The Polish team waves good bye from Nangas BC. Standing from left to right: Darek Zaluski, Jacek Jawien, Krzysztof Wielicki, Robert Szymczak, Przemek Lozinski, Krzysztof Tarasewicz, Jacek Berbeka. Kneeling down: Artur Hajzer and Tommy Heinrich. Image courtesy of the team/HiMountain (click to enlarge).

"You can't always win," said leader Krzysztof Wielicki (in the image). Maybe one day we will try again," added the team. Image courtesy of the team/HiMountain (click to enlarge).
Winter Nanga Parbat: Its over

Posted: Jan 18, 2007 03:37 pm EST
( We feel very sad by writing these words but we have decided to put an end to our expedition, reported the Polish team from Nanga Parbats BC. We are packing up and preparing for our return to Poland - the fifth Polish attempt to ascent Nanga Parbat in winter has turned out to be unsuccessful.

Freezing hell above 6000m

The climbing action took 38 days. We ascended 3300m up the mountain. Severe winter weather allowed our small team to climb the difficult terrain up to 6000m above that point there was only freezing hell: Temperature below -30°C and winds blowing at 70-100 kph. In such conditions we could climb no longer than 4 hours a day. Our progress slowed down, we were running out of energy.

We fixed over 4 km of ropes (!), which took a lot of stamina. Almost each of us went up the mountain at least 5 times these demanding climbs exhausted us physically and psychologically.

Better off without a summit but alive

We had hoped to ascend the mountain in a fast style but weather forecast gives us no chances to climb that way. Any further action would put our life and health in danger. For years Polish Himalayan expeditions have always returned with the summit or without it, but always with all their participants. We want to continue this tradition.

Next time we'll know better

The expedition was a new and valuable experience for us. We are sure it is possible to summit Nanga Parbat in winter via the Schell route - under certain conditions:

- The team should be larger.
- High altitude porters should be more experienced in climbing, ideally they should come from the Hunza region.
- Climbing time should be longer.
- Style should be definitely a siege attempt. It is necessary to fix ropes almost the very summit (4mm ropes on the Diamir side)."

Maybe one day we will try again,

Krzysztof Wielicki
Jan Szulc
Jacek Berbeka
Artur Hajzer
Tommy Henrich
Jacek Jawien
Przemyslaw Lozinski
Robert Szymczak.

Krzysztof Wielicki lead the 5th Polish attempt on winter Nanga Parbat. The team members added up not only many years of experience - but also an amazing number of 8000ers summited - including winter first ascents:

Wielicki was the fifth climber to summit all 14 8000ers. Among his climbs; the first winter ascents of Everest, Lhotse and Kangchenjunga. Artur Hajzer, has 4, 8000ers summited and the first winter climb of Annapurna. Dariusz Zaluski, has 4, 8000ers summited and winter attempts on K2, Makalu, Nanga and Shisha. Jan Szulc led the team who first climbed Shisha Pangma in winter, and has a K2 winter attempt.

Krzysztof Tarasewicz, is summiteer on 3 8000ers; Jacek Jawien has been a member in K2 and Shisha winter expeditions. Only Przemyslaw Lozinski will experience an 8000+ meter peak for the first time.

Polish climbers have all the first winter ascents on Himalayan 8000ers, most achieved in the eighties. All their ascents took place in January and February - except for Lhotse on December 31, 1988 by Krzysztof Wielicki.

17 years went by before a new first winter ascent was a fact: On January 14, 2005, Polish Piotr Morawski and Italian Simone Moro summited Shisha Pangma. The expedition leader was Jan Szulc (current member of the Nanga Parbat winter expedition).

The latest attempt for a first winter ascent on a 8000er was done last year by Jean-Christophe Lafaille. Lafaille attempted Makalu solo, but disappeared on his summit push, apparently without reaching the summit.

Besides the Poles which attempted Nanga, Simone Moro is also back to winter 8000ers: He is currently attempting Broad Peak together with local climber Shaheen.

None of the Pakistans 8000ers (K2, Nanga Parbat, Broad Peak, GI, and GII) have been summited in winter. In Nepal, only Makalu still remains unclimbed in winter. This year, Pakistans government has reduced the winter climbing fee to a nominal 5%.

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