Nepali climbers script history scaling K2 in winter season

KATHMANDU: At least 10 Nepali climbers have scripted history in mountain-climbing by making the first ever winter ascent of the world’s second highest peak this afternoon.

Legendary climbers Mingma Gyalje Sherpa and Nirmal Purja (Nimsdai) along with other Nepali Sherpa climbers stood atop Mt K2 (8,611m) in the Karakoram massif at around 17:00 hours local time, according to the expedition organisers. “They now become stars in the climbing world.”

Among 14 peaks above 8,000m in the world, K2 remained the only unclimbed mountain in the winter season. “But, Nepali climbers have made Nepal and the world mountaineering fraternity proud by successfully scaling the savage mountain today in the winter season,” Chhang Dawa Sherpa, Expedition Director at Seven Summit Treks said, sharing the information from the K2 base camp.

“Today, Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, Nirmal Purja, Mingma David Sherpa, Gelje Sherpa, Sona Sherpa, Mingma Tenzi Sherpa, Pem Chhiri Sherpa, Dawa Temba Sherpa, Kili Pemba Sherpa, and Dawa Tenjing Sherpa reached the top of Mt K2.”

Nirmal Purja 'Nimsdai' shared after summiting the peak, "A very special moment. The whole team waited 10m below the summit to form a group then stepped onto the summit together whilst singing our Nepali National Anthem. We are proud to have been a part of history for humankind and to show that collaboration, teamwork and a positive mental attitude can push limits to what we feel might be possible."

At least 60 climbers from four different expeditions have already reached the Karakoram region to attempt to climb K2 this season.

Since the first winter attempt in 1987, only a handful of winter expeditions have been made on K2 but none of them made it to above 7,650m. Even in summer, since the first ascent in 1954, only 450 people scaled the mountain.

As Nepal is home to eight of 14 peaks above 8,000m, the first ascent record for all these peaks goes to foreign climbers. “So, I have decided to take a challenge on K2 this season to attempt to have Nepali climbers in the list of first ascent,” Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, owner of Imagine Nepal Treks, shared with THT before leaving for K2 last month.

Born in Rolwaling, the climbers’ valley, Sherpa is also the first summiteer on Mt Cheki-Go (6,257m), Mt Bamongo (6,400m) and Mt Chobuje (6,685m) via west. Sherpa, who has an all-Nepali team of three experienced Sherpas on K2 this season, had stood atop G-II making it the 12th eight-thousander that he climbed without using supplemental oxygen last year. The five-time Everest summiteer has also become the first Nepali climber to make the most ascents of 8,000-metre peaks without using supplemental oxygen.

Similarly, Nimsdai has already set the world record by scaling all 14 peaks above 8,000m in six months and six days, the shortest time to climb all 14 peaks, in 2019. Likewise, Mingma David is the youngest person to complete all 14 highest peaks in the world.

Meanwhile, President of the Nepal Mountaineering Association Santa Bir Lama congratulated Nepali climbers for creating history in the mountaineering world. Everest Summiteers Association chief Maya Sherpa also said that their achievement made the entire mountaineering community proud. Furthermore, Everest summiteer and NMA member Shiva Bahadur Sapkota wished for their safe descent. “They have proved the strength and determination of Nepali climbers," Sapkota added.

Mingma Gyalje with his Nepali Sherpa climbers' team on Mt K2. Photo Courtesy: Mingma Gyalje
Mingma Gyalje with his Nepali Sherpa climbers' team on Mt K2. Photo Courtesy: Mingma Gyalje