By Jamal Shahid
ISLAMABAD: After retreating to the safety of their base camps about three weeks back, climbers are back on Nanga Parbat and have set up Camp IV at the height of 7,000 metres.
“Friday offered a clear window to the Polish and Italian mountaineering expeditions to push forward. It was not too cold, winds were calmer and the sky was clear too,” said Karrar Haidri, member executive council of the Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP).
German mountaineer Ralf Dujmovits and his team member ended the climb in the first week of January, anticipating dangers of avalanches above their camp. The remaining two Italian and Polish win-
ter expeditions were also presumably packing up.
According to the ACP, it was not just the obvious hazards like extreme cold, ice and risks of avalanches. “One of the main reasons behind the failure was continuous bad weather,” said Mr Ilaidri, explaining how in the nearly 25 years 17 climbing expeditions, including some of the finest mountaineers, had unsuccessfully attempted to capture the 8,126 metres high peak, also called the killer mountain, in the winter season.
Mr Haidri also explained how after months of preparation the Polish expedition on the Schell Route had been waiting for a clear weather by February 10 for a summit push. But a combination of intense cold, stormy winds and predictions of deteriorating weather forced the climbers to return to the base camp.
“Nonetheless, the climbers waited patiently and climbed again whenever there was a clear window. And now Tomek Mackiewicz and his teammate David Gottler spent last night 7,000 metres on the mountain,” said Mr Haidri.
The two climbed in sunny and windless conditions to reach that high. Measuring in a straight line Tomek Mackiewicz and David Gottler were approximately 3,500 metres above the base camp, said the ACP official, explaining how it was still a long and challenging climb to the top.
This is the second time Tomek Mackiewicz has reached this high. Although physically fit to push on, bad weather forced him to abandon his climb in February last year. He had turned back from the height of 7,400 metres.
However, the Italian climber, Simone Moro, has not had so much luck so far. Conqueror of all 14 eight thousand-plus peaks and best known for being the first ever to summit Gasherbrum II in the winter of 2011, Moro was back in the base camp again recovering. He turned back between Camp II and Camp HI after his health did not allow him to push forward.
Mr Haidri said capturing the summit now depended on how good the weather would turn out in the next 48 hours for the climbers to accomplish their goals.