Junko Tabei, the first-ever woman on top of Mount Everest, is dead. The Japanese died of peritoneal cancer in a hospital in the city of Kawagoe on Thursday. She was 77 years old. On 16 May 1975, Tabei had reached the 8,850-meter-high summit of Everest after she had climbed the route of the first ascenders Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa on the Nepalese south side. It was a milestone in women’s mountaineering.
Date22. October 2016 | 18:32
Some mountains act to certain people like magnets. They exert an almost magical pull, even if they are as difficult to reach as the Kyzyl Asker in the border region between China and Kyrgyzstan. For the third time, the German top climber Ines Papert traveled to the 5842-meter-high mountain to try to climb a new route via the difficult Southeast Face, which she just couldn’t get out of her mind. In 2010 and 2011 Ines had failed, now she returned with a success. “I am the happiest person on the planet. It keeps me smiling for a bit longer,” Papert writes on Facebook. Three weeks ago, the 42-year old climbed along with the 28-year-old Slovenian Luka Lindic through the wall to the summit of Kyzyl Asker. In the past years the 1200-meter-high couloir had been a too hard nut to crack for several expeditions. Papert and Lindic baptized their new route “Lost in China”. For the first time Ines had traveled to the mountain not from Kyrgyzstan but from China. This made the expedition so distinctive, she writes: “The language, the culture, the time spent and the vastness of the country often gave us the impression of being lost.”
Date21. October 2016 | 10:14
See you! After the Spaniard Kilian Jornet had already left Mount Everest in mid-September, the Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki also broke down the tents on the Tibetan north side of the highest mountain on earth. Simply too much snow, the 34-year-old said. In his summit attempt two weeks ago he had sunk into the snow up to the hip. As reported, Kuriki had ascended to an altitude of 7,400 meters, solo and without bottled oxygen, until he had been forced back by the masses of snow.
Date20. October 2016 | 16:19
“The ability is the measure of what you are allowed to do,” the free climbing pioneer Paul Preuss (1886-1913) wrote – freely translated – more than a hundred years ago. Hansjoerg Auer is able to do a lot and is therefore a well-deserved winner of the “Paul Preuss Award”, which is annually given to an extraordinary climber in the tradition of the legendary Austrian. “Auer belongs undoubtedly to the best climbers in the world,” said Reinhold Messner during the award ceremony at the International Mountain Summit (IMS) in Bressanone last weekend. Meanwhile, Hansjoerg Auer has set off from his native Oetztal for a new adventure. In the far east of Nepal, the Austrian, along with his countryman Alex Bluemel, wants to first climb the North Face of the almost 7,000-meter-high Gimigela Chuli East. The mountain is hidden behind the eight-thousander Kangchenjunga, the third-highest mountain on earth.
Hansjoerg, do you take failure into account?
Date20. October 2016 | 10:16
TagsAnnapurna III, Gerry Fiegl, Gimigela Chuli, Hansjoerg Auer, IMS, Messner, Nepal, Nilgiri South, North Face, Paul Preuss Award
The Netherlands are called so for good reason. The highest “summit”, the Vaalserberg near the town of Aachen, is only 323 meters high. Nevertheless you find “Oranje boven” also on the highest mountains on earth. Frits Vrijlandt is not a blank slate in the climbing scene. In 2000, he was the first Dutchman to climb Mount Everest from the Tibetan north side, later he became the second mountaineer from the Netherlands who scaled the Seven Summits, the highest mountains of all continents. At the International Mountain Summit (IMS) in Bressanone in South Tyrol, the General Assembly of the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) was held – and Vrijlandt was reelected as President for another four years.
Frits, a man from such a flat country is the head of all climbers worldwide. That sounds a bit strange.
Date16. October 2016 | 7:43
Ang Tshering Sherpa: “Low cost operators spoil the industry”
The numbers fill Ang Tshering Sherpa with confidence. “We hope that mountaineering in Nepal will revive very soon,” says the President of the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) when we meet at the International Mountain Summit in Bressanone in South Tyrol. According to his words, expeditions to Nepalese mountains higher than 6,500 meters, which are managed by the government, have already achieved 87 percent compared with the time before the devastating earthquake in April 2015. Climbing on mountains lower than 6,500 meters, managed by the NMA, has even fully recovered. Trekking is between 40 and 50 percent again, depending on the region, the head of the NMA says: “We need to let the world know that the best way to help Nepal is by visiting. Each and every person who spends time in Nepal will help to revive the economy and rebuild the infrastructure.”
