Summiting the world’s tallest peak is something that few ordinary hikers would consider attempting even once. But, for a handful of the most experienced and well-heeled mountaineers on the planet, Mount Everest is the feat of a lifetime. Even among the elite, a summit is never guaranteed, often requiring multiple efforts. And to narrow that elite field even further, even fewer would make the climb without the use of bottled oxygen. Add in the challenges of a winter attempt? Now we’re talking.
On Monday, Spanish climber Alex Txikon announced his plans to return to Everest for his third attempt to do just that: a winter ascent using no supplemental oxygen.
— Everest Today (@EverestToday) December 9, 2019
According to the Adventure Blog, wintertime is the most difficult season to attempt to summit the 29,029-foot peak, and to do so without supplemental oxygen only ups the ante. Roughly 3 percent of total summits on Everest have been completed without oxygen, reports the Washington Post. (Fun fact: At Everest’s peak, each breath that a person inhales pulls in less than one-third of the oxygen of a breath taken at sea level.)
Txikon first attempted this feat in 2016, without success. He tried again in 2017 with the same result. He then took 2018 to concentrate his efforts on the second highest peak in the world, K2, but has now re-focussed on Everest for the 2019-’20 winter season, reports the Adventure Blog.
The expedition will likely take place in January, after Txikon and his crew get acclimated to cold weather in the peaks of the South Shetland Islands for Antarctic training, states the Adventure Blog. Then they plan to travel to Nepal next month. Once there, the idea is to get warmed up on 22,349-ft. Ama Dablam before making their way to Everest Base Camp. As soon as they get acclimated there, the hope is that the brutal winter weather will offer an opportune break for a stab at the summit.
As the winter climbing season ramps up, Txikon’s crew will prepare as much their bodies will allow, but it’s ultimately Mother Nature who will make the call whether the attempt yields success.
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