Winter action ahead: Hajzer, Szymczak and Bowie going for Broad Peak

Posted: Nov 13, 2008 02:10 pm EST

(K2Climb.net/Mounteverest.net/Madrid) Artur Hajzer is back to winter big game: The Polish veteran climber is leading fellow Robert Szymczak and Canadian Don Bowie on Broad Peak during the coldest Karakoram season. <cutoff>

Artur has five 8000ers under his belt, three of them climbed via new routes. He also achieved the first winter climb on Annapurna. He was also member in the Polish expedition attempting winter Nanga parbat two years ago, which also included Szymczak as expedition Doc.

On May 11th, 2008, Artur and Robert stood together on Dhaulagiris summit. Soon afterwards, Robert jumped to join an international group of first-class climbers who risked their lives on Annapurnas south face, trying to rescue Iñaki Ochoa de Olza. Among the rescuers was also Canadian Don Bowie, now the third member in the upcoming BP winter expedition.

<b>Winter season heating up</b>

In spite of several attempts, none of Pakistans 8000ers have been summited in winter. On Broad Peak in Particular, Italian Simone Moro and Pakistani climbers Shaheen Baig and Qudrat Ali have been rejected by loads of snow, bitter cold and bad conditions for the past two years.

Besides Hajzers on Broad Peak, a second Polish team led by Jacek Teler will attempt Nanga Parbat. In addition, more high-altitude winter expeditions may be announced in upcoming days stay tuned!

<i><b>First winter ascents on 8000ers - Poles ruling the season</b>

All first winter accents previous to Shisha Pangma were made by Polish climbers. Their feats revolutionized the Himalayan climbing community in the eighties.

First out was Leszek Cichy on Everest in 1980. Then came Maciej Berbeka and Ryszard Gajewski on Manaslu in 1984. The following year, Maciej Berbeka went to Cho Oyu in 1985, together with Maciej Pawlikowski.

That same year Andrzej Czok and Jerzy Kukuczka took Dhaulagiri (1985). The following year, Kukuczka came back for Kangchenjunga, together with Krzysztof Wielicki (1986). And in 1987, Kukuczka returned again, this time with Artur Hajzer, to accomplish the first winter climb of Annapurna.

Next Krzysztof Wielicki summited Lhotse solo on New years Eve in 1988 and in January 2005 finally, Simone Moro broke the Polish "first winter chain" when he and Polish Piotr Morawski summited Shisha Pangma in its first winter climb.

None of Pakistans 8000ers (K2, Nanga Parbat, Broad Peak, GI, and GII) have been summited in winter. In Nepal, only Makalu still remains unclimbed during the cold season. The Karakoram winter weather conditions are even harsher than in the Nepalese or Tibetan mountains.

<b>The Poles and winter Broad Peak</b>

Polish Maciej Berbeka (Manaslu winter 84, Cho Oyu winter 85) was part of a Polish expedition to K2 during the winter of 87/88.

Maciej climbed solo to the summit of the neighboring Broad peak, a mountain partially protected from the wind by K2 itself. Berbeka actually reached the summit, and came back exhilarated by his success.

Only later did he notice that he had actually reached Broad's central summit, not the main. Although the central summit is higher than 8000 meters (8030), the central summit can't be considered an official winter climb of the mountain.

<b>2007/08 winter climbers on 8000ers</b>

Last winter, Italian Simone Moro and Pakistan Shaheen Baig and Qudrat Ali attempted Broad Peak for the second time, while Italian Nives Meroi, Romano Benet and Luca Vuerich gave a try to Makalu - together with Kazakh climbers Denis Urubko, Serguey Samoilov, Eugeny Shutov and Gennady Durov. No one reached the summit though.

As for Polish attempts on Pakistan's 8000ers in winter, Krzysztof Wielicki lead the 5th Polish attempt on winter Nanga Parbat in Dec 2006/Jan 2007.

<b>2008/09 Winter Broad Peak team members' resume</b>

Artur Hajzer has summited five eightthousanders: 3 of them via new routes. He also achieved the first winter climb on Annapurna.

Dr. Robert Szymczak has been in expeditions to Kyrgyzstan, Nepal and Pakistan. He is a medical doctor specializing in high altitude medicine. He is also a member of the International Society for Mountain Medicine. Robert attempted winter Nanga Parbat in 2006/07, Manaslu in spring this year and volunteered as member of the international team who tried to rescue Iñaki Ochoa de Olza on Annapurna's south face.

Don Bowie also played a key role on Iñaki's rescue attempt on Annapurna. 2008 marks Don's 4th season climbing in the Himalayas, with previous expeditions to Broad Peak, Cho Oyu, K2, and the South Face/East Ridge of Annapurna in 2006 and 2008. A Canadian by birth, Don now lives in Telluride Colorado and Bishop, California.
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Artur Hajzer during the attempt on winter nanga Parbat two years ago. Image courtesy of HiMountain.eu (click to enlarge).
Image of Robert Szymczak courtesy of HiMountain.eu (click to enlarge).
Image of Don Bowie courtesy of his website (click to enlarge).