the tectonic plates has not yet reached the earth crust.
The total causalities have risen to 4000 as the relief and rehabilitation work is in progress. K-2, although shorter in height, is considered as one of the most difficult and dangerous mountains to climb. Everest, however, is relatively easier and less hazardous for climbing expeditions.
Nanga winter climb abandoned: K-2 and Nanga in the rugged North of Pakistan survive yet another winterRead Now
As the news pours in from the top of the ninth highest mountain in the world, the ambitious team has now abandoned its plan of conquering the Savage Mountain in wake of the deteriorating conditions and is now retreating to the Base Camp set up at Kinshofer Route on the Diamir Side.
The decision came in after the final summit push in the wee hours of Friday went berserk and Alex, Daniele and Ali missed the planned route of ascent and traversed over. Upon realization, it was decided best to halt any more attempts as the team members were exhausted beyond limits.
Alex tweeted, “At night, in the dark, we passed away the corridor that should had climbed. We made a too long traverse and from the point we reached it was not possible to go up".
It is now more than obvious from the last pictures received that the team missed the point where they had to make the final climb by a mere few feet arguably due to fatigue and exhaustion.
The team hadn’t had more than four hours of sleep in two days following gruesome climbing of more than ten hours a day to make it to Camp 4. The rightful decision of giving up came when the radio contact wore out and Muhammad Khan in the BC started to get impatient with no news of the team from 7950 meters.
“After spending the afternoon discussing, they've finally agreed that the most responsible decision is TO GIVE UP and come down to BC tomorrow”. Alex further added, “Communication by radio was very difficult, tomorrow we'll know more about the reasons.”
The team is gradually descending to the Base Camp from where they will pack their gear and bid adieu to the mighty giant which stays unbeaten for over 27 times and decades of attempts.
Nanga Parbat has once again defied the charms of modern technology, truck loads of human perseverance and mammoth determination.
K-2 and Nanga in the rugged North of Pakistan have survived yet another winter.
The chase is finally in place as the team not only managed to reach Camp 4 but have now started their final summit push on the Nanga Parbat for the first winter ascent. Spaniard Alex Txikon confirmed his position in the wee hours of Friday morning, reassuring that the battle is still very much on.
On the way! Alex Txikon by walkie: “Didn’t slept but at least had rest, we are leaving in half an hour. It’s incredibly cold. We’re not going to fix rope, not now: this is only about 30º steep and snow is hard but helds very good”.
The team of four Alex, Daniele Nardi, Muhammad Khan and Ali Sadpara were able to reach Camp 4 yesterday although their schedule was completely overthrown. It almost took ten hours to complete what they initially thought to be a six hour climb. Battered and exhausted, the team had hardly enough sleep to replenish their energy levels and is now heading towards the summit of the 8,126m Savage Mountain which has never been climbed in winters.
As per plan, Alex, Daniele and Ali will attempt the final summit push at 2 in the morning of Friday, March the 13th. The weather window is likely to last for another day, giving enough room to the exhausted climbers to summit the peak successfully. The return, however, may turn out to be a little off the schedule as the weather forecast is brimming with bad news.
The descent will test the mettle of the team which is already under severe stress and fatigue.
Nanga Parbat first successful winter climb has never been so close as it is today.
The high altitude drama at Nanga Parbat continues as the snow battered team plans to attempt for the second summit push in a matter of coming two days and conquer the 8,126 metre Savage Mountain for the first time in the dead of winters. Spaniard Alex Txikon, Italian Daniele Nardi along with Pakistani climbers Muhammad Khan and Ali Sadpara have now ideally crossed the threshold of safe zone and have reportedly reached Camp 2 on Kinshofer Route on the Diamir Face.
The team is hoping to engage a weather window in the coming two days and pitch their final attempt for the summit before the official deadline for the season expires.
Nardi, a relatively less experienced climber in terms of winter climbing is accompanied by Alex who is well versed with winter climbing but the team lacks the wisdom of the likes of Simone Moro or the muscle of the likes of Adam Bielecki. The weather window in the treacherous Pakistani Himalayas is uncertain for the moment and the team is likely to get into deep trouble once they climb beyond Camp 3. Needless to say, Nanga Parbat and K2 are the only two 8000ers which have not been climbed in winters, which makes the trophy all the more special.
