Ten Nepali mountaineers from three different expeditions made winter ascent to the summit of the world’s second-highest mountain located in Pakistan — the last of the 14 peaks in the world above 8,000m high that was yet to be climbed in winter.
The Nepalis had decided not to take individual credit for the climb, but claim the achievement on behalf of Nepal. The group stopped 10m below the top and took the final steps together to be on the top simultaneously.
The climbers on top on Saturday were Nirmal Purja, Gelje Sherpa, Mingma David Sherpa, Mingma G, Sona Sherpa, Mingma Tenzi Sherpa, Pem Chhiri Sherpa, Dawa Temba Sherpa, Kili Pemba Sherpa, and Dawa Tenjing Sherpa. They were originally from three different teams but came together to share the glory for Nepal, singing the national anthem as they took the final steps to the summit together.
“A very special moment. We are proud to have been a part of history for humankind and to show that collaboration, teamwork and a positive mental attitude can push limits to what we feel might be possible,” wrote Purja, on Facebook.
Mingma Gyalje Sherpa wrote on social media just before the final push: “We have made Nepal and Nepal’s climbing community proud.”
The Nepali climbers on K2 are from an all-Nepali expedition led by Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, Nims Purja’s team, and a Seven Summit Treks group.
Ten climbers from Nepal left Camp 4 at 1 AM on Saturday, and negotiated the dangerous Bottleneck couloir, and made the traverse, fixing ropes as they went and got to the top before 5 PM on Saturday.
However, because of the late hour that they got to the summit, the descent down ice slopes in the dark, cold and wind has been challenging for the exhausted climbers.
“Unfortunately, we lost Sergi. Best climber and very good friend of us” wrote Chhang Dawa Sherpa on social media. Spanish Climber, Sergie Mingote, fell into a crevasse suddenly while descending from C1 to Basecamp, which is supposed to be a relatively less dangerous strip. He had been attempting to climb all 14 highest peaks without supplementary oxygen within 1000 days when he had been forced to abandon expeditions due to the Covid outbreak, last year.
At 8,611m, K2 is regarded as being more difficult than Mt Everest because of the highly technical nature of the climbing required near the summit. In winter, with the temperature plunging to below -40 Celsius and the 200km/h jet stream blowing full blast near the summit, the ascent was regarded as impossible.
At least 60 climbers from four different expeditions have already reached the Karakoram region to attempt to climb K2 this season.
Since the first winter attempt in 1987, only a handful of winter expeditions have been made on K2 but none of them made it to above 7,650m. Even in summer, since the first ascent in 1954, only 450 people scaled the mountain.
Meanwhile, the President of the Nepal Mountaineering Association Santa Bir Lama congratulated Nepali climbers for creating history in the mountaineering world. Everest Summiteers Association chief Maya Sherpa also said that their achievement made the entire mountaineering community proud. Furthermore, Everest summiteer and NMA member Shiva Bahadur Sapkota wished for their safe descent. “They have proved the strength and determination of Nepali climbers,” Sapkota added.
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