Less but true liaison officers
As NMA president Ang Tshering has to work on several construction sites related to expeditions. For example, the case of an Indian couple that made headlines all over the world, because they had obtained their Everest certificates by fraud, faking the summit pictures of other climbers. “We need to monitor more strictly and seriously those climbers who are not good for climbers’ image,” says the 62-year-old. The Nepalese liaison officers are no big help. They usually take their money that the expedition teams have to pay, are not seen at the base camps, but confirm afterwards that team member have reached the summit. “We asked the government to send only one liasion officer per mountain, not 30 or 40 on Everest or other mountains,” says Ang Tshering.
Everest aspirants should be more experienced
But it is difficult to implement such reforms because “unfortunately the government is changing every six or eight months. You have to convince them. And when they are about to understand, they change again.” That is why the discussion about new mountaineering rules for Mount Everest is already lasting for such a long time, says the head of NMA, adding that the reform is urgently needed: “Everest is the highest mountain in the world and it is not easy to climb. Either they climb in the European Alpes or the Nepalese mountains or elsewhere abroad, they do need more experience.”
“Mountaineer only interested in price”
Like others, Ang Tshering sees the problem that especially new expedition operators from Nepal are attracting clients offering dumping prices: “They are picking up people who have not any knowledge about climbing, how to use the equipment. Such agencies are spoiling the tourism industry.” The NMA president is also head of Asian Trekking, one of the country’s leading expedition operators. “We must not compromise the safety conditions ot the other Nepalese operators who are well prepared, well organized and more experienced than the new companies who have no knowledge about expeditions”, says Ang Tshering Sherpa. “Climbers, however, are only looking at the price, they don’t look at the safety conditions. This is the problem.”
Date15. October 2016 | 22:00
TagsAng Tshering Sherpa, Asian Trekking, Everest rules, Faked summit pictures, IMS, Liaison officers, Mount Everest, Nepal, Nepalese Government, NMA
Ueli Steck: “If you go too far, you are dead”
If “The Fast and the Furious” had been a film about climbers, Ueli Steck could have played the leading role. The Swiss is just extremely fast. The Eiger North Face in two hours and 22 minutes, the 82 four-thousanders of the Alps within 61 days, solo via the Annapurna South Face to the 8091-meter-high summit and back in 28 hours, through Shishapangma South Face within ten and a half hours – for good reason Ueli is nicknamed “The Swiss Machine”. As if he had a tuned engine inside like the cars in “The Fast and the Furious”. Just recently, Steck has returned from India. I met him at the International Mountain Summit (IMS) in Bressanone in South Tyrol and talked to him about his tendency to speed, about aging and his next plans.
Ueli, you just turned 40 years old and you were not at home. How did you spend your birthday?
I was climbing along with my wife on Shivling in India (a 6,543 meter-high extremely shapely and challenging mountain in the north of the country). It was a very nice trip and a proper celebration of my 40th birthday.
And you have given yourself a summit success?
Yes, we had great weather. Within seven days we were standing on top of Shivling. It was perfect.
There has just been a mountain drama on Shivling: Two Polish mountaineers died.
When I went to Bressanone today, my Indian liasion officer sent me the bad news via Whatsapp. I just thought: Not again! We were together in base camp, really nice guys. It’s just sad. You always ask yourself: Why? Greg (Grzegorz Kukurowski) died because he suffered from high altitude sickness. You think that is not necessary anymore. Why does this happen again and again? I find it sad, on the other hand it annoys me.
Back to you. Aged 40, other people are getting slower. But I feel like you’re getting even faster.
At the moment it is still going uphill. (He laughs) You have to accept your age and not be sad that it is not like it was 15 years ago. I need a bit more rest, more time for recovery. But you can also see it positively: I have now more time to sit on the sofa. I think, age is just a matter of attitude.
You’ve always been fast on the road, but I feel like you’ve discovered speed in a new way.
I‘ve optimized it a bit and targeted my training on it. I know I can still put some peaks for the next four, five years.
Last spring, when you were trying to climb Shishapangma South Face via a new route along with German David Goettler, you both always seemed to be running fast. First you did it like crazy to acclimatize, and then you continued to run via the South Face.
We were always on the road. This is what I like. We said from the beginning: We want to climb and not to sit in Base Camp doing nothing. We wanted to move and have fun. And we succeeded in doing this.
