Broad Peak winter update
"The sun set and we were still climbing…"
"Yesterday we woke up to blue sky and no wind and immediately decided to organize a summit attempt."
"We knew we had less than two days of good weather, and would have to go from BC straight to camp 3, with a summit push the next morning. We left BC around 8 am and immediately ran into deep snow. Reaching camp 1 was hard work, so we took our time to break trail in order to make it there."
"We rested about 30 minutes in camp 1 and then continued to camp 2, where we reached at 3:00 pm. We collected our things and continued to camp 3 (7200m/24000 ft). The wind increased as we climbed, and the temperature dropped to around -40."
"The sun set and we were still climbing…reaching camp 3 in darkness, completely frozen."
"In the dark, we chopped at the ice with our axes"
"We tried to establish camp but our platform had disappeared. The wind had left only green ice in its place, and there was no flat area to set camp. We were chopping at the ice with our ice axes, but our hands, nose, lips, and faces froze deeper."
"Finally I decided we would have to grab our heavy backpacks and return to C2. We fell into our tent, exhausted, at 10:30 pm. In one day, we had climbed 2500 meters up and 700 down... in winter."
"The wind increased through the night and didn’t let us get any sleep. This morning it was clear that a summit push was impossible, it would have been a suicide in that kind of cold and strong wind."
"We decided to return to BC, and bring all our gear with us. After two months here and last night's attempt, we can honestly say that we truly did our best."
Climbing in the deepest winter
Winter climbers say that the weather is worst through January and February. Fernando Garrido who did the first 8000+ solo winter climb in the world back in 1988, described his February 6 Cho Oyu summit “The coldest night of my life.”
ExplorersWeb got a sat phone call from Simone Moro last night. He and Shaheen had just arrived in camp following a 13 hour climb, the last hours in complete darkness. Due to the difficulty of the ascent, the mountaineers had not been eating or drinking for the entire time and Simone reported deep cold. He was short of breath, tired, but pretty revved up. His Italian-American report came over the satphone with the speed of a shotgun.
In 2003, Simone climbed Broad Peak straight from BC, staying in C2 for only 4 hours and then climbed straight to the summit. The difference in winter though, he said, is that sun arrives later in the mornings, providing less time for the final climb.
Before their marathon summit push, Simone and Shaheen had already spent the worst of winter on Broad Peak, at high altitude, with only thin canvas for comfort. The long climb yesterday and the bad weather this morning, finally forced the two climbers to surrender.
A remarkable expedition
In spite of the failed summit, Simone has performed a remarkable expedition. When he couldn't persuade fellow climbers to come with him, he decided to go alone - until Pakistan climber Shaheen showed up. When he couldn't get a cameraman, he did all the work himself, using the latest technology to document the climb throughout the difficult conditions - in times when many climbers have a hard time just to work a sat phone, let alone editing HD films and managing satellite modems without a crew.
Faced with red tape early on, Simone took time to trek over to the Polish team on Nanga Parbat and even brought some much needed rope for the climbers.
Finally at Broad Peak, Simone's skill to read weather forecasts showed in the fast order he and Shaheen managed to establish all high camps. The climbers did many of the technical sections without rope, and didn't use fixed lines. They carried helmet mounted webcams, filming for Canon and shooting over numerous videos straight from BC after the climbs.
The climbers were alone in Himalaya. Statistics confirm that we shy away from off season climbs these days. Since the new millennium; Everest suffers overcrowded slopes in spring - while remaining deserted in fall. Simone and Shaheen were different.
“In recent years a total withdrawal from wintertime climbing can be observed in the Tatras, the Alps, and the Himalayas," wrote Krzysztof in his manifest. Winter giants seem locked doors that can only be opened with a sword. Simone and Shaheen showed us that we might not always conquer the seemingly impossible. But there's a great power in trying.
Click here for a video from the last attempt
North Face athlete Simone Moro, 38, has summited Mount Everest (three times), Broad Peak, Cho Oyu, Shisha Pangma (winter), Lhotse (twice) and 5 peaks over 7000 meters. He has the first winter climb of Marble Wall 6400m (Tien Shan), a 24-hour climb on Fitz Roy’s West Face (Patagonia), and many other climbs around the world. Simone and Piotr Morawski summited Shisha Pangma Friday January 14, 2005 at 1:15 pm (local) after a fast 5 hour climb in very strong winds. It was the first (real) winter ascent on a 8000er since 1988, and the first winter climb on Shisha Pangma.
The Shisha winter summit was in fact Simone’s fifth winter climb: To the tragic December attempt on Annapurna in 1997 when Boukreev died, Simone had successful climbs on Aconcagua and Cerro Mirador (new route in alpine style in 1993), and on Marble Wall - the northernmost and coldest 6000er in Central Asia - with Denis Urubko in 2001.
For the last two months, Simone has been attempting the first winter climb on Broad Peak. Originally he planned to climb solo, but teamed up with local climber Shaheen Baig, 28. Shaheen summited K2 in 2004 and GII in 2001. He has also scaled eight 7000ers.
None of the Pakistan’s 8000ers (K2, Nanga Parbat, Broad Peak, GI, and GII) have been summited in winter. In Nepal, only Makalu still remains unclimbed in winter. This year, Pakistan’s government has reduced the winter climbing fee to a nominal 5%.
Further information at: http://www.mounteverest.net/news.php?news=15680