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with Stefan Nestler

Spanish trio abandons summit attempt on Gasherbrum II

Route of the Spaniards on Gasherbrum II (blue)

Once again the weather in the Karakorum is a grab bag. “We are all still at Base Camp with the same 4 seasons in one day, sun, cloud, rain, snow, wind,” the New Zealand expedition leader Russell Brice wrote this week from K 2, the second highest mountain on earth. About 20 kilometers as the crow flies from there, Alberto Inurrategi, Juan Vallejo and Mikel Zabalza regardless of the freak weather started their ambitious attempt to traverse Gasherbrum I and II in Alpine style without descending to the base camp – 33 years after Reinhold Messner’s and Hans Kammerlander’s pioneering on these two eight-thousanders which has not yet been repeated to date.

Date

21. July 2017 | 16:15

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Summit success reported from Gasherbrum II

Gasherbrum II

According to the Pakistani expedition operator Alpine Adventure Guides, there was this summer’s first summit success on Gasherbrum II. The two Frenchmen Mathieu Maynadier and Jeremy Rumebe had reached the 8,034-meter-high summit in the Karakoram, the agency said on Twitter. Further information is not yet available. The two mountain guides from France had planned to climb G II on the normal route and to ski down afterwards. The goal of his first eight-thousander expedition was to gather experience at high altitude for an attempt on a technical route on an eight-thousander over the next few years, Maynadier had said ahead of the trip.

Date

17. July 2017 | 14:40

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Avalanche on K 2

K 2 Base Camp

With this monarch is not to be joked. K 2, the “king of the eight-thousanders”, is moody and therefore dangerous. “This morning at 8:12 am, we saw (a) big avalanche coming from (the) Abruzzi route,” Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, head of the Nepalese expedition operator Dreamers Destination, writes on Facebook. The Abruzzi route, following the path of the Italian first ascenders in 1954, leads via the Southeast Ridge of the mountain (look at the picture below, route F). “We feel all (that) Camp 3 (at about 7,300 m) is swept away again. I am sure we have all our deposit near Camp 4 because our Sherpa team made it on (a) ice cliff, but it is likely sure that all the fixed ropes are washed away.” Tomorrow his Sherpa team will go up again to assess the situation.

Date

14. July 2017 | 14:41

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Risky search on Nanga Parbat

The accident site (© Alex Gavan)

Looked at soberly, actually there can not be any doubt: The Spaniard Alberto Zerain and the Argentinean Mariano Galvan have been killed two weeks ago in an avalanche accident on the Mazeno Ridge on Nanga Parbat. Photos taken by the Romanian climber Alex Gavan from a rescue helicopter show the track of the two climbers ending exactly at the fracture line of an avalanche. The last position indicated by the climbers’ GPS tracker is a spot far below, in the supposed fall line. (Look also at the video below) Nonetheless a Pakistani team of eight is currently again searching for the missing climbers at the place where the avalanche swept down. “We moved to the south side of the ridge. We closely looked at the face,” the leader of the search team said today. “We can see the traverse Mariano made. We can also see the ridge from which a chunk of ice fell that potentially caused the accident by sweeping the climbers off the (ridge) into the highly broken glacier. Three of us will try (to ascend) from South West Ridge and three from south east.”

Date

12. July 2017 | 15:03

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Summit successes on Broad Peak and Nanga Parbat

Broad Peak

From Pakistan, this summer season’s first ascents on the 8051-meter-high Broad Peak are reported. Seven members of the team of the Austrian expedition operator Furtenbach Adventures and four climbers of the team of the Swiss operator Kobler@Partner reached the summit of the twelfth highest mountain on earth, it said. According to Furtenbach Adventures, expedition Rupert Hauer succeeded, along with three Sherpas and three clients, the first summit success on Broad Peak this season – even though there was a meter of fresh snow above the last high camp: “The sherpas made an unbelievable job and worked really really hard.”

Date

11. July 2017 | 14:41

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Karnicar abandons his K2 ski expedition

Karnicar strikes his tent on K 2

The Slovenian Davo Karnicar, known for his spectacular ski runs from the highest mountains in the world, has aborted his expedition on K2. The 52-year-old justified his decision with a minor back injury, which he had suffered already at the beginning of the expedition. The injury did not allow him to jump with his skies on the slope to change the direction, said Karnicar. Previously, he had skied down on trial from Camp 1 to the Base Camp. “K2 is too demanding for improvisation and for doing things by halves,” said Davo. Karnicar also pointed out that the key section of the South Face was currently snow-free and therefore a complete ski descent from the summit to the Base Camp, as he had planned, was not possible. The Slovene wanted to ski down the Cesen route.

