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with Stefan Nestler

The “Snow Leopard” from Mount Everest

Ang Rita Sherpa with certificates of the Guinness Book of Records

Ang Rita Sherpa‘s Everest record could be one for eternity. The legendary climber from Nepal, who the locals reverently call “Snow Leopard”, is now 70 years old. No other climber has scaled the highest mountain on earth as often without bottled oxygen as Ang Rita did in the 1980s and 90s. “His record of nine will probably stand for a long time since current climbing Sherpas are required to use O2 by their companies,” Richard Salisbury from the “Himalayan Database” writes to me.

Date

7. December 2018 | 0:01

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Commercial Everest winter expedition postponed

Everest (l.) in the first daylight

In the coming winter there will be no commercial winter expedition to the highest mountain on earth after all. The Nepalese operator “Seven Summit Treks” (SST) postponed their Everest project by one year to winter 2019/2020. “We are personally busy this year”, board director Chhang Dawa Sherpa writes to me, adding that a strong SST team will accompany the Spaniard Alex Txikon on his upcoming winter expedition to K2 in Pakistan.

Date

5. December 2018 | 12:01

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Stricter regulations for expeditions on the Tibetan eight-thousanders

Tibetan north side of Mount Everest

The expedition operators in Nepal might have been so shocked that they dropped their pencils. In the “New Regulations for Foreign Expeditions 2019” in Tibet (available to me) it says under point 6: “In order to ensure the healthy and orderly development of mountaineering and minimize the occurrence of mountaineering accidents, mountaineering teams which were organized in Nepal temporarily will not be accepted.” As I have learned from a reliable source, a delegation from Nepal immediately traveled to China to have this regulation removed or at least weakened. Apparently the delegates of the Nepali operators were at least partially successful. Some agencies, however, are supposedly to receive no more approval. The Chinese and Tibetan Mountaineering Associations announced to cooperate in future only “with expedition companies with good social reputation, strong ability of team formation, logistic support, reliable service quality, excellent professional quality, and (who are) law-abiding”.

Date

4. December 2018 | 16:48

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Alex Txikon will also head for K2 in winter

Alex Txikon in Bilbao

After all. The Spaniard Alex Txikon will tackle K2 in the upcoming winter. The 35-year-old announced this at a press conference in Bilbao today. He will travel to Pakistan on 2 January with his compatriot Felix Criado, with the goal of scaling the second highest mountain on earth for the first time in the cold season. It had already become known that the Pakistani government had granted Txikon a climbing permit for K2. However, the Basque had left it open to this day whether he would actually use the permit.

Date

29. November 2018 | 23:20

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David Lama after his solo first ascent of Lunag Ri: “Most intense time”

The last meters to the summit of Lunag Ri (picture taken by a drone)

“I traverse the last few metres over wind packed snow that sticks to the granite on the Nepalese side of the mountain. Even though my head is full with the impressions that I absorb every moment up here, my thoughts are somehow empty. The knowledge that I must not make any mistake is constantly present and dominates all other feelings. It results in an intense, almost exhausting concentration – a feeling I know only from other solo ascents in the mountains,” Austrian top climber David Lama writes on his website about the moment when the 28-year-old was the first to set his foot on the summit of the 6,907-metre-high Lunag Ri about a month ago (see video below). The technically difficult mountain is located in the Rolwaling Himal on the border between Nepal and Tibet, more than 35 kilometers as the crow flies northwest of Mount Everest. “Having arrived at the very front of the summit spur, I stand still. It feels strange that suddenly I have no more further to go. I sink down to my knees, tired and happy, even though I wouldn’t be able to express it that way right now. Briefly I think about Conrad. He is the only one I would have liked to share this moment with.”

Date

27. November 2018 | 13:06

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“Warm” ice in Everest glacier

Khumbu glacier

The Khumbu Glacier at the foot of Mount Everest is apparently even more endangered by climate change than previously assumed. British glaciologists, who measured the ice temperature of the glacier in 2017 and 2018, point to this. At three drill sites up to an altitude of about 5,200 meters near Everest base camp, they used a specified adapted car wash unit to conduct hot water under high pressure into the ice. The scientists hung strings with temperature sensors in the resulting holes, the deepest of which reached about 130 meters deep into the ice. “The temperature range we measured was warmer than we expected – and hoped – to find,” says Duncan Quincey of Leeds University, leader of the “EverDrill” project.

Date

23. November 2018 | 14:49

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Hidden heroes of mountaineering in Pakistan

Three times K2 without breathing mask: Fazal Ali

Sorry, Fazal Ali – that your extraordinary performance on K2 just slipped past me last summer! I reported on the first ski descent from the second highest mountain in the world by the Pole Andrzej Bargiel. I also noticed that Muhammad Ali “Sadpara”, the Pakistani winter first ascender of Nanga Parbat, completed his collection of the five eight-thousanders of his home country on K2 – and that it was a record season on “Chogori”, as you locals call the mountain. But I missed the news that you, Fazal, were the first mountaineer in the world to reach the 8,611-meter-high summit of the “King of the Eight-thousanders” for the third time after 2014 and 2017 without bottled oxygen. All the deeper I now take my hat off!

Date

21. November 2018 | 15:54

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K2 winter expedition: “Democracy weakens the team”

K2, the “king of the eight-thousanders”

One does not have to be a prophet to predict that K2 will be besieged regularly in winter until it is also scaled in the cold season. The second highest mountain in the world is the last remaining eight-thousander, the summit of which is still untouched in winter. After the failed Polish expedition from the beginning of this year, a team from three states of the former Soviet Union will attempt “Chogori”, as the local Balti call the mountain, next winter: Five Russians, four Kazakhs and two Kyrgyz. “We must be in Islamabad at the latest on 2 January,” writes me Artem Brown. The Russian, born in 1976, has been organizing the winter expedition.

