Alex Txikon: Telling the story in his own words – emotional, authentic, breath taking!

Source: Alex Txikon’s Facebook account:

“After 3 long days of uncertainty and discomfort, finally the helicopters of the Pakistani army picked us up at K2 Base Camp at noon on Sunday, March 3, on our way to Nanga Parbat. In the first helicopter Félix and Ignacio, and in the second one Josep and me. Between all of us, we loaded more than 50 kg of material to use in the rescue operation, cameras, objectives, drones and some material to establish our camps in Nanga Parbat

Between Concorde and Goro1 was very low visibility and in helicopter flights visibility is the key.

Once in Skardu we analysed the situation with the pilots of the fifth Fearless5, and we set off for Juglot we then headed to the Diamir valley as the conditions were not at all favourable in the Fairy Meadows and Raikot area.

We flew over the small village of Diamoroi and from there to Ser village, we didn’t seem to have a lot of problems, but suddenly between Ser and Kachal, due to the dense fog it was impossible to land, and we had to turn around.

Once in Skardu the atmosphere is rarefied by not being able to reach the destination. Our thoughts are on the spur Mummery. At 9.30 in the morning of Monday 4, they finally called us saying that we took off and at full speed we got prepared and in less than half an hour we were already in flight. We return to land in Juglot to refuel and from there we go to the Nanga Base Camp.

This time the weather promises, and we shorten by the slope of the Raikot, we fly over the Ganalo Peak to enter the slope of the Diamir. What memories to see the Nanga Parbat 8126 m, a chill run through our body to enjoy such beauty. We flew between 5800m and 5400m between the Messner route to the Kinshofer route without any success.

In the C1 at 4850 meters on the plateau under the Mummery we observe that Ali, Imtiyaz and Dilawar have built the heliport and are waiting for us. We set course for Base Camp, throw the luggage to the heliport of the Base Camp, where the first team formed by Felix and Ignacio had already landed, to facilitate the landing in some very dangerous maneuvers. I stay alone in the helicopter and for a little more than 30 minutes we comb the entire Mummery spur between 7000 and 5500 meters: this is a very complicated mission, the Nanga is the largest mountain on the planet and the Diamir wall rises more than 4.000m over the CB.

After more than 12 times over the wall the conditions worsened and the flight begins to be much more dangerous, so we landed on the C1 in another very delicate new maneuver. Ali Sadpara and I emerged in a warm hug, while Ignacio, Felix and Josep begin their ascent from base camp to C1. Ali Sadpara, Dilawar and I do not waste time and we go into the first crystalline ice ramps that give access to the spur Mummery, while Imtiyaz waits for the rest of the team in C1. We start to climb winning meters with much desire and with a lot of determination. We reached the C2 at 5600m which is completely destroyed by an alleged avalanche. We continue ascending as Daniele and Tom contacted for the last time from the C4.

We reached a quite safe site and we flew the drone to recognize the terrain 500 meters above us without any success. The first avalanche already warned us but the one that came to us was of enormous size. The truth is that we have been very lucky and cold headed. To talk about winter climbs you have to know what you are talking about, you have to live this kind of situations; it’s time to understand the movement of the ice, to catch all possible information and shoot the target and retreat. In every shot is not worth the minimum error, only in this way we can survive this type of situation.

We move with great speed to minimize the risks, we carry the minimum weight, at no time we install fixed ropes, we know the difficulty and exposure to which we stick, but if I were in his place, I would like them to do the same for us.

We descend to C2 and unearth the store of Daniele and Tom that is just over half a meter under completely shattered snow. We find a backpack and we descend all the belongings of Daniele and Tom to C1. Upon our return to C1 we find the rest of the team that has arrived from CB. While Ali, Imtiyaz and Dilawar descend to Base Camp, Ignacio, Felix, Josep and I decided to stay for the night in C1.

Tuesday 5th day after a long and tense night the trio Pakistani arrives again from CB to C1. This time, we start again on the way to C3 Imtiyaz, Dilawar and me; the rest stays in C1, combing the spur with long-range telephoto lenses, telescope and binoculars.

We are practically at c3. We flew the drone and watched with the binoculars for just over an hour. The Nanga Parbat has no intermediate points, in the sun you grip and, in the shade, it is so cold that they make this mountain a time bomb. Therefore, at first, we decided not to ascend again given the danger of avalanches, and having experienced yesterday, we have enough reasons: the sun is too hot and the slight stability of the giant hanging ice masses that are above of the 7,000m.

Anyway, I do not know where we got so cold and cold-blooded to get back on the road. We descend to C1, dismantle everything and decide to go down in the direction of CB. Already in the Base are our old friends Attaullah (guide of Daniele and Tom), Latif and Ikramat Jan (police and security of the expedition), among others.

Day 6 of March we left again Ali, Imtiyaz, Dilawar and I direction C2 of the route Kinshofer: we left at 6.00 a.m and it seems that it will be difficult to reach C2 at 6200 mt, given the accumulation of snow there is. It was very cold, at least minus 20 below zero and we arrived in 1 hour and a half to C1. It was very heavy snow and the crossing on the snow shovel could go to hell and we with her.

We descend to the CB and wait for instructions from Daniele’s relatives. That same day they begin to dismantle the Base Camp and we are don’t have much resources left. We wait for the helicopter that seems to be, it has already taken off 3 times and it has not arrived yet. We spend the night as we can since some of us do not carry sleeping bags to minimize the weight in the helicopters.

On March 7, when we were little experts with the kerosene stoves, while some of us slept, others got a good scare and almost burned us. Again we wait for the helicopter, the weather is perfect but we are informed that it has taken off at least 2 or 3 times and it has not arrived yet. Towards 3:00 pm we decided to descend to Ser since we had all day with one tea and 2 cookies each. We descend with a lot of weight through the deep snow. Finally, we arrived at Ser and spent the night at Gunther Messner School.

March 8th Thanks to the hospitality and generosity of the only 6 families that inhabit the village, they feed us. We built the heliport first thing but today the helicopter does not come and we decided to continue the march to Diamoroi with the climbing team and a lot of weight, which makes our progress very difficult. Still we go with the accelerator at full throttle. From Diamoroi to Bunardas we go in the back of the SUV on a night full of stars.

March 9 We are on our way to Skardu by road. It will take us about 8 to 10 hours or so. In brief, after speaking with the families, an official communiqué will be released.

This has been part of what happened these last long and very intense days and of a very high emotional load. In brief we will give you more information. If we have not given more information the last week has been due to our commitment and respect to the families of Daniele and Tom with which we committed ourselves that any information during this time would always come from their communication team. Thank you very much for your understanding and for the great support received. THE MOUNTAIN LINKS US.”

Video by Alex:

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