International expedition seeks to become the first to scale Mt K2 in winter

Kathmandu, Dec 14 (efe-epa).- A group of 55 mountaineers from different countries is all set to kick off an expedition to try and meet the last major challenge in mountaineering: climb world’s second biggest peak Mount K2 (8,611 meters, 28251 feet) in winter.

The director general of Nepalese mountaineering agency Seven Summit Treks, which is managing the expedition, told EFE that on Monday a first group of Sherpa climbers left from Kathmandu to head towards K2, which is spread over both sides of the border between Pakistan and China.

Mt K2 is the only one out of the world’s 14 tallest peaks, with heights of over 8,000 meters, which has not been scaled in winter.

The complexity of a K2 expedition during this time of the year, when it is more prone to avalanches and witnesses temperatures of up to minus 50 degrees celsius along with wind speeds of 200 kph (124 mph), has made it a near-impossible task.

Nepalese Chhang Dawa, 38, the youngest mountaineer to climb all the 14 eight-thousanders, is set to lead the K2 mission, which also includes 26 of his compatriots.

The co-leader of the group is experienced Spanish climber Sergei Mingote, who was on a quest to climb all the 14 peaks without supplementary oxygen within 1,000 days when he had to abandon the mission due to Covid-19 restrictions, after having scaled seven of the summits.

The group also includes alpinists from the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Poland, Greece, Spain, Slovenia, Romania, Switzerland, Italy, Chile, the United States and Finland, who will meet in Pakistan on Dec. 20, a day before kicking off the ascent.

Nepalese climber Nirmal “Nims” Purja, who broke the record for climbing all the 14 eight-thousanders in the shortest time, describes the winter ascent of K2 as “the last great mountaineering challenge” on his website.

The two-month long expedition is expected to end by Feb. 28.

Last winter, Spaniard Alex Txikon led one of two expeditions to K2 with a team mainly consisting of Nepalese Sherpa climbers, but failed to reach the top.

“The K2 winter feat is very tough. If any member of the team climbs (the peak), it will be another milestone in the mountaineering history: the first winter ascent of the world’s second-tallest mountain,” Kami Rita Sherpa, who holds the record for most Everest ascents (24), told EFE.

“It’s difficult even to reach the base camp of K2. We have to trek the glacier for a week to reach the base camp and there aren’t any lodging and food facilities on the way up,” he said.

Mt K2 was first climbed in summer 1954 by Italian mountaineers Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli. EFE-EPA


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