Date

20. November 2018 | 0:44

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Bad luck for Siegrist and Schild on Shiva

The 6,142-meter-high Shiva in northern India

Shiva has rough edges. On the one hand he is the god of creation for the Hindus. But he is also feared for the fact that he smashes everything to bits, if he is in a real peeve. The same applies to the 6,142 meter-high mountain of the same name in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Sometimes Shiva attracts the world’s best climbers with its steep walls and beautiful shape, then again it is unruly – as the Swiss climbers Stephan Siegrist and Jonas Schild as well as their photographer Dominic Fischer had to experience this fall. Siegrist, aged 45, and the 26-year-old Schild had actually planned to climb the North Face of the mountain. But somehow everything went wrong.

Date

13. November 2018 | 16:56

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Family trip onto Mount Everest

The Hillary grandchildren Alexander, Lily and George (from l.) in Auckland

The Hillarys seem to carry an Everest gene. Edmund Hillary succeeded in 1953 with the Sherpa Tenzing Norgay the first ascent of the highest mountain on earth. In 1990 and 2003, his son Peter followed in his father’s footsteps and reached the top of Everest at 8,850 meters twice. And in a year and a half, in spring 2020, three of the six grandchildren of the first Everest summiter could follow: Lily, Alexander and George Hillary.

Date

10. November 2018 | 22:02

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“School up!”: Second floor slab concreted

The day draws to an end

Even the darkness cannot prevent construction from continuing in Thulosirubari. For 18 hours, concrete is mixed in the small mountain village 70 kilometers east of the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, transported upwards and distributed, then finally the second floor slab is casted. “Only one machine for mixing concrete was used for the work, the rest was done by physical labor,” writes Shyam Pandit, liaison man of the German aid organisation Nepalhilfe Beilngries. “Special skilled laborers were brought from Kathmandu for the casting.” After the first two parts of the new school building have been used for teaching since last spring, the construction work for the third section is now on the home straight: If everything goes according to plan, the new building with eight more classrooms could be completed in spring 2019.

Date

8. November 2018 | 23:35

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Soon only e-vehicles in Tibetan Everest Base Camp?

North side of Everest

Will the mountaineers on the Tibetan north side of Mount Everest be chauffeured to the base camp next spring with electric buggies, as we know them from golf courses? This Tibetan provincial government’s plan is reported by Chinese state media. Step by step, all vehicles without electric motors should be banned from the base camp in order to reduce air pollution, it said. “In peak season, the camp welcomes an average of 200 to 400 vehicles every day,” said Tang Wu, director of Tibet’s Tourism Development Commission. “The camp receives an average of 20,000 vehicles every year.”

Date

2. November 2018 | 15:17

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David Lama is said to have succeeded solo first ascent of Lunag Ri

David Lama

It looks as if he has made it. David Lama is said to have succeeded the first ascent of the 6,895-meter-high Lunag Ri in Nepal.  I am even a little more cautious than many other media from all over the world, because the 28-year-old top climber himself has not yet confirmed his coup. Even his office at home in Austria is still in silence. My inquiry there remained so far unanswered. The only source so far is American climber Conrad Anker, who congratulated David a few days ago on the social networks, “on your successful solo ascent and descent of Lunag Ri. Third time is a charm!“

Date

31. October 2018 | 13:46

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Adam Ondra: “Climbing harder is somehow more fun”

Adam Ondra

Even the master of the impossible sometimes faces profane problems. “Get in, I still have to find a parking space,” Adam Ondra tells me when we meet two weeks ago at the agreed place in the centre of the northern Italian city of Trento. The 25-year-old Czech is one of the top stars of a sports festival to which he has travelled with his van from his hometown Brno.

Ondra has been pushing the limits of sport climbing for years. Already at the age of 13, he climbed a route with a 9a degree of difficulty on the French scale which is commonl in the sport climbing scene – which in the rating of the International Climbing and Mountaineering Association (UIAA) corresponds to a route in the eleventh degree. For comparison: Reinhold Messner mastered the seventh degree at his best times as a rock climber. At the end of 2016, Ondra succeeded the first repetition of the “Dawn Wall” route on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, which is considered the most difficult big wall route in the world, in just eight days. In September 2017, he mastered an extremely overhanging route in a cave near Flatander in Norway – the world’s first 9c (twelfth degree in the UIAA scale). The climbing world bowed once more to Ondra, nobody doubted his rating.

After guiding Adam to the parking garage in Trento, where my car is parked too, we use the way back to the venue for the interview.

Adam, you’re climbing since you were a little boy. Can you imagine that one day you’ll get tired of it?

Date

26. October 2018 | 17:30

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First commercial winter expedition on Mount Everest?

Mount Everest

Winter climbing on the eight-thousanders was previously reserved for the best and toughest. In the 1980s, the heyday of winter expeditions to the world’s highest mountains, the Polish experts for the cold season were called “Ice Warriors”. In that decade they achieved seven winter first ascents of eight-thousanders. Krzysztof Wielicki and Leszek Cichy kicked off on 17 February 1980 on the highest of all mountains, Mount Everest. It’s strange that a commercial winter expedition might pitch up their tents there for the first time.

Date

24. October 2018 | 19:50

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