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3/6/12 – Two of the four Polish climbers who summited Broad Peak for its first winter ascent yesterday are missing. Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski fell behind their companions during the descent and spent the night at or near the high saddle at 7,900 meters on the 8,047-meter peak, while Adam Bielecki and Artur Malek continued down. Since 6:30 this morning, local time, there has been no communication with the two men at the high saddle.
According to reports from the expedition leaders, Bielecki and Malek safely reached the high camp at 7,400 meters, and both men have continued downward with the help of the expedition’s Pakistani climbers, one of whom climbed to about 300 meters below the saddle to look for the missing climbers. A storm is expected tomorrow (March 7), so there is little time left for a search or rescue.
3/5/12 – Four Polish climbers have extended their country’s remarkable tradition of high-altitude winter mountaineering by summiting Broad Peak in Pakistan for the first winter ascent. Maciej Berbeka, Adam Bielecki, Tomasz Kowalski, and Artur Malek reached the top of 8,047-meter Broad Peak, the world’s 12th-highest mountain, late in the day on March 5. The four men headed down to high camp and are expected to make their way to base camp on March 6.
In mid-February, two pairs of climbers on the team reached about 7,800 meters on separate days, but poor conditions and a difficult crevasse prevented them from going higher. For the successful bid, the four climbers left a high camp at 7,400 meters at 5:15 a.m. local time and reached the pass between Broad Peak’s two summits, at 7,900 meters, around noon. They topped out between 5:30 and 6 p.m. local time.
Of the dozen 8,000-meter peaks that now have been climbed in calendar winter, nine of the first winter ascents were by all-Polish teams, starting with the first winter ascent of Mt. Everest in 1980. (Piotr Morawski, also a Pole, climbed with Simone Moro to make the first winter ascent of Shisapangma—a tenth Polish success.) Krzystof Wielicki, who did the first winter ascent of Everest, Kangchenjunga, and Lhotse (solo) in the 1980s, led the 2013 expedition to Broad Peak.
Broad Peak had been attempted many times in winter, including four attempts by Polish teams. Way back in 1988, Maciej Berbeka, who summited the mountain this winter, climbed to the 8,027-meter fore-summit of Broad Peak, the highest anyone had climbed in the Karakoram until 2011. The first winter success on an 8,000-meter peak in Pakistan’s Karakoram was just two years ago, when Simone Moro, Denis Urubko, and Cory Richards bagged the summit of Gasherbrum II. Last winter, Gasherbrum I was climbed. Now, only two 8,000-meter summits that have never been reached in winter are K2 and Nanga Parbat.
Date of ascent: March 5, 2013