Mingma G is that new breed of Nepali mountaineers who do not just help foreigners get to the top, but climb for the sheer adventure. That is why he decided to take a team to K2 in December 2020—because the second highest mountain had never been climbed before in winter.
Located in the Karakoram on the Pakistan-China border, K2 lives up to its nickname as ‘the savage mountain’. One in every five climbers has been killed in trying to climb it. This year alone, four climbers died on K2.
K2 is steep, has frequent rockfalls and avalanches, and demands technical skills at high altitude. To do this in winter, when temperatures reach -50 Celsius with hurricane force winds had been considered impossible.
“It was very difficult. It was very cold,” says Mingma G with typically laconic understatement.
Given the background of the Nepali climbers he grew up around, Mingma G empathises with the plight of the porters from Baltistan, Pakistan. “While trekking base camp, they were carrying our load but they were eating less, sleeping on snow in thin sleeping bags and think mattresses…they are the ones who made our K2 successful in the beginning,” he writes on his Instragram.
Mingma’s all-Sherpa Nepali expedition arrived at Base Camp in December after a four-day march-in and immediately started fixing ropes on the mountain. As founder of Imagine Nepal, Mingma and other Nepalis had financed their expedition with a GoFundMe campaign because of loss of income due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
After numerous setbacks due to weather and poor health, Nepali member of three other expeditions decided at Base Camp to make their own attempt to climb K2. This was his chance to make an assertion of national pride and endorse homemade Himalayan mountaineering competence.
“It was a spontaneous decision, we met Nims Purja on the mountains and talked about climbing together not for individual glory, but for national pride, so we teamed up,” he recalls.