Winter Suffer-fests on Four 8,000'ers

Makalu, the fifth-highest peak in the world. Courtesy of Simone Moro /

Makalu, the fifth-highest peak in the world. Courtesy of Simone Moro /

Attempted winter ascents of three 8,000-meter peaks are under way in Pakistan and Nepal. If successful, two of the climbs would be first winter ascents.

• Polish climbers Artur Hazjer and Robert Szymczak, along with Canadian Don Bowie, are attempting 8,047-meter Broad Peak in the Karakoram. The team established base camp just before Christmas and has already spent one night at Camp 2 at 6,300 meters. Temperature: —35°C (—31°F).

No 8,000-meter peak in Pakistan has seen a winter ascent. In recent winters, Italian Simone Moro has attempted Broad Peak twice with Pakistani climbers Shaheen Baig and Qudrat Ali. In early March 2008, Moro and Baig reached around 7,800 meters but did not have enough daylight to continue to the summit.

• Moro and Kazakh climber Denis Urubko are now in Kathmandu, about to launch their winter attempt on 8,463-meter Makalu, the world’s fifth-highest peak, and the last of the Nepali 8,000-meter peaks without a winter ascent. While porters carry their supplies to Makalu base camp, the two climbers will acclimatize in the Everest region.

Makalu has been attempted many times in winter, with bids by some of the most successful Himalayan climbers in history, including Renato Casarotto, Reinhold Messner, and Krzysztof Wielicki. In 2006 the French climber Jean Christophe Lafaille disappeared during a summit push above his final camp at 7,600 meters. Last season Urubko and fellow Kazakh climbers attempted the peak, along with an Italian team.

• A small Czech expedition is attempting 8,163-meter Manaslu in Nepal, which was first climbed in winter by a Polish team in 1984. The Czechs have established Camp 1 at 5,750 meters but have struggled to establish a route to Camp 2 through a maze of seracs and huge crevasses.

In late December, a Polish team abandoned an attempt on Nanga Parbat in Pakistan after reaching Camp 1. The expedition reported unreasonably dangerous conditions, with deep snow covering the mountain.

Meanwhile, in the Alps, Briton Andy Kirkpatrick is attempting a solo winter ascent of the Harlin Route on the north face of the Eiger. Kirkpatrick packed more than 10 days of food for the ascent, which began December 29. Unusually for a hard Alpine route, Kirkpatrick is blogging live from the Eiger, via an iPhone. You can read his revealing notes here.,,,

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