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Alex Txikon aims to achieve K2 in winter and be the first to get it

30 / 11 / 2018

So called at the Great Trigonometrical Survey, K2, its codename wasn’t changed to other local one probably because of the remoteness of its location.

K2 (8.611m) is the second highest mountain on earth and the most difficult one to climb with Annapurna and Nanga Parbat. Therefore, and for being the second in percentage of fatalities (20% of people killed) is known as “The Wild Mountain”.

The great technical and climatological difficulty becomes patently clear when it is known that it has been reached ten times fewer than Everest. There have only been four winter attempts, failed, and, so, NOBODY has NEVER climbed successfully in that season.

The expedition will take place between January’19 and March’19, when major difficulties arise with winds over 100km/h and temperatures below -30ºC.

Famous Jet stream, fast flowing, narrow air currents, are winds that come from northwest, and that can reach speeds of up to 250km/h above 8.000m mark in winter. Hits K2 as it is the first great mountain they find on the way, producing really bad weather conditions and becoming the first great difficulty.

After landing in Islamabad and reaching Skardu, about ten days of trekking will take the team to the base camp. The challenging part comes after, equipping the road to the summit through the different intermediate camps, involving about two months of intense work in extreme condition from 5.000m mark to camp 4 at 8.000m. There they will have to wait for the right moment to attack the summit. Subject to confirmation, the ascent probably will be through the Abruzzos route.

Other key aspects of the project

We would like to take advantage of the opportunity to make visible the planet's environmental problem through a variety of pioneering initiatives such us the use of solar panels and windmills to transmit the message that expeditions should be sensitive to Climate Change. This should reduce kerosene consumption by about 15 to 20 % to minimize the environmental footprint as when recycling more than 150 Kg of human waste during the 3 months of the expedition. In addition, there are plans to install several weather stations at different levels to test forecast information and monitorize Himalayas winter. That will enable data collection to carry out studies and analyses of the impact of Climate Change in such a fragile ecosystem, highly sensitive and important World’s thermometer.

Additionally, two scientific projects of the highest order will coexist with the sport challenge:

The BALELUR cross-curricular project, led by the Basque Centre for Climate Research (BC3), centre of excellence in research of Climate Change. The expedition will be attended by several scientists and presents three strategic objectives:

First, studying climatic change effects over Baltoro glaciated valley and iconic K2. Second, knowing the perception in the minds of the indigenous inhabitants of the region, its impact, and adaptation measures. And third, analyse the effectiveness of awareness campaigns about Climate Change on social networking.

For that purpose, a researcher of BC3, will travel with Alex Txikon’s crew for field working. Including interviews, polls or snow gathering all different levels. Collaboration between scientists and climbers will be one of the main keys. Thanks to this project, BC3 aims to contribute to increase knowledge of the causes and consequences of Climate Change in this type o vulnerable ecosystem.

And the K2-Xtreme Genetics Project. Pioneer research study on the lack of oxygen in extreme winter conditions.

In this expedition, a pioneering scientific study will be carried out internationally, which will develop a team of the Sant Pau Biomedical Research Institute (IIB-Sant Pau) led by Dr. José Manuel Soria, in collaboration with the University Polytechnic University of Barcelona (Emma Roca) and the Ophthalmology Service of the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona (Dr. Laura Pelegrin).

The main objective of the study is to identify the genetic factors and regulatory mechanisms of gene expression associated with physiological changes caused by exposure to extreme environmental hypobaric hypoxia that is known as Omic-Data (Genomics, Transcriptomics and Epigenomics).

The most advanced technology will also be present in communications (radio and satellite, to communicate with media and followers), geolocation (controlling the position of Alex at all times) or drones (for actions of filming and mapping the Baltoro glacier). In addition, together with the University of the Basque Country, Deusto and Mondragón, a mountain rescue device of the latest technology is being designed to be tested in extreme conditions of altitude and meteorology.

With the Baltistan foundation, the Cofares group (leaders in drug distribution) that deliver half a ton of medical and nutritional products, and Solarpack and Cegasa that have collaborated with the donation of energy generating elements and accumulators, a project will be carried socially in the villages of the Baltoro region. This social project will be accompanied by the presence of the expedition doctor, gynecological surgeon, for several weeks, who will conduct a training campaign for health personnel, education for women and girls and review of potential women in the villages in the area.

Finally thank all the sponsors and collaborators for their new bet by Alex Txikon that without all of them this project would be impossible to carry out.

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