Group winter ascent of K2 ‘message of unity’ for the world

Islamabad, Jan 23 (efe-epa).- Nirmal Purja, the leader of the expedition of 10 Nepalis who became the first to complete a winter ascent of K2, the second highest mountain in the world, said Saturday that having reached the summit as a group simultaneously is a powerful message of unity for the world.

“It is a powerful message to the rest of the world. If you are united you can win, (…) divided you fail,” said the former Gurkha soldier, the elite corps of the British Army made up of Nepalese, at a press conference in Islamabad.

Purja explained how on Saturday, 10 meters from the summit, the mountaineers waited for each other to summit “shoulder to shoulder” at the same time, something decided collectively beforehand.

“The way and style and the manner we climbed the k2 is completely fair,” said the only climber in the expedition who is not a member of the Sherpa ethnic group, who have traditionally worked as porters in the shadow of famous international mountaineers.

Purja was joined by Mingma David Sherpa, Mingma Tenzing Sherpa, Sona Sherpa, Galjen Sherpa, Pem Chiri Sherpa, Dawa Temba Sherpa, Dawa Tenjin Sherpa, Kili Pemba Sherpa, and Mingma Gyalze Sherpa.

Purja, who holds the record for having climbed all 14 eight-thousanders in the shortest time, said the ascent of K2 (which is 8,611 meters high) in winter had not been achieved before because it is among the most difficult to climb, with “horrendous” temperatures below -50 degrees and hurricane-force winds.

“K2 has a higher ratio of deaths than any other mountain and that’s in summer, in winter it’s next level,” said the athlete.

K2 has claimed the lives of one in three climbers who have reached the summit, with 84 fatalities and more than 300 summits. The last one to die was Spanish climber Sergi Mingote, who did not survive a fall on the day of the long-awaited winter feat.

Purja admitted that in the most difficult moments of the climb he considered giving up and turning back, but he held on, trusted in himself and finally reached the historic summit, an attitude that he says can be applied to other areas of life.

“We all have a mountain to climb. If you trust in yourself anything is possible,” he said. EFE-EPA

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