Reporting from The Camp 2, Alex wrote, “They were quite slow at first because snow is still too deep in the traverse that goes to the west up to the first corner (5.150m) and also along the first pitches inside the corridor. So deep that they couldn’t find the first fixed rope and needed to climb without it up to 5.600 metres altitude: “Last 20 metres were very steep and we were quite scary”.
Base Camp, meanwhile, is suffering from low rations and severe dearth of supplies. Back up supplies have been delayed due to constant bad weather hindering the movement of porters in the rugged Diamir side of the mountain. Nanga Parbat has faced no fewer than 25 winter expeditions from the times of the legendary Jerzy Kukuczka and Krzysztof Wielicki but none of them bore fruits.
If all goes well, a possible bivouac is expected at camp 4 before the team will undertake the unimaginable and summit the peak for the first time in winter.
The world awaits and watch anxiously as the top climbers in the world gear up to confront the savage giant K-2 with its fury increased many folds in the rugged Karakorum winters-of what can easily be regarded as the deadliest climbing expedition imaginable. Kazak Denis Urubko, Spaniard Alex Txikon and Pole Adam Bielecki are all set to kick off with their latest expedition the first winter ascent of K-2, the deadlier and still one of the two impregnable mountains in winters.
With a blistering record as their armor, the troika remains one of the potent threats to the mighty K-2 which has denied a winter ascent to ambitious climbers for the last several years. The current expedition is the latest after the tragic end of the Russian Winter Expedition to K-2 back in 2012-2013 where they lost one of their ace climbers Vitaly Gorelik who died of extreme exhaustion and pneumonia at the Base Camp. Gorelik had returned after successfully shifting gear to Camp-3 at 7600m near the Death Valley.
Given the credentials of the then Russian expedition, many still hold the view that if the Russian Giants could not tame the mighty k-2 no one on earth can.
41-year-old Urubko, often considered as a Russian Climber actually hails from Kazakhstan and is already weighing his options to move to Poland on permanent basis. A proud summiteer of all the 14 Eight Thousanders in alpine style, Urubko comes with a plethora of accolades which he has acquired during the course of his climbing career.
In the year 1999, Urubko achieved international recognition as a world class alpinist during the Snow Leopard Project with his remarkable ascents of the five 7000m peaks in 42 days. Being father of this idea, and a veteran of the 2002-2003 Russian Winter Expedition to K-2, Urubko will be leading the expedition.
“It was my desire and my idea for K-2 in winter”, Urubko said while talking to the press. “I shared that with Alex and Adam, they felt the vibe and put the same energy as I did…. Now, this is a big duty for each of us. I am the leader of the expedition indeed”.
The team has chosen the Chinese side of the K-2, otherwise considered as one of the most difficult routes to the top of the 8611 m Granite structure but the team insists that the “normal” route to the top gets extremely difficult in winters.
Some 600lbs of gear is currently being transported to the K-2 Base Camp on the Chinese Side ahead of the expedition which will kick off in the mid of December.
Three day long Broghil Festival in the remote Broghil Valley of Chitral has come to an end with revved up hullabaloo from travelers and tourists from all over the country and beyond.
The festival has seen an increased participation from the tourists especially after the completion of the 45km jeep track to the valley built by the Chitral Scouts and the Pakistan Army. The festival was organized under the auspices of Chitral Scouts who are also the guardians of the difficult terrain in the heart of Hindukush.
Like always, the centre of attraction of the festival remained the knee-crushing Yak Polo, which stands as the Hallmark of the Broghil Valley. This Polo Match eventually leads to successful bidding of the strongest yaks which have stood out in the competition. The Broghil Polo team won the match by one goal defeating their rivals the Gilgit Baltistan team.
Other attractions included Horse Polo, buzz kashi, donkey polo, horse race, yak race, horse and cattle show etc. For those less interested in sports, gathered at the various stalls selling traditional Wakhi handicrafts, clothing, gear and other local items. The festival also offered delicious Wakhi cuisine including bar-b-cue, Hareesa, lamb rosh and other local dishes.
