Climber calls off winter Everest summit bid

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KATHMANDU — A Spanish climber on Tuesday abandoned his bid to make the first winter ascent of Mount Everest in 25 years after “lethal weather” forced him to retreat.

It is the second time in as many years that mountaineer Alex Txikon, 36, has been forced to call off his attempt to scale the world’s highest peak in winter without the use of tanked oxygen.

The last successful winter summit was in 1993 by a Japanese team. But only one climber has previously reached the peak in winter without using supplemental oxygen: a Nepali mountaineer in December 1987.

“Alex has ended his expedition. He reached up to Camp Four but the weather did not favor him,” Mingma Sherpa of Seven Summit Treks, which managed the logistics of Txikon’s Everest bid, told AFP.

Mr. Txikon and his team reached 7,950 meters (26,083 feet) at the weekend, roughly 900 meters below the summit.

Weather forecasts had indicated that strong winds would calm early Sunday, allowing them to press on to the summit.

But winds up to 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour forced the team, which included experienced Pakistani climber Muhammad Ali Sadpara, to return to base camp.

“We are back at base camp from C4 (Camp Four). Very strong winds and lethal weather made it almost impossible to go for the summit,” Sadpara posted on Facebook.

The temperatures near the summit of Everest in winter regularly plunge below minus 40 celsius (-40 Fahrenheit) while the wind chill makes it feel even colder.

In those conditions exposed skin freezes in less than five minutes, putting climbers at serious risk of frostbite. — AFP