Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Polish Team Prepares for Winter Ascent of K2

A few weeks back I took a look at some of the upcoming mountaineering expeditions scheduled to take place this coming winter. Chief amongst them was the Polish team that is targeting K2 this year, which as you know is the only 8000-meter peak that remains unclimbed during the winter season. Now, we're starting to get more details on this attempt, and it is safe to say that this team is incredibly serious about reaching the summit of the "Savage Mountain."

Alan Arnette has posted a story about the expedition, sharing some interesting insights into their approach to the climb. He notes that the squad will consist of Adam Bielecki, Marek Chmielarski, Rafał Fronia, Janusz Gołąb, Marcin Kaczkan, Artur Małek, Piotr Tomala, Jarosław Botor, Dariusz Załuski, and Denis Urubko. The team leader for the expedition famed Polish alpinist Krzysztof Wielicki, who is 67 years-old but comes with a wealth of experience. Wielicki lead the last Polish K2 attempt in 2003 and has summited all of the 8000-meter peaks without supplemental oxygen.

Unlike teams in the past who have arrived on the mountain on December 21 – the first day of winter – the Poles are planning on reaching Base Camp sometime after Christmas. They'll apparently be bringing a lot of gear and supplies with them, as the team reportedly has 600 kg (1322 pounds) of cargo that is being carried by porters, while they'll bring another 400 kg (881 pounds) themselves. Alan also reports that the Polish Ministry of Sport and Tourism is backing the winter attempt on K2 with $275,000 in funds as well.

The current plan is to make the attempt up the Česen Route, although the Poles haven't ruled out scouting the Abruzzi Route either. If conditions prove better on one of those paths as compared to the other, this gives them the flexibility to change course. As Alan points out, their biggest obstacle is likely to be the weather, which is extremely challenging even during the summer months. Cold temperatures, high winds, heavy snow, and unexpected avalanches have all conspired to keep previous winter attempts from reaching the summit, and this season will likely be no different.

At the moment, we're still several weeks away from the start of the expedition, but the team is now hurriedly putting their last minute plans together, preparing for journey to Pakistan, and the long weeks ahead of them in a cold and inhospitable place. This climb will not be easy and will test them from day 1, and of course we'll be following it closely in the days ahead. It should be a fascinating adventure to say the least.

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