Text: Igone Mariezkurrena.
They are closer, just around 900 metres of distance separates our three climbers from getting, for the first time ever in winter, to the top of Nanga Parbat (8.126m). They are now resting in C4 (7.200m), in the middle of the huge platform that will need to cross before facing the last ramps of this ‘eight thousand’ still unclimbed in the coldest season of the year.
Although it was very important, neither last night they were able to rest properly: “I would say I slept for no more than four hours”, told us Alex Txikon. Wind was shaking the tent too violently.
Anyway, the day was sunny early in the morning here in Base Camp and also up in the mountain, at 6.700 metres altitude, in C3. Besides –this was the most important point–, the weather forecast that we again checked at 7 a.m. confirmed that wind was not strong any more and that the day was going to be more ‘easy’ in that sense. “But here, wind, even the lightest, always makes us feel colder, I think we’ve got about -30ºC now”, even his voice sounded cold. It was 10:30 a.m. and Alex Txikon called to inform that Ali ‘Sadpara’ and Muhammad Kan were already on the way up, with very light backpacks, just carrying rope for fixing. “Daniele and me will remove the tent and start behind them, we are carrying about 2025 kilos”.
About seven hours of hard climbing were coming, surely less technical than last days but exhausting anyway; altitude and fatigue start to impair their strength.
They needed six hours for going up through the interminable snowy and icy slop (about 500 metres) that comes after the blue ice pitches climbed yesterday. “I go slowly, don’t want to waste all my energy today”, explained Alex Txikon while resting after overcoming the evident cut that divides the slop into two.
After turning northeast, at 16:40 they already had only 40 metres left for getting up to the ridge that gives way to the huge platform (cannot see from Base Camp) where they were going to establish C4 (7.200m). “We feel good, but we are carrying too much weight”. Precisely in this point Muhammad Kan decided his work was over and took the way down, even at night, he wants to reach BC today. He’s explained his legs cannot go on. For the time being, we don ́t have more details about his reasons for this decision.
While writing this note (6 p.m.) the walkie rang once more: “The ledge is ready and the tent set down. Our plan was to start summit push at 00:00, but it will be a little bit later, we need to rest for some hours”.
Weather forecast for tomorrow talks about good conditions: winds of about 25-20 Km/h that, although being light, will surely make climbers feel much colder than the –35ºC expected. Heaven is bringing sunny.