Broad Peak and the Sought-After First Winter Ascent in the Karakoram

Broad Peak in the Karakoram on a day the Poles are unlikely to see (By Svy123 2006)

The so-called 8,000ers (peaks above 8,000 meters) have all been climbed, but not all of them have been topped-out in winter.  This is most notable in the Karakoram Range, where five of the world’s highest peaks stand and none of them have had an alpinist arrive on the summit between early December and the beginning of March. 

Right now, a Polish expedition lead by Artur Hajzer is already in the Baltoro region staging its bid for Broad Peak (26,401 ft./ 8,047 m.).  For the 8,000-meter peaks that have been climbed in winter, those seven winter-first ascents were all accomplished by Polish expeditions. 

But Broad Peak, like other Karakoram 8,000ers, has been tried before in winter.  In 2006 and 2007, Italian super alpinist Simone Moro led attempts on Broad Peak in the coldest months, including an unsuccessful 2006 climb, which was almost a solo attempt.  What he said in advance of that trip shows his determination: “I will stay there until end of February; and I didn’t find any photographer or cameraman to come with me. So I will have to do all by myself.”  Ultimately, he climbed with Shaheen Baig.  In 2007, he returned in winter only to be turned back again. 

  
While a Polish expedition attempted Nanga Parbat (26,657 ft./8,125 m.) in the Karakoram winter, also in 2007, most attempts in Pakistan have been aimed at Broad Peak.  This is interesting because it must appear achievable to the climbers over the other four 8,000ers in the region, including Nanga Parbat, K2, and Gasherbrum I and II.  If the winter conditions in the Karakoram are holding the climbers back from the tops of these mountains, then the lowest mountain or one with the most direct lines may be the simplest, which could be Gasherbrum II. 

However, we all choose our targets in climbing and even hiking because of our passion for the trail, route or the romance of the peak.  We tend to obsess over our objective.  The reason for the recent attempts on Broad Peak could be based on Moro’s singular excitement over that goal, and the Hajzer expedition on the Godwin Austin Glacier now may have chosen Broad Peak because of the rich, recent information from Moro’s two seasons of attempts.  I am very curious about why Broad Peak has been so popular and am asking some knowledgeable people – I will let you know what insight they share, if any.

While a Polish expedition attempted Nanga Parbat (26,657 ft./8,125 m.) in the Karakoram winter, also in 2007, most attempts in Pakistan have been aimed at Broad Peak.  This is interesting because it must appear achievable to the climbers over the other four 8,000ers in the region, including Nanga Parbat, K2, and Gasherbrum I and II.  If the winter conditions in the Karakoram are holding the climbers back from the tops of these mountains, then the lowest mountain or one with the most direct lines may be the simplest, which could be Gasherbrum II. 

The so-called 8,000ers (peaks above 8,000 meters) have all been climbed, but not all of them have been topped-out in winter.  This is most notable in the Karakoram Range, where five of the world’s highest peaks stand and none of them have had an alpinist arrive on the summit between early December and the beginning of March. However, we all choose our targets in climbing and even hiking because of our passion for the trail, route or the romance of the peak.  We tend to obsess over our objective.  The reason for the recent attempts on Broad Peak could be based on Moro’s singular excitement over that goal, and the Hajzer expedition on the Godwin Austin Glacier now may have chosen Broad Peak because of the rich, recent information from Moro’s two seasons of attempts.  I am very curious about why Broad Peak has been so popular and am asking some knowledgeable people – I will let you know what insight they share, if any.

Well, thanks again for visiting.  If you enjoyed this post, please consider joining the growing community and becoming a fan of the Suburban Mountaineer on Facebook.

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