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with Stefan Nestler

The hidden mountain

This was all of Kilimanjaro I saw today

Kilimanjaro played hide-and-seek with me. After the long trip from Cologne via Frankfurt and Addis Ababa to Tanzania, I was looking forward to taking a look at the highest mountain of Africa from the plane. Stupidly, I was sitting in the central aisle. When the pilot announced that Kilimanjaro was now on our left, I roused my neighbor and hurried to a window at the emergency exit to take a snapshot. But I came too late. The lucky ones were able to catch at least a glimpse of the Kili. I only saw clouds.

Date

17. February 2018 | 20:46

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4 questions, 4 answers with Tino Villanueva

Tino Villanueva (l.) and Alan Rousseau (r.), in the background Rungofarka (the middle of the three peaks)

Better late than never. There was always something coming up, so I did not have the time to report on one of the most impressive climbing achievements of last fall. In the beginning of last October, Tino Villanueva and Alan Rousseau succeeded the first ascent of the six-thousander Rungofarka in the Indian Himalayas. The two American mountain guides first attempted a direct line through the North Face, but turned around at 6,000 meters. Later they reached in five days the summit of the well-shaped mountain via the North Ridge. Finally, I contacted Tino, and he answered my questions:

First of all congrats on your great performance. You succeeded the first ascent of the 6,495-meter-high Rungofarka. How far to your limits did you have to go?

Date

14. February 2018 | 16:39

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Bad weather slows down winter expeditions

Ascent via the Abruzzi route on K 2

“The weather is not the best,” Krzysztof Wielicki, leader of the Polish K2 winter expedition, writes on Facebook. “Full of clouds and wind.” Denis Urubko ascended via the Abruzzi Spur to an altitude of 6,500 meters to check the condition of the route. Some old ropes are to be replaced, says Wielicki. The Polish climbers  had abandoned “for reasons of safety” their original plan to climb the Basque route (also known as the Cesen route). Previously Adam Bielecki and Rafal Fronia had been injured by rockfall. While Bielecki is able to continue, Fronia had to cancel the expedition because of a broken forearm.

Date

13. February 2018 | 17:24

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Another incident on K 2

Rafal Fronia

For the Polish climber Rafael Fronia, the winter expedition on K2 is over. “Today, at 2pm local time, while approaching to Camp 1 (5,900m), a smoldering falling stone hit Rafał Fronia in the forearm causing a fracture,” expedition leader Krzysztof Wielicki informed from the base camp on Facebook. “After descending to the base and medical supply, he expects to be evacuated by a helicopter to the hospital in Skardu.” Fronia is to return home. In spring 2017, the Polish climber had scaled the eight-thousander Lhotse in Nepal without bottled oxygen.

Date

9. February 2018 | 16:05

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Nanga Parbat: Revol’s anger after the rescue

Elisabeth Revol at the press conference in Chamonix

“We could have saved Tomek.” With this sentence, the French mountaineer Elisabeth Revol has triggered a debate. Could her Polish rope partner Tomek Mackiewicz still be alive, whom, suffering from severe high altitude sickness and slowblindness after their summit success on Nanga Parbat, she had had to leave at 7,200 meters, if the rescue at the end of January had started faster? On the late evening of 25 January, Revol had made several emergency calls. “It’s a race against the clock when you set off a rescue,” Elisabeth said at a press conference in Chamonix on Wednesday. “It took, in fact, 48 hours for something to happen. So clearly I have a lot of anger inside of me – and Tomek could have been saved if it had been a real rescue carried out in time and organized.”