The closing ceremony was presided over by General Officer Commanding, Swat Division, Maj-Gen Javed Mehmud Bukhari who announced that the festival will be held every year, bringing more tourists to the valley, thereby elevating the essentials to radically improve the economic conditions of the otherwise remote region in the northern areas of Pakistan. The General later also inaugurated a micro Hydropower station built by utilizing local resources and manpower. He also distributed gifts among the winners and other participants.
The Broghil Festival as is known today got its name only recently, a direct result of the influx of the tourists and travelers but the festival finds its roots in the ancient times and has been the meeting place for the nomads travelling along the legendary Wakhan Corridor into Tajikistan, Kirghizstan and beyond. The exchange of pleasantries between various groups of nomadic traders and herders has been the focal point in the culture and traditions of the Wakhi People of the region.
Read more: http://www.pakistan-explorer.com/articles/the-afghan-kyrgyz-nomads-of-the-wakhan-corridor-retracing-the-legendary-silk-route-of-modern-day-pakistan
Simone Moro finally unveiled his winter ascent of the Killer Mountain Nanga Parbat in a mega press conference at Monaco of Bavaria, Italy. Pitching for his second attempt of the 8,126m in winters, Moro also revealed his team of three climbers German David Gottler and his country mate Emilios Previtali, both of whom were a matter of surprise for the media men as Denis Urubko, Moro’s all weather compatriot in winter ascents was missing.
As if this was not enough, Moro took the crowd by storm when he declared his route to the top-the deadly Schell route on Rupal Face, known as the 10th highest elevation gains on earth in shortest distance. More than 4600m of steep and unforgiving granite structure challenges the mountaineers every year and many lose their lives in hopes of summiting the peak, let alone doing it in shearing winter winds and bone freezing temperatures.
Referring to his selection of route, Moro said:
“The Diamir until two months ago was closed, due to the terrorist attack, so I decided to change the slope although there had already built a bivouac (now used by shepherds) and a hospital. But these things do not give any guarantee of safety. Sometimes they can give rather annoying. So we're going from Rupal, there is the way in preventive Schell. It's tough. It’s the most logical, the least dangerous, is monstrously long because the base camp is only 3500 meters, is the highest wall in the world. From Diamir we left at least 4,000 meters. But do not deny that I want to assess the situation on the spot, if the way it was in dangerous conditions I would think of other solutions uphill”.
The absence of the valiant Urubko resonated the conference room. To a question regarding Urubko’s absence Moro replied,
“He is afraid of possible terrorist attacks, after what happened this summer at the base camp of the Diamir, which killed 11 mountaineers. I tried to convince him, because we were staying at Nanga together two years ago, and the way he liked it. But he preferred to avoid, just as a matter of risk. I'm really sorry for Denis.”
Moro admitted that due to the unpredictable security situation in the region, He will be escorted by an armed guard for the first time in his career. A proud conqueror of three 8000er’s in hardcore winters. Moro will be attempting the Killer Mountain for the second time. Rupal Face poses a unique challenge to the mountaineers worldwide and climbing this route in winters will test the mettle of the 46-year-old Italian ace.
Beast of the East vs. The Ice Warrior: Italian ace Simone Moro returns to conquer Nanga Parbat for the first Winter AssentRead Now
It was about the same time two years ago when Simone Moro and Denis Urubko were camped in the frigid Western Himalayas at the Base Camp of Nanga Parbat in hopes to conquer the Killer Mountain for the first time in winters.
Following his own doctrine for winter Himalanism, Moro waited patiently in his warm and embracing Base Camp, erected from stones and straw rooftop and kept a close watch for the right weather conditions to make their charge.
Jotting down data on his portable, solar-chargeable laptop, coordinating with the weather wizard Karl Gable in Switzerland, cross checking his route to the peak of the 8,125m Nanga Parbat, Moro’s wait never came to an end. The team of two left the Base Camp in February 2011 failing to conquer the mighty beast.
“Preparation, self-training, logistics and technology are vital supports for alpine projects like this one on Nanga Parbat. They make all the difference, as seen last year on the successful Gasherbrum II expedition. However, in the end, the relationship is between man and mountain; if nature doesn't’t offer the perfect conditions to reach the objective, this doesn't have to be considered as a failure, but as an experience for future projects,” reflected Simone Moro.
