As we’ve previously mentioned, Nanga Parbat is at the epicenter of the high altitude mountaineering community at the moment. The 8126 meter (26,660 ft) peak, located in the heart of Pakistan’s Himalaya range, is the focus of all of the major winter expeditions taking place this year. Several teams are attempting to complete the first ascent of the mountain during that season, when it is at its most dangerous and difficult. Earlier this week there was a new arrival in Base Camp along the mountain’s Diamir face, as Italian alpinist Daniele Nardi arrived to begin his attempt at a solo summit in alpine style.
Nardi reached Nanga Parbat on Tuesday after trekking several days through deep snow to get to Base Camp. Conditions were difficult, but he was happy to be on the mountain at last. After setting up his tent, and spending a day getting settled, he immediately started acclimatizing to the altitude by skiing along a ridge that leads to another nearby peak. This not only provided a good workout, but also began the all important acclimatization process that will prepare his body for the thin air he’ll experience on his way to the summit.
The Diamir Face is reportedly very dangerous this year, with heavy amounts of snow and overhanging ice. It was so bad there that German climber Ralf Dujmovits canceled his attempt at a solo summit back in December. But Daniele is just getting started and he seems to be determined to at least try to go for the summit. That may change when he moves up to the more dangerous and technical sections of the climb, which have proven deadly in the past.
Going solo on an 8000 meter peak is always a challenge, as it means building your own camps and fixing any ropes you’ll need along the way. Daniele’s alpine style approach means that he’ll be climbing while carrying all of the necessary gear with him at any given time. This is in sharp contrast to the siege style climbing that is more common in the Himalaya, during which teams move up and down the mountain multiple times, building campsites as they go, while acclimatizing to the altitude. When Nardi finally feels ready, he’ll simply start up the mountain, making camp as he goes.
As one of just two 8000 meter peaks remaining to be climbed during the winter, Nanga Parbat has been luring top mountaineers for a number of years. But it has also earned itself the reputation for being the “killer mountain,” which says a lot about just how difficult it is to summit, even during the best of months. During the winter, it is a cruel, harsh place that has tested the toughness and resolve of many climbers over the years. The only other 8000-meter mountain that remains to be conquered in the winter is K2, perhaps the deadliest peak of them all.
Nardi will slowly begin to acclimatize over the days ahead, while also surveying the route he intends to take to the summit. Once he is ready, it’ll just be a matter of waiting for the right weather window. If that opportunity comes, he could vary well make history.