You have carried equipment during your climb. Fast and light, this makes you more vulnerable.
You have to be careful. We were already on the summit plateau, bad weather was coming from behind, but there was still blue sky in the front. Then you can go ahead. But you know you have no margin. If you push forward and climb to the top, and then the storm comes and you have to bivouac, you are dead. Because you haven’t any suitable equipment. So you just have to be careful.
This is a topic that is on my mind. At the moment there is a trend to run with sneakers from the valley to the summit of Mont Blanc. People see it and think it always works. But you cannot go up there every day with sneakers. I think we need to sensitize people to this problem. When is it possible, when not, and when do you better turn around?
You have to be careful when climbing. It has now taken me and my wife seven days to climb Shivling. This is possible, but of course you are not fully acclimatized. You have to be aware that if you have headache and it’s getting worse, you have to go down. And if you do not, someone dies. You can be fast, light and efficient, but you have to be aware of the risks and dangers.
Do you benefit from your great experience as an extreme climber, who has, after all, been able to celebrate his 40th birthday?
Logically, and I can play that out. Especially when I climb in high altitude. I have done so many expeditions, I know exactly where I am, what I have to do and how much I can push. But you also have to be able to turn around. There was no endless discussion on Shishapangma between David and me. We both have a lot of experience and know what it means if you go too far. Then you will not come back one day. If you have experienced so many times climbers dying, you are much more conscious of this than someone who does it for the first time and says: “It’s snowing, well. We’ll go on, we’re not softies!”
Will you now travel more frequently with your wife to the Himalayas?
We have already made a lot of nice expeditions together. Nobody knows that. We are on holiday. And our agreement is that I don’t make it public. We will continue to go together on expedition. As long as possible.
Are you telling me your next project?
I want to try again the Everest-Lhotse traverse.
I certainly don’t need to ask whether with or without bottled oxygen.
The project is not interesting with bottled oxygen at all.
Will you do it alone or with a partner?
The idea is to climb with Tenji Sherpa as a team of two. (He joined Steck during his climb of Everest without breathing mask in 2012. Tenji also accompanied Ueli in later expeditions in Nepal.)
Will you try to be successful early in the season to avoid the crowds on the route?
I am relatively relaxed. If you are a climber, you can also go up off the trail. Even at Hillary Step you can turn right if you want. I will not let me put under stress.
Date15. October 2016 | 1:55
TagsDavid Goettler, David Göttler, Everest-Lhotse traverse, Mount Everest, Shishapangma South Face, Shivling, Ueli Steck
Shivling is one of the most beautiful mountains in the world. Some people call the 6,543-meter-high mountain in northern India the „Matterhorn“ of the Himalayas. Now a drama has taken place there. Two Polish climbers paid for the attempt to climb Shivling with their lives. Grzegorz Kukurowski and Lukasz Chrzanowski had tried to climb the mountain via the North Face. They stuck at 6,300 meters, about 200 meters below the summit.
Date14. October 2016 | 17:24
The tireless have done it again. The British Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden once again set climbing highlights, but, for a change, they were separately under way, with other team partners. Fowler, meanwhile 60 years (!) old, succeeded, along with his countryman Victor Saunders, the first ascent of the North Buttress of the 6100-meter-high Sersank in the North-Indian part of the Himalayas. Paul Ramsden and Nick Bullock climbed the North Face of the 7046-meter-high Nyainqentangla South East in Tibet for the first time. Last April, Fowler and Ramsden had won the Piolet d’Or, the “Oscar of the climbers”, for their first ascent of the 6571-meter-high Gave Ding, a remote mountain in northwestern Nepal. It was already the third “Golden Ice Axe” for the successful British team of two.
Date12. October 2016 | 15:47
TagsBullock, first ascent, India, Mick Fowler, North Buttress, Nyanqentangla South East, Ramsden, Sersank, Tibet, Victor Saunders
The world tends to gasping. It is caught somewhere between Snapchat, snapshot and a 140-character Twitter message – and it jumps onto every train, the main thing is, it’s running. The moments of leisure fall by the wayside. In the not too distant future, we will probably wonder how an expedition to an eight-thousander could ever last for two months. The American climbers Adrian Ballinger and Emily Harrington have reached their goal: Just two weeks after they set off from their house at Lake Tahoe in California, they opened the door again – in their baggage a successful climb of the eight-thousander Cho Oyu. Nine days after their departure, Adrian and Emily stood on the 8188-meter-high summit in Tibet. Then they skied down. Time to head home.
