“There is no commercial future in winter 8,000ers” Fernando Garrido says

Thoughts about the recent winter season

At Cho Oyu, neither the SSW ridge (left) nor the East ridge has been climbed. @Lakpa D. Sherpa

This winter, the expeditions on Nanga Parbat (Barmasse, Goettler), Everest (Kobusch), K2 (Grace Tseng and Sherpa-guided team), Manaslu (Txikon, Moro and Sherpas) and Cho Oyu (Gelje Sherpa team and Pioneer Adventure team, on the Nepalese side) all failed. We met the Spaniard Fernando Garrido, the first himalayist to have climbed an 8000m solo in winter, in February 1988. Here are his reactions to the resurgence of winter himalayism at 8000m, and particularly about plans for commercial expeditions in the coldest season.

Winter season is over in Nepal and Pakistan, with a final score of zero summits out of 6 expeditions to 8,000ers launched. Was it the weather? Did the climbers lack experience or skills for the challenge? Or have we just forgot what it means to climb in the winter Himalaya? After all, the season has also ended with zero casualties. What is the impact of O2 and helicopters carrying climbers to and forth? And finally, what will be the trend in upcoming winter? We could use some contexts and perspective to understand the present and foresee the future of winter high altitude climber – and we have found Fernando Garrido to answer our questions.

On 10 January 1988, Fernando Garrido set up his camp on the south side of Cho Oyu. He crossed illegally the Nangpa La – back then used by hundreds of Tibetan merchants – into Tibet and ventured solo up the mountain’s normal route. It was February 1st. There were no ropes, no trails,