Date

9. February 2018 | 10:42

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Moment of shock for Adam Bielecki on K2

It worked out well in the end

“Eh, that was close,” Adam Bielecki writes on Facebook from K2 Base Camp. “Several dozens of meters below camp 1 [at 5,800 m]  I was hit by a big stone. The result is a broken nose and six stitches, which were professionally put by Piotr Tomala and Marek Chmielarski directed by phone instructions from Robert Szymczak. In a few days I should be back in a perfect condition.” Previously, Krzysztof Wielicki, the leader of the Polish winter expedition on the second highest mountain on earth, had reported that Bielecki had been injured on the forehead and nose, although he had worn a helmet. Wielecki emphasized that the 34-year-old had not lost consciousness and was still able to descend to the base camp: “We hope that he will soon be back to full strength.”

Date

7. February 2018 | 16:45

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New expedition rules in force in Nepal

Three 8000ers at a glance: Mount Everest, Lhotse, Makalu (from l. to r.)

The much-discussed new rules for expeditions in Nepal are in effect. According to Dinesh Bhattarai, General Director of the Ministry of Tourism, the amendment of the mountaineering rules was published today in the government  gazette. “The Department of Tourism can now issue certificates to the Sherpa summiters,” Bhattarai told the newspaper “The Himalayan Times”, referring to the only new rule that in advance had been met with approval by all sides.

Date

6. February 2018 | 17:49

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Nanga Parbat: Triumph and tragedy

Elisabeth Revol in a French hospital

The ridge is narrow at the highest mountains in the world, between luck and danger, between life and death. On Thursday of last week, Elisabeth Revol and Tomek Mackiewicz reached the 8,125-meter-high summit of Nanga Parbat. Elisabeth was the first woman to succeed a winter ascent of this eight-thousander, Tomek the first Pole to set foot on the highest point of Nanga Parbat in the cold season. In the seventh attempt Mackiewicz had finally fulfilled his big dream. For Revol, it was the third attempt, all together with Tomek. The two climbers did not have time to enjoy the second winter ascent of Nanga Parbat on the summit. They were late, it was already 6 pm local time and dark. That was still the smaller problem. Tomek told me ‘I can’t see anything any more’,” Elisabeth reports from a French hospital, where her severe frostbite on her hands and feet is being treated. He hadn’t used a mask because it was a bit hazy during the day and by nightfall he had ophthalmia (an inflammation of the eye). We hardly had a second at the top. We had to rush to get down.”

Date

1. February 2018 | 20:25

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Before Kibo expedition: Into artificial altitude

Hypoxia training at home for Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro is calling. In three weeks I will set off for the highest mountain in Africa. Of course I want to reach the summit at 5,895 meters. But that’s not the only reason for the “Kilimanjaro Summit Challenge”. The other 23 expedition members and I will also participate in a research project of the Philipps University Marburg on altitude sickness. The doctors who will accompany us will take blood samples and examine us daily. Also psychological tests are planned. The risk of suffering from high altitude sickness on Mount Kilimanjaro is quite high. Finally, the summit aspirants overcome an altitude difference of more than 4,000 meters in just a few days. About 70 percent of the Kibo tourists say they suffered from symptoms of acute altitude sickness.

Breathing thin air at home

Immediately after training: oxygen saturation 87 percent, five minutes later 98 percent again

I live in Cologne at about 50 meters above sea level, the Alps are about 600 kilometers away. So I miss the opportunity to just climb a mountain and breathe thin air. Even before my previous expeditions, I had good experiences with hypoxia training, back then in special gyms. Now there is a generator in my home, which I can specifically use to filter out a part of the oxygen from the air. Through a mask I inhale the oxygen-poor air thus simulating a higher altitude. So I am not only able to breathe thin air during training and at rest, but even sleep in a special small tent in “high altitude”.

Thomas Huber, Jost Kobusch …

Date

28. January 2018 | 0:06

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Rescue operation on Nanga Parbat

Elisabeth Revol and Tomek Mackiewicz

It’s a race against time. A rescue team of climbers from the Polish K2 winter expedition is trying to rescue the Frenchwoman Elisabeth Revol and the Pole Tomek Mackiewicz, who have fallen into difficulties during their summit bid on Nanga Parbat. According to the information available, the 43-year-old Tomek – suffering from snowblindness and frostbite – is staying in a tent at about 7200 meters. “I keep descending, please helicopter tomorrow,” wrote Elisabeth Revol in a text message from her satellite phone. The 37-year-old is said to be somewhere between 6200 and 6400 meters.

