“The impossible is made possible!”
January 18, 2021 9:42 PM   Subscribe

On Saturday, ten Sherpas and Nepalis became the first team to summit the venerable and formidable K2 during the winter. Starting as two separate teams, they combined forces in the days leading up the the final ascent. A few meters below the pinnacle, they all stopped, sang the Nepali National Anthem, and then summited together. BBC News has video interviewing one of the team's leaders during a break in their descent. The temperature turned out to be a manageable -40℃ that day, with little wind chill.
posted by not_on_display (17 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
When the temperature's -40 you don't have to specify C or F.
posted by Schmucko at 11:14 PM on January 18 [30 favorites]

Apparently the slope near the top where they stopped to sing the anthem and all summit together was 40 degrees or 0.7 radians :P

I am happy that a team of Nepalis got this one. As Nirmal says in the BBC interview, all 13 other 8,000m+ peaks were summitted by their "foreign internationally-known climbing friends" (presumably aided by sherpas?), but what made the difference here (aside from nature smiling and offering a time with only 10mph winds) was that "everybody wanted this to their bone".
posted by batter_my_heart at 11:51 PM on January 18 [12 favorites]

I love me the old pre-commercialization climbing films . . .

for the difficulty of K2:

K2 The Savage Mountain 1978 British West Ridge Expedition film documentary Part 1

difficulty of winter climbing:

Everest In Winter Part 1

Australian Blokes taking on Everest in '84:

posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 1:12 AM on January 19 [6 favorites]

When the temperature's -40 you don't have to specify C or F.

I came here to say this, but you do have to specify degrees to exclude Kelvin. Except Kelvin doesn't have a negative scale. Never mind.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:50 AM on January 19 [4 favorites]

When the temperature's -40 you don't have to specify C or F.

When the temperature's -40 you don't have to specify nothin'!
posted by fairmettle at 3:58 AM on January 19 [4 favorites]

We need to talk about Kelvin.
posted by thelonius at 5:40 AM on January 19 [16 favorites]

Except Kelvin doesn't have a negative scale. Never mind.

Probably not a derail to extend much further, but previously.
posted by polytope subirb enby-of-piano-dice at 5:42 AM on January 19 [3 favorites]

Let me second how awesome it is that Nepalis and Sherpas got this record. This is an amazing achievement. K2 is one of the deadliest mountains out there.
posted by bfranklin at 6:07 AM on January 19 [8 favorites]

Let me second how awesome it is that Nepalis and Sherpas got this record.

Yes! On expeditions "led" by white westerners Nepalis and Sherpas often don't get much credit, despite usually being the strongest members of the team. It's delightful that for this incredible achievement they get all the glory.
posted by medusa at 6:23 AM on January 19 [15 favorites]


While most first summits have a name attached to the feat—like Sir Edmund Hillary on Everest—this group credited the team, rather than an individual, with the first ascent.

Fuck yeah being honest about the team effort this involves.
posted by medusa at 6:25 AM on January 19 [10 favorites]

It is so incredibly impressive to have climbed AND SUMMITED K2 in winter! It has once again shown how strong, adapted to cold and flat out fearless this team was.

Even more impressive- some the team did the climb without oxygen... which is INSANE.

I've been following a few of them on Instagram, and they had a few pretty serious setbacks- usually you climb and set ropes to each successive camp, leave gear, and then head back down to acclimatize to elevation, but this year, their camp2 got caught in a really bad storm destroying an entire camp of food/supplies (not unexpected in winter climbs but still extremely disheartening and a huge time and energy setback). They were able to work around this limitation and set it up again for the next weather window.

Its a genuinely inspiring climb.

(also how awesome is it that we can follow climbers like this on social media- I started following a few Sherpa's a few years ago after following some premier climbers and they've started to get full on sponsorships from Scarpa, Redbull etc. same as other premier athletes.)
posted by larthegreat at 6:55 AM on January 19 [7 favorites]

“The impossible is made possible!”

at zombo.com
posted by Foosnark at 7:06 AM on January 19 [10 favorites]

Just wow. Images of K2 are insane—I cannot fathom climbing the thing. Makes me queasy just contemplating what they’ve done.
posted by kinnakeet at 8:47 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]

Okay, I went down a rabbit hole trying to parse out "Nepalis and Sherpas," which basically seems to boil down to all of the participants being Nepali, and all Sherpas save for Nirmal Purja (who appears to be Gurkha).

My best guess is that somebody wanted to avoid the phrasing "almost all-Sherpa" so as not to diminish the joint accomplishment of Purja, who does indeed appear to be a badass.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 9:47 AM on January 19 [4 favorites]

He was a Gurkha
posted by Flashman at 11:45 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]

K2 -- all of the hardest, most technical climbing is at the top. Everest is a bit taller but considerably less difficult climbing in the death zone. To summit K2 at all is an amazing accomplishment; to do it in the winter, flat-out unreal.

Climbers seem to have a courage gene which I absolutely do not, I don't even like being on a steep roof. I love to read about them, and/or read what they themselves have written. They leave me in awe, esp since most of them have this humility about them. And they're not dumb, they're not unaware; most have lost friends to the mountains, many have lost fingers and/or toes to frostbite. They just seem to me to be another breed of cat.
posted by dancestoblue at 2:34 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]

What an amazing achievement! Just awe-inspiring. Thank you also for linking to the Nepali national anthem in the OP, which is really beautiful.
posted by unicorn chaser at 11:53 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]

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