A team of Nepalese mountaineers made the first successful winter ascent of K2, the second highest peak on the planet which rises to 8,611 meters. This is the only « 8 000 » which had never been climbed during the winter winter, was proud of the Nepalese company Seven Summit Treks.
→ SERIES. Conquering the last 8,000 (1/4). K2, a giant never conquered in the Himalayan winter
” We did it ! The “wild mountain” of Karakoram was climbed during the most dangerous of seasons: in winter. Nepalese climbers finally reached the top of K2 this afternoon at 5:00 p.m. local (12:00 GMT) “, said on its Twitter account the company, which had a climber on the team.
Plant the flag of Nepal at the top
The ten Nepalese had planned to gather just under the summit of K2, located in the Karakoram massif and renowned as one of the most dangerous mountains in the world, to climb the last few meters together and plant their country’s flag there.
Known for decades for their aptitude for high mountains, the Nepalese had never before placed any climber on a first winter ascent to a summit of more than 8,000 meters, a specialty long remained the preserve of Polish mountaineers.
A handful of expeditions had previously attempted the winter climb, since the first attempt dates back to 1987-1988. But no one had yet climbed above 7650 meters. They all broke in the extreme conditions of K2, nicknamed the “Wild mountain”.
This victory is however mourned by the death of the Spanish mountaineer Sergi Mingote, who died during his expedition on K2, as announced on Saturday by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. “Sad death of Sergi Mingote on K2. He wanted to continue to make History by participating in the first expedition to overcome this summit in the middle of winter and his life was taken in a tragic accident ”, he tweeted, a few hours after the success of the Nepalese team.
Strong winds and thin air
The K2 is subjected in winter to a very violent wind which can reach 200 km / h. Temperatures can drop to – 60 ° on the summit parts. Due to its geographical location – it is the most northerly of all « 8 000 » -, the atmospheric pressure is also lower and the air rarer.
Winter is harsher in the Karakoram than in the Himalayas. This explains why most of the Nepalese peaks over 8,000 m were overcome in winter as early as the 1980s, while the four others located in Pakistan – besides K2 – were overcome in the 2010s.
This year, no less than four different teams and around sixty climbers were present on K2, more in total than all the previous expeditions put together.
Members of three of the four initial teams, the Nepalese regrouped to set the fixed ropes on Friday January 15 to Camp 4, at an altitude of 7,800 m. Then, they chose to be daring by taking advantage of a window of good weather, without wind, to attack the summit the next day.