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SHISHA PANGMA WINTER 2004-2005
Winter is back and I am off once again to face the ascent this season of an 8000 metre peak. Last January, at the beginning of 2004, only 300 vertical metres stopped us from achieving the first historical winter ascent of Shisha Pangma’s 8027 metres in the Himalayas. Piotr Morawski and I were almost positive that we had reached the summit after being the first to climb the difficult south face along the un-repeated “Corredor Girona” route, opened by the Spaniards in 1995. But the word “almost” characterised the final epilogue. With temperatures of minus 52° and the late hour of the day (3.30pm) we would have been left with little chance of survival after the 90 minutes of day light left before nightfall.
We would have surely managed to reach the summit but the history of the mountain would have been forever linked with the end of our story. An overnight bivouac would have been devastating for our bodies already frozen and at the mercy of the wind on the summit ridge.
We accepted the defeat sportingly, even if still satisfied with the first winter ascent of the south face.
The following winter is now arriving and so is the will to re-launch the project and make the dream come true.
It is the same people as last time: Piotr, Darek, Jan, Jazek and I. The face is the same, so is the summit. We still have not decided which route to climb, and we will decide this depending on the weather and the conditions of the face.
No oxygen, no Sherpa, no other expedition present on the mountain. The mountaineering phases will start after the 21st December to honestly respect the beginning of “winter” according to the season’s calendar. The group will leave end of November to undertake an acclimatisation trek in Nepal and we will then move to Tibet, and subsequently to base camp between the second and third week of December.
We will take cameras and video cameras with us to capture the sequences and images of this second attempt and we pray for the same meteorological conditions as last year. With different tactics we are convinced that it is possible to reach the top and finally the summit of this 8000 metre peak which still awaits a winter ascent. As well as Shisha, even Makalu, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum I and II, Broad Peak and K2 await first ascents in the colder and “unpopulated” season. To tell you the truth winter ascents on 8000 metre peaks are still waiting for a non-Polish climber to write this little page of vertical history....
Shisha Pangma is 8027 meters high according to the latest Chinese Survey in 1983. Erroneously a few publications still show the height as 8013 meters or 8046 which were the old measurements competing for the official height. In the Tibetan language Shisha Pangma means “ridge over the pastures”, or else according to the original Hindustani name of Gosainthan it means “Place of the Saints”. If it is climbed via the normal route, that is the route of the first ascenders on the 2nd May 1964 (Chinese), it is considered one of the least difficult mountains technically, over eight thousand meters. Its south face instead has the characteristics of being a wall of 2500 vertical meters with a number of inclinations varying from 55° and 90° depending on the route climbed. The south face was climbed for the first time in 1982 by the Englishmen Scott, McIntyre, Baxter-Jones and Prescott. On the same face there are 6 ascent routes plus a seventh one on the summit of Shisha West, 7968 meters opened in 2000 by Callido and Fernandez.
It is also the last eight thousand meter peak entirely in Tibet. It is in fact in the Langtang Himal region, of which it is the highest peak, and it stretches out onto an area full of satellite summits, with differing heights from 6.000 to 7.000 meters, many of which have not yet been climbed.
See photos of two of these mountains which are within the sights of yours truly or whoever wants to court them before me…
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