Date

7. July 2017 | 16:33

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“School up”: Monsun is slowing down construction work

Construction site with puddles

The weather currently makes life tough not only for the mountaineers in the Karakoram. Also in Nepal it thwarts many time schedules. The work on the new school in Thulosirubari has now been slower because of the monsoon, writes me Shyam Pandit, Nepalese liaison man of the “Nepalhilfe Beilngries”. The German aid organization coordinates the construction of the new school building, which became possible through your donations for “School up!”. Along with the well-known climbers Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Ralf Dujmovits, I had launched the donation campaign two years ago to rebuild the village school of Thulosirubari, about 70 kilometers east of the capital Kathmandu, as quickly as possible. The school had been so badly damaged by the devastating earthquake in Nepal on 25 April 2015 that it had had to be demolished. Since fall 2016 the construction work is in progress. Actually, the first construction phase should have been completed before the rainy season.

Date

6. July 2017 | 15:35

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Wedge pillow in the backpack?

Olympus Mons, giant mountain on Mars

Compared to the highest peak on Mars, Mount Everest is a dwarf. Olympus Mons rises 26 kilometers above the surface of the red planet. However, this is not the reason why the German Aerospace Center (DLR) deals with high altitude sickness. For a – as I find, very interesting – study, the DLR is looking for mountaineers, who will ascent in the period from 7 to 20 August after a night on the Gnifetti Hut (at 3,647 meters) to the Margherita Hut. The “Capanna Regina Margherita” is located on the summit of the Signalkuppe in the Valais Alps and is, at 4,554 meters, the highest building in Europe. The DLR scientists want to find out whether it helps against high altitude sickness if climbers are sleeping with a raised upper body. The test persons will use wedge pillows, which ensure that they are raised by 30 degrees. In intensive care units in hospitals such pillows have been used successfully for a long time.

Mountaineers who want to participate in the study at the Regina Margherita mountain hut in August can either register by email at ams@dlr.de or register at the valley station in Alagna or the Gnifetti Hut with the DLR study supervisors. I have talked to Dr. Ulrich Limper who heads the study. The 35-year-old doctor has been working at the DLR for three years.

Dr. Limper, why is an aerospace center interested in the health problems of mountaineers? Are there similarities between astronauts and climbers?

Date

6. July 2017 | 0:11

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No more hope for Zerain and Galvan

R.I.P.

The two climbers Alberto Zerain and Mariano Galvan were most likely killed in an avalanche accident on Nanga Parbat. A rescue helicopter from the Pakistani army has now discovered an avalanche cone at the place from where the last signal from the GPS tracker was sent last Saturday. During two flights today the helicopter crew found no trace of the  55-year-old Spaniard Zerain and the 37-year-old Argentinian Galvan. “This situation unfortunately excludes the possibility of finding survivors,” said Alberto Zerain’s team.

Experienced eight-thousander climbers

Date

1. July 2017 | 11:01

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Attention, rope parasites!

K 2 Base Camp

Trouble’s brewing in the base camps on K 2 and the neighboring eight-thousander Broad Peak. “I got surprised to see climbers here without ropes.”, writes Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, head of the Nepalese expedition operator Dreamers Destination from the base camp at the foot of K 2, the second highest mountain on earth. Only on the normal route via the Abruzzi spur, three teams are climbing without ropes, says the 31-year-old Nepalese: “If this is how climbers come on K 2, then we can expect (the events of the) year 2008 again on K 2.” At that time eleven climbers from seven nations had died in a true mass summit push on the 8,611-meter-high mountain.

Mingma has agreed with the Austrian expedition organizer Lukas Furtenbach that Dreamers Destination will fix the ropes on the Abruzzi route on K 2 while Furtenbach Adventures will do the same on the normal route on the 8,051-meter-high Broad Peak and later make mutual use of the ropes. Also Furtenbach is hopping mad that other teams neither participate in the work to secure the route nor in the costs.

Date

29. June 2017 | 14:24

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Fear for Zerain and Galvan

Alberto Zerain (r.) and Mariano Galvan (l.)

