(Tina Sjogren) Folks ExWeb spoke to who tried 8000ers in winter say they can't even explain how rough the death zone is on a fragile human in the deep of winter. It's hard, they say. Really hard.
A few international individuals are giving it a go right now, attempting a first winter summit on Nanga Parbat. Waiting for news yesterday we did a shoutout for Ian Overton's funny debrief on Cracked.
Today we chat with Ian about writing in general (his piece generated a big audience on Cracked) and Nanga Parbat winter climbing in particular. "Trying to explain simply being cold as hell is not enough," he said.
Explorersweb: What prompted your article for Cracked?
Ian: I had just returned home from work, grabbed a beer, and read a cracked article called 6 Survival Tips from a Professional Adventurer . It was an amusing account of the everyday insanity of getting out into the world away from the comforts of daily life. At the end was a little link saying "Do you have an insane adventure or story you'd like to share? Write for us!" and I thought "Eh, why not."
So I took about 20 minutes to write a short treatment for the editors and they picked it right up. I worked with an editor casually for a few months, giving them the story and working together on crafting it to better suit the 18-35 computer/dick-joke-aficionado demographic. Overall, it was a fun experience. I don't really fancy myself as a writer but I do enjoy telling stories and public speaking events, so I just let things go stream of conscious and rework it from there.
Explorersweb: Biggest takeaway publishing mountain stories for the general public?
Ian: Writing for the general public instead of other mountaineers was pretty easy. They want the "sexy" stuff, the "when did you almost die" stories. Trying to explain simply being cold as hell while 1/2 your gear doesn't show up to base camp either due to theft or negligence, the monotony of waiting out the storm by reading the same damn Game of Thrones book 3 times over or the odd bits of returning home and trying to relate to daily life again isn't what people want to know but it's what makes up a ton of expedition time.
So you wind up serving up platitudes like "Everest...is the mountain that Nanga Parbat pushes down on the playground and calls a pussy," but it's all in good fun and it gets the story out there. Additionally, since the story ran I've been contacted by other Colorado based alpinists and expanded my social and climbing circle. I randomly ran into a few people who knew me from the article at the recent Ouray Ice Climbing Festival (which was a blast) and we're looking to get out on ice here sometime in the near future.
Explorersweb: Your own favorite news sources? (Except for ExWeb of course :)
Ian: The Alpinist is my go-to for mountaineering news, followed by Rock and Ice. The American Alpine Club is also a great source of information when they release their annual publication (the AAJ) and, as a bit of a medical nerd, Accidents in North American Mountaineering is always a wonderful read.
Explorersweb: What do you think about the current developments on Nanga Parbat and K2?
Ian: Tomak and Elisabeth had the right idea of getting out there and at it as soon as winter hit. The mountain needs to be summited before the 1st week of February or else the storms just get nasty. Daniele is committed to the Mummery Rib, which just looks too avalanche prone for me but if he acclimates well and weather treats him right, a hard alpine-style push could be feasible. Good luck to the Russians, going over the saddle and up the summit pyramid should be interesting. If the Iranians don't arrive soon I think they're out of luck. But maybe I'll put my foot in my mouth. There are so many variables.
Explorersweb: What do you think will be the biggest challenge for the climbers there right now?
: Weather will always be an issue. Nanga Parbat sits alone out there on the western edge of the Himalaya so storms seem to come out of nowhere. I think time frame wise, Elisabeth and Tomek have the best shot. I'm rooting for them and hope everyone comes home safe. Explorersweb: What are yours and your mates' plans for the future? Ian
: I wasn't sure if I wanted to go back to the big mountains after my trip to Nanga Parbat. That mountain beat the hell out of me and we didn't even make it that far. Let's be honest, it probably wasn't my brightest idea for a first attempt at an 8000er. However, I can barely think of much else these days. I see pictures from Daniele and Elisabeth and feel like I'm missing out. If there's no success on Nanga this year, I'd like to consider a second attempt.
Currently, David is gearing up for Annapurna this Spring. Zoli and I are looking at teaming up again with David in the summer of 2016 for a "two-fer" of GI and Broad Peak. Additionally, I've been contacted by a team based here in CO that is interested in GI and GII that same summer. I'm committed to the Hungarian-US expedition, but I'm looking forward to talking and training with some new friends in my home state. Additionally, I'd like to explore the Waddington Range and the St. Elias range for the simple pleasure of the adventure to a new place. I'm taking notes from Steve House's "Training for the New Alpinism" and looking forward to increasing my training schedule.
Outside of mountaineering, I'm currently pursuing a degree in nursing in hopes that I can work with Doctors Without Borders in the future. Mountaineering is an important part of who I am and how I feel sane in the world. Men like Alex Lowe and Herman Buhl are all heroes in their own way. But most heroes don't get books written about them or flashy magazine spreads. They're on the ground in Gaza, Liberia, Afghanistan and dozens other places helping people in ways that matter directly regardless of politics. If you want, you can donate here
Living in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA, Ian Overton’s first alpine experience was at age 16 with his father: “We had packed into the Titcomb basin in Wyoming’s Wind Rivers to summit Gannet and made an alpine start at 3 am. When we reached the top of Dinwoody Pass, I was freezing, my lips were bleeding from the wind, my eyes stung, had wind burn and I was already starving. But the stars, the alpenglow, that feeling of finally being 'present...' I loved it.”