Moro has now been reported to be returning to make yet another attempt to bag the mighty peak for the first winter assent. Nanga Parbat and K-2 are the only two 8000ers in the world which have not been climbed in winters. Despite several attempts by renowned mountaineers, Nanga Parbat has time and again refused climbers a free pass to the top.
Never climbed in winters, Nanga Parbat poses potential threat to climbers above 6500 meters. The wind speed at such high altitude at Nanga Parbat soars to a blistering 160k/h and temperatures drop down to -40 Celsius exposing climbers to instant frostbite. here to edit.
Moro is scheduled to announce his plan on November 28th in a press conference where he will also reveal the route to the peak and possibly his compatriots who will be accompanying him on the dangerous expedition. Urubko, who has been Moro’s partner in the successful 2009 Makalu Winter Expedition and again in 2011 in Gasherbrum-1 first winter accent, is likely to team up with Moro to tame the Killer Mountain.
Italy-Pakistan Friendship Expedition 2013: Pakistani climber Shaheen Baig all set to conquer Ama Dablam in NepalRead Now
One of the most underrated and probably one of the finest climbers of the country, Mr. Shaheen Baig is all set to conquer the famous Ama Dablam in Nepal en route to become the first Pakistani to conquer an autumn peak in Nepal. Boasting an already blistering feathery cap of several mighty peaks, Baig is one of the most sought after High Altitude Porter (HAP) in Pakistan and is constantly hired by the tough foreign expeditions aspiring to conquer the difficult 8000ers in Karakorum.
Baig will be part of the Italy-Pakistan Friendship Expedition 2013 and will be joining hands with Elena Simona, one of the veteran Italian female climbers who have made several fruitful stopovers in Pakistan. She visited Pakistan some eleven years ago and returned to conquer Masherbrum last year, also with her accomplice the formidable Baig.
According to the latest news coming in through the satellite phones, the expedition is currently facing severe bad weather as constant snow fall continues to disrupt any movement so far. The team is getting short of the permitted days to execute and complete the expedition before the weather gets unbearable.
Earlier the expedition reached an altitude of 6000m on the 6,856m peak but had to return to base camp in wake of deteriorating weather conditions.
About Shaheen Baig
Baig, like many of his compatriots hailing from the prolific Shimshal Valley, has conquered the K-2 during the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the first ascent in 2004. He is also the conqueror of the Gasherbrum-2 in the year 2001 and has remained a priceless backup support in the successful Polish Expeditions of G-1 for the first winter ascent 2011/2012 and Broad Peak first winter ascent 2012/2013.
Baig’s career kicked off in the year 1995 when he had a chance to support a foreign expedition as HAP. His phenomenal courage and endurance always helped him get a place in big expeditions since. Ever ready to volunteer for a Search and Rescue Operation (SAR), Baig remains one of the most wanted HAP on the list of all foreign high altitude expeditions visiting Pakistan.
Baig spearheaded the SAR for the retrieval of the body of a Japanese climber on Lady Finger Peak in 1997. He was recalled for another Japanese SAR expedition launched for the retrieval of the body of a missing climber on Passu Peak. He participated in the Magic Line Spanish Expedition on K-2 to bring back the body of a dead climber. Baig also made an attempt to search for the missing Polish climbers Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski in last year’s Broad Peak first winter ascent.
About Ama Dablam
Ama Dablam, the 6, 856m peak is the third most popular Himalayan peak in Nepal with respect to the number of expeditions on it each year. The Southwest ridge is the most frequently climbed route towards the peak and climbers establish no fewer than three camps before making the final summit push. Much like K-2, Ama Dablam poses a looming threat near the peak where a huge hanging Serac continues to test the nerves of climbers.
The Serac broke way in 2006 killing around six climbers and wiping out camp-3 and fixed ropes all the way. Ama Dablam was first climbed on 13 March 1961 by Mike Gill (NZ), Barry Bishop (USA), Mike Ward (UK) and Wally Romanes (NZ) via the Southwest Ridge.