Date

27. January 2018 | 19:33

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Elizabeth Hawley is dead

Miss Hawley in her home in Kathmandu (in 2016)

The legendary chronicler of Himalayan moutaineering has passed away. I am very saddened to announce that after a short battle in hospital, Elizabeth Hawley has left us”, the German journalist and climber Billi Bierling informed. Personally, I cannot put it into words how much this amazing woman has meant to me, how much she has taught me and how much I will miss her in my life.” Elizabeth Hawley was 94 years old when she died. Two years ago, she had handed over the work on her chronicle “Himalayan Database” to Billi.

Date

26. January 2018 | 11:55

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No news yet from Nanga Parbat

Tomek Mackiewicz

The internet is to blame. Today we are used to following expeditions on the highest mountains and in the remotest regions of the world almost in real time via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or blogs. Our perception has changed as well: Much faster than before, we assume something must have happened if we do not hear anything for longer than expected. So what’s up with Tomek Mackiewicz and Elisabeth Revol, who wanted to reach the summit of Nanga Parbat this Thursday? The answer is simple: We do not know yet.

Date

26. January 2018 | 0:59

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Nanga Parbat summit bid on Thursday

Tomek Mackiewicz on Nanga Parbat

Ready, go! “We are at 7,300 (meters). Terrible fight,” Tomek Mackiewicz is quoted on his Facebook page in telegram style. “If weather permits, tomorrow summit.” If not now, when?, we could add. On Thursday, by far the lowest wind speeds this week are expected for the 8,125 meter summit of Nanga Parbat: 20 to 25 km/h. In addition a few clouds and temperatures of minus 42 degrees Celsius. Thereafter, the wind is to refresh again and reach storm strength at the weekend.

Date

24. January 2018 | 16:40

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Two weeks on a quasi-7000er

Ralf Dujmovits (l.) and Nancy Hansen in the still empty DLR living area

This seven-thousander has neither a summit, nor does it offer impressive views. It covers an area of ​​only around 110 square meters – and is located on the grounds of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne. A hypoxia chamber within DLR’s medical research lab “:envihab” – the name stands for environment and habitat – will be comfortably furnished in the coming months.

Four weeks in the chamber

In mid-May, Ralf Dujmovits, the only German mountaineer who has climbed all 14 eight-thousanders, and his partner, the Canadian climber Nancy Hansen, will move in there for four weeks. They are taking part in a highly interesting hypoxia study conducted by DLR in cooperation with the University of Texas. The assumption: Although extreme oxygen deficiency threatens life, there could also be a positive effect on the body.

Date

23. January 2018 | 16:02

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Decision on Nanga Parbat postponed, Urubko in Camp 2 on K2

Tomek Mackiewicz on Nanga Parbat

Do you already have aching muscles from keeping fingers crossed? Your pain could become even stronger. Because the summit bid of the Pole Tomek Mackiewicz and the Frenchwoman Elisabeth Revol that was expected already for Sunday is delayed. “We are in Camp 3, (it’s) windy (with speeds of)  about 100 km/h,” Tomek is quoted today on his Facebook page. “Tomorrow Camp 4, summit push (on) 25 January. Good weather (is expected for) that day.” In fact, the weather forecast for the summit at 8,125 meters predicts for Thursday the lowest wind speeds this week: between 15 and 25 km/h. Assuming this forecast is correct, it will be almost calm, however with minus 42 degrees Celsius quite cold, some clouds are expected. Mackiewicz and Revol climb without bottled oxygen.

Date

22. January 2018 | 14:53

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