(Angela Benavides) The ABC team from the past winter attempt is no more; the dynamics have changed. Following team mate Alex Txikon's report from BC on Monday, today International GI expedition leader Gerfried Göschl provides a very goal oriented perspective on the climb: a new route and the first winter crossing of an 8000er.
ExplorersWeb: How is everything going, compared to last year? The weather has been relentless, are you happy with your progress?
Gerfried: Our biggest advantage is that we know the new route from last year's attempt. Also, it's good to be a larger team. Cedric in particular is turning out a superb climber on hard ice and difficult terrain; Nisar is great at feeding him the ropes as he opens the route. To be fair, Alex and Carlos managed to fix some sections too.
This has allowed us to climb very fast even in bad days. We have been at 6700m already, and almost reached the top of our route's headwall which leads to a steep ridge at 6800m.
We are 17 people here, together with Artur Hajzer's Polish group and the Pakistanis, so we never get bored, even in bad weather like this, with a storm unfolding and expected to last for the next 4 days.
ExplorersWeb: Compared to the small ABC team from last winter, what is it like it to head a bigger group, with 5 languages involved?
Gerfried: Louis, Alex and I had a "romantic" expedition last year; it was our first winter experience and we attempted an unknown route. We learned a lot, grew with the task and developed fantastic teamwork.
This time I'm here to finish the project, to complete the first winter ascent, to climb the new route and to make the first ever crossing of any 8000er in winter.
Such an ambitious undertaking demands a professional, well-focused approach. Maybe a bigger group has made things a little less personal, but that's how it works. Right here, right now, efficiency is essential to me. Thus I've tried to design the best plan to accomplish my goal:
Nisar and Cedric have done almost all of the frontline work, fixing ropes and setting up the route. It feels good to know that I have the right people by my side. I'm really very optimistic about the chance to cross the mountain with these two guys.
I must say that I'm also happy with the human side: Cedric, Nisar, Darek and Tamara are great people and a big personal gain for me. I must confess that I miss Louis and my other close mate Günther Unterberger though. I can't wait to join forces with them again in a future project!!
ExplorersWeb: What are your plans for the summit push? Do you need another roundtrip? Will you go all at once, or divided in groups? What style?
Gerfried: We have another 100 very steep vertical meters to fix, before we reach easier ground.
If there is just a small window, Cedric, Nisar and I will go up to finish those last hard meters and build C2 at 6,800m.
If the window is big enough for a summit attempt, we will simply load our backpacks and go for C1, C2, C3 (on the go at around 7200-7300m), summit, and then down via the Japanese couloir on the north side.
Any scenario works, we are motivated and ready to go. Darek and Tamara are willing to join our summit attempt but not the crossing. Should they summit they will backtrack down the new route on the south side.
I don't know about Alex and Carlos, they haven't discussed their plans with me.
ExplorersWeb: Having summited GI last summer - How different it is the winter experience?
Gerfried: With a winter crossing in mind I wanted to know everything about the mountain so the summer ascent was part of the project. It also became a great adventure to reach G1 summit in perfect weather with such strong guys and long-time friends like Günther Unterberger, Hans Wenzl, Stefan Zechmann, Juanra Madariaga and Rick Allen.
This winter is a completely different story, the project is way too serious to play around with.
When it's cold, when it's stormy, when things need to be solved - I'm here to face it. I planned this project for so many years, invested so much money, hard work and time, I'm 200% ready to do everything necessary to accomplish it. I just hope that weather gives us a single chance!
ExplorersWeb: You're the last men standing in Pakistan this winter. Do you feel any pressure? Does it affect you to see the others go home?
Gerfried: I'm truly sorry for what happened to the Russians. I really believe that only a strong and close-knit team such as theirs can hope for a winter summit on K2.
I can understand that Simone and Denis quit Nanga after the frustrating weather and endless wait at the foot of such a huge mountain in only a 2-men team.
But I'm definitely not affected, I'm here to finish my project, my baby. No need to look right or left; the important thing right now is to concentrate on what's ahead of us.
Winter 2012 GI teams:
Polish GI winter team
Carlos Suarez blog
#Mountaineering #topstory #interview
Visit our new website