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Purja set to conquer winter K2 with Sherpa ‘team’

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Nirmal 'Nims' Purja - shown here at Camp 4 - and a team of Nepalese Sherpas are hoping to summit K2 in winter on the afternoon of January 16. Credit: Nirmal Purja.

The last great mountaineering first may be close to surrendering to mankind — albeit, with a catch.

According to a report on alpine site alanarnette.com, former British commando Nirmal “Nims” Purja may attempt a winter summit on K2 with a team of Sherpas, thanks to a favourable weather window in the Karakoram range.

Purja, who appears to have recovered from the loss of equipment following a severe windstorm at Camp 2, is pressing ahead, and may achieve the feat “as a team” tonight.

“Later today, I will be leading the fixing team to the summit. We hope to stand on the summit together,” Purja said on Facebook.

It is not known if Purja and his team will be using supplemental oxygen, which has become a major topic of debate in climbing circles around the world.

Some purists have even suggested that the use of 02, or even the availability of it, or even the use of it by Sherpas in advance to clear the way and put up ropes — is essentially the equivalent of “sports doping.”

Purja’s summits of the remaining 8000ers — accomplished in just under seven months — have all involved the use of supplemental 02.

Then again, Nims is the kind of man who will let nothing stand in his way — it is rumoured that SAS tried to poach him after he quit the SBS commandos.

The man is unstoppable.

Meanwhile, a new altitude mark has been matched on K2, with Mingma Gyalje Sherpa reaching 7,800 metres at Camp 4, with two other Sherpas on his team — Mingma Tenzing and Mingma David — alanarnette.com reported.

Reportedly, they have equalled the previous altitude record on a winter K2 attempt, set by legendary Russian-Polish mountaineer Denis Urubko. 

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Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja and a team of Sherpas could summit K2 in winter within the next 24 hours, according to reports. Credit: Nirmal Purja.

Both Mingma G and Purja have expressed a deep desire to show the world that Nepalis are just as credible climbers as any other nationality on the planet.

Mingma, however, will definitely not be using supplemental oxygen.

In another winter K2 news, Jangbu Sherpa with the Seven Summits Treks (SST) team was hit by rock between Camp 1 and the Japanese Camp.

He was hit in the head and eye suffering serious injury but is now in stable condition.

He will be helicoptered back to Skardu for treatment. This is the fourth evacuation this season: two members and two Sherpas.

According to other Facebook reports, Sergi Mingote, Juan Pablo Mohr, Tamara Lunger and Alex Gavan spent the night at Camp 2.

This afternoon, Mingote and Mohr reached Camp 3 and pitched their tent at 7,002m, above the infamous Black Pyramid.

There have been no reports on the progress of 28-year-old Pole Magdalena Gorzkowska, who is attempting winter K2 alone and on the cheap.

The computer forecasts have the winds now a bit higher for Saturday at 10 to 15 mph and wind chills “only” -40F, alanarnette.com reported. Ks’s dreaded winter winds return next week, so the time may be right for the climbers at Camp 4.

K2 is 8,611 metres high, which puts it about 200 metres less than Everest, but it’s considered a far more technical and dangerous, Gripped.com reported.

Of the 14 8,000-metre peaks, it’s the only one yet to be climbed in winter, with or without supplementary oxygen.