Date8. October 2016 | 12:21
Gone! Japanese Nobukazu Kuriki has abandoned his summit attempt in the Everest North Face and descended to the bottom of the wall. He would return to the Advanced Base Camp (ABC) on Central Rongbuk Glacier to gather new strength for another attempt, weather permitting, the 34-year-old said by radio. According to his own words, Kuriki decided to return after having reached an altitude of 7,400 meters during the night. “There was the feeling of wanting to continue. But judging the snow conditions and my physical condition, I decided to descend,” Nobukazu said. A picture on his Facebook page, taken from ABC, shows a light point clearly to the right of the planned route towards the Hornbein-Couloir.
Date7. October 2016 | 11:40
He is hell-bent. “I think the chance is there because the wind is weak”, Nobukazu Kuriki reported via Facebook from his Camp 3 at 6,800 meters in the North Face of Mount Everest. The Japanese wants to reach the summit solo and without bottled oxygen, in the upper part of the wall via the Hornbein Couloir. “The oxygen saturation of my blood is 81 percent and very stable,” the 34-year-old climber said and announced that he would continue to climb up still that Thursday evening (local time). If everything goes smoothly, he believes that he can possibly reach the summit on early Friday evening (local time). For Saturday, according to Kuriki, bad weather is expected.
Date6. October 2016 | 18:16
That sounds like a dance on a volcano, although Mount Everest isn’t one. According to his team Nobukazu Kuriki has started climbing the snowy Everest North Face. The 34-year-old Japanese wants to climb via the Hornbein Couloir to the 8850-meter-high summit, it said. Probably the “Supercouloir” route is meant, which combines the Japanese Couloir in the lower part with the Hornbein Couloir in the upper part of the wall. The route was opened by the Japanese climbers Tsuneo Shigehiro and Takashi Ozaki in spring 1980. “I am fully focused and start now”, Kuriki said by radio. In recent weeks Nobukazu had repeatedly explored possible ascent routes from the bottom of the wall and referred to high avalanche danger. For this reason, Kilian Jornet – as reported – had abandoned his Everest expedition. The Spaniard, known for his high-speed climbs, to his own words had climbed on the Tibetan normal route up to an altitude of 7,950 meters.
Date5. October 2016 | 11:33
Sometimes climate change puts a spoke in adventurer’s wheel. Actually, German top climber Alexander Huber and his teammates from East Tyrol, Mario Walder, Bruno Schneider and Christian Zenz, had planned this summer to free climb the South Face of Tupilak in East Greenland, 16 years after the first ascent. “This is an absolutely awesome, steep wall,” says Alexander. “But we have not even got there. It was impossible to walk 40 to 50 km to the mountain without the use of sledges.” The bare glacier ice without snow cover and the small stones on it had wrecked the Pulkas, the plastic sledges, within only one third of the distance. The four climbers had taken their skis in vain.
Alexander Huber had already visited East Greenland last year, but in another season. “You just cannot imagine in arctic winter that everything is completely free of snow in summer. This shows quite clearly the effect of climate change”, tells me the 47-year-old, the younger of the two Huber brothers. “It’s very unusual that the zero-degree line in Greenland is permanently at a height of 2500 to 3000 meters.”
Date5. October 2016 | 8:26
TagsAlexander Huber, Arctic, Bruno Schneider, Carpe Diem, Christian Zenz, climate change, East Greenland, Mario Walder, Ritterknecht
Anyone who has ever returned from of a summit attempt on a very high mountain – whether successful or not – , knows how German climber Billi Bierling is feeling now. All energy is used up, the adrenaline too – and the exertions of recent days are taking their toll. It takes a while before you revive. Of course, a summit success helps. Not only Billi – as reported – can be pleased about having been on top of Cho Oyu. Her team mate Susanne Mueller Zantop also reached the 8,188-meter-high summit, unlike Billi with bottled oxygen. The 60-year-old thus became the oldest German woman so far who has been on top of Cho Oyu, the sixth highest mountain in the world. For Billi Bierling it was already her fifth summit success on an eight-thousander. Despite of her tiredness, the 49-year-old has answered my questions.
Billi, you have climbed Cho Oyu without bottled oxygen. How did you feel on your ascent?
Date4. October 2016 | 8:54