Since Saturday there is no trace of the two top climbers Alberto Zerain and Mariano Galvan on Nanga Parbat. The 55-year-old Spaniard and the 37-year-old Argentinian wanted to climb via the 10-kilometer-long Mazeno Ridge to the 8125-meter-high summit. Last Friday Alberto had spoken on phone with his team. They were doing well and made good progress, said Zerain then. The next day, the signals from the GPS tracker showed that the two were still moving for six hours. After this, the locate point remained on the same spot. Later, the GPS signal ran out.

Date

28. June 2017 | 23:00

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If the headscarf simply annoys

Nasim Eshqi

Donald Trump stands between her and El Capitan. Nasim Eshqi would also like to climb the legendary granite walls in the Yosemite National Park, but the US president has imposed, as is known, an entry ban for Iranians. The 35-year-old from Tehran takes it with humor. “I mean, he is unlucky if I am not there,“ Nasim says, laughing. The female climber does not correspond to the Western cliché of an Iranian woman at all: off-the-shoulder shirt, sunglasses, no headscarf. And she says what she thinks. “The traditional culture in Iran doesn’t accept me or other girls who are the same style like me as real women they want to marry or stay with,” says Nasim. “But it was okay for me from the beginning. I have friends from all over the world who are supporting me mentally.”

Date

27. June 2017 | 15:59

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Alexander Huber: “Ogre is not a man-eater”

Alexander Huber

Ogre has on the Huber brothers almost the same effect as the singing of the Sirens in Greek mythology: the two German top climbers can hardly escape the call of this fascinating granite giant. Time and again in their long careers Alexander and Thomas Huber have set off to the Ogre massif in the Karakoram or the nearby peaks of the Latok group. In 1999, they failed in their attempt to climb the 7,285-meter-high Ogre I. Thomas succeeded the second ascent of the mountain in 2001, along with the two Swiss Urs Stoecker and Iwan Wolf. The first ascend was made almost 40 years ago, on 13 July 1977 by the British climbers Chris Bonington and Doug Scott. The descent became a drama with a happy end: Scott broke both ankles, Bonington two ribs. Nevertheless, both of them, supported by the other team members, reached the base camp one week after their summit success – one of the great survival stories on the highest mountains in the world.

Easier doing it with friends

Yesterday Alexander Huber set off to Ogre. His team includes the two East Tyroleans Mario Walder and Christian Zenz and the Swiss Dani Arnold. With Dani (and Thomas Senf), Alexander had opened a new route through the Matterhorn North Face last March. With Mario and Christian, he had succeeded  the first ascent of a route on the mountain Ritterknecht in East Greenland in summer 2016. “It’s good to be on the road with partners you know,” says Alexander Huber. His three companions are not only good, competent climbers, but also friends, says the younger of the two Huber brothers. “You have to spend a lot of time together, often moments of tension. The better the human chemistry fits, the better it is.” I talked with the 48-year-old about his expedition before he left for Pakistan.

Alexander, you are heading to Ogre, a seven-thousander in the Karakoram. What exactly are you planning?

Date

24. June 2017 | 15:01

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Hard times for weather experts

Charly Gabl

“I’ve got some more gray hair,” said Karl, called “Charly” Gabl. “It was terrible.” The world-famous meteorologist from Austria was talking about the freak weather on Mount Everest during this spring season, which had made predictions as difficult as rarely before. Once again, Charly had pulled numerous all-nighters to advise top climbers from all over the world who trust him almost unconditionally. “The one computer model showed two and a half meters of fresh snow during a week, another one no precipitation. Which one should I take?”

Date

22. June 2017 | 22:18

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Really on top of Nanga Parbat?

Mingma Gyalje Sherpa on Nanga Parbat

Mingma Gyalje Sherpa is not sure. He can not say with 100 percent certainty that he and his team really reached the 8,125-meter-high summit of Nanga Parbat on 11 June, the 31-year-old Nepalese today writes on Facebook, thus qualifying previous reports on the first summit success of the summer season on the eight-thousanders in Pakistan. He had relied on the local knowledge of a Pakistani climber who had summited the ninth highest mountain on earth in 2005 and with whom he had been on Gasherbrum I and II in 2016, writes Mingma. But the Pakistani had first led the team into a different gully than originally planned. This made the ascent harder and longer, says the Sherpa. When they finally reached the top of a ridge, the Pakistani told them this was the summit. “But that place didn’t look like the summit which I had figured out to be snow and two snow bar(rier)s,“ Mingma writes.

Date

18. June 2017 | 20:50

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