K2 in Winter – ‘All the World’s a Stage’

Perhaps K2 in winter is yet another of the ‘last great challenges.’

Or maybe it is just the beginning for climbers looking at ways to do more of the big peaks, by harder routes, in winter?

Or just maybe, right now, some of the worlds’ best high altitude climbers are tired of being cooped up at home?

K2 from Concordia, on a warm sunny day, Abruzzi Spur on the right.

For the next few months, some of the worlds highest profile climbers, undoubtably with egos to match, will be attempting to become the first to stand atop the worlds 2nd tallest mountain in winter.

In any case, K2 is soon to be, for K2 anyway, teaming with climbers, all hoping to make the first winter ascent.

‘And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances.’ William Shakespeare

The Climbers:

Seven Summits Treks is running an expedition with 10 or more climbers and an even larger Sherpa team, with overall leadership by Chhang Dawa Sherpa. This appears to be applying the traditional commercial approach used on other 8,000 meter peaks in regular climbing seasons, to K2 in winter. How this approach plays out and works with the other teams will certainly be interesting.

John Snorri Sigurjonsson, Muhammad Ali Sadpara and his son Sajid Ali Sadpara – a small team of three, just arrived in K2 Base Camp. With their tents ‘exploding’ already, they are facing the early season joys of a high-altitude winter.

Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, Dawa Tenzing Sherpa and Kilu Pemba Sherpa. An immensely strong and talented team of Sherpas with a host of both 8000 meter peaks, as well as winter Himalayan experience. Their expedition details and profiles are on their GoFundMe page.

Nims Purja has announced he will be also be making an attempt, though lets’ hope it is not really “the last great mountaineering challenge” as billed on his website.

On thé Gondogoro La, K2 on left in background, Broad Peak right. Guide Jo Clark escapes the Baltoro into the Hushe Valley.

The Season:

Cold really doesn’t begin to define the high mountains in winter. The mix of altitude, brutal temperatures, winds and storms will be at their peak over the next few months. K2 has always been the outlier in the chain of the worlds tallest peaks, taking the brunt of the worst storms as they sweep into the range.

Over the next week, temperatures will range from minus 20 c (-4 f) at Base Camp to minus 46 c (-51 f) at the summit – even allowing for some variances that is uncomfortably cold. With the added challenge of altitude and attempting to acclimatize, just existing will take on real challenges.