Persistent snowfall, strong high-altitude winds and a lack of good weather windows characterize the winter season on the eight-thousanders. On January 23, David Göttler, Hervé Barmasse, Mike Arnold and Qudrat Ali pulled the plug on the expedition at Nanga Parbat. Now Simone Moro and his team at Manaslu are also reporting that they are tired of waiting. How much patience can Jost Kobusch still muster on Everest?

Winter mountaineering on the highest mountains in the world is a discipline that does not fascinate too many alpinists. The Italian Simone Moro answered the question of why in a recent interview with the magazine Bergundsteig: "In winter you're in the Himalayas or Karakorum completely alone. You move in an absolute wilderness and loneliness that doesn't exist anywhere else there." At the same time, the experience is close to what the first explorers and hikers experienced: the unknown.

“In winter you are completely alone in the Himalayas or Karakorum. You move in an absolute wilderness and loneliness that doesn't exist anywhere else there either."

Simone Moro

Big decisions

David Gottler communicated in late January that the team will abandon the attempt to climb the 8125-meter high Nanga Parbat over the 4500 high rupal wall to climb. The German professional alpinist underlined the importance of reflected decisions: "I am firmly convinced that so much in life is the result of the decisions we make."

Nanga Parbat David Goettler Herve Barmasse Tent
Hervé Barmasse and David Göttler during a cold night with snowfall and wind at an altitude of 6200 meters.

He and his companions Herve Barmasse, mike arnold and Square Ali had decided at the beginning of their expedition to climb in a very easy alpine style and not to wait the whole winter in the base camp. Accordingly, the persistently strong jet stream (strong wind system at high altitudes) and the lack of a window of fine weather made the difficult decision to return home a little easier for them.

"We decided not to take the risk of sitting in the cold endlessly waiting for this small chance."

David Gottler

"Maybe in a couple of weeks there will be a great weather window that would have been perfect, but we decided not to risk sitting in the cold endlessly waiting for this small chance."

A year at base camp

Simone Moro can also sing a little song about waiting. The high-altitude climber has been going on an expedition for three months every winter for years, so he – this year’s attempt on Manaslu included – had already spent 50 months in extreme cold. He spent just one year on Manaslu, which he attempted to climb for the fourth time this winter.

Spontaneous avalanche – filmed by Simone Moro

However, Moro is experienced enough to know when it no longer makes sense. “The problem is that you can't really go beyond Camp 1. You can climb up to camp 1 without any problems because it is sheltered, but after that, when the actual climbing begins, the risk of avalanches is high and the wind is a real problem.”

Winter expedition-manaslu-simone-moro-basecamp
The Manaslu base camp in the midst of huge snow masses.

He had the decision to cancel Iñaki Alvarez, Oswald Rodrigo Pereira and Alex Txikon collectively summed up: “Today we all faced reality together with the Sherpas, the companions with whom we shared this experience, and decided to end it here.”

Enduring on Mount Everest

The German tries on the highest mountain in the world Jost Kobusch currently an ascent without oxygen. But even in this region, snowstorms and strong winds make it impossible to advance to greater heights, as the alpinist reports to Lacrux: "I'm fine - but it's time to wait at wind speeds of up to 200 km/h. Actually better, a week ago there were top speeds of up to 250 km/h.”

Jost Kobusch is not discouraged by the strong winds or the lack of a good weather window. "I'm fully motivated. However, winter ends on February 28th.” In view of this small remaining time window, it is clear to him that the summit is no longer realistic. Nevertheless, Kobusch hopes that the jet stream will migrate south. "This would give me the opportunity to climb as high as possible again, to learn a lot and to see something of the route."

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Credits: Cover picture Simone Moro, Video Avalanche at Manaslu Pasang Rinzee Sherpa, David Gottler, Jost Kobusch

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