Damn, it’s itching. Inevitably as a mosquito bite on a muggy summer day is the annually recurring announcement of the Nepalese government to set up new rules for climbers on Mount Everest. Mind you, the announcement, not the implementation. This year is no exception. This week Sudarshan Prasad Dhakal from the Nepalese Tourism Ministry told the Kathmandu-based newspaper “The Himalayan Times” that the “Mountaineering Expedition Regulation”, which is in force since 2002, should be amended: According to the draft, mountaineers who are older than 75 years should be banned from climbing Everest as well as double amputees or blind climbers. In addition, each Everest aspirant should have climbed at least a seven-thousander before. Déjà-vu?
Date22. July 2016 | 15:54
TagsAge limit, Dawa Steven Sherpa, Disabled climbers, Everest rules, Himalayan Times, Mount Everest, Nepalese Tourism Ministry
Approximately 1.8 seconds. That was the time it took when Thomas Huber fell 16 meters deep from a rock face on the Brendlberg in the Berchtesgaden region in Bavaria – now two weeks ago. As previously reported, the 49-year-old German top climber, the older of the two Huber brothers, landed on soft forest floor. As it turned out later, Thomas suffered a skull fracture and had to undergo surgery immediately. The doctor’s reassuring prognosis afterwards: no permanent damage. Meanwhile, Thomas has left the hospital and is recovering at home. I have phoned him.
Thomas, first things first: How are you?
Date19. July 2016 | 23:24
TagsBrendlberg, Climbing, Fall, Huber brothers, Interview, Latok I, Scull fracture, Thomas Huber, Watzmannflimmern
There are things that simply cannot be understood. Like the recent decision of the Nepalese Tourism Ministry. According to the Kathmandu-based newspaper “The Himalayan Times”, the Ministry refused to issue the compulsory summit certificates to all Climbing Sherpas who scaled Mount Everest this spring season.
Date15. July 2016 | 16:07
TagsCertificate, Climbing Sherpas, Himalayan Times, Mount Everest, Nepalese Tourism Ministry, Zertifikat
It is raining – at 9 p.m. at 5,000 meters in the Karakoram. “It’s incredibly warm here,” Ralf Dujmovits, Germany’s most successful high altitude climber, tells me via satellite phone from the Base Camp at the foot of Praqpa Ri. “We sat together until late in the evening with an open tent.” The unusually warm weather has resulted in difficult conditions on the seven-thousander so that its summit remains virgin. Like before on the also unclimbed seven-thousander Gasherbrum VI the 54-year-old German and his 47-year-old Canadian partner Nancy Hansen had to abandon their summit attempt. “We fought for every meter on ascent,” says Ralf. In vain.
Ralf, how far up did you climb this time?
Date15. July 2016 | 10:35
24 September 2014, 6.55 a.m.: Five men are climbing at 7,900 meters towards the summit of the eight-thousander Shishapangma when the avalanche releases. The Germans Sebastian Haag and Martin Maier and Italian Andrea Zambaldi are swept several hundred meters down the slope. German Benedikt Boehm and Swiss Ueli Steck have a lucky escape and get away from the snow masses. The 36-year-old Haag and the 32-year-old Zambaldi die. Maier miraculously survives and is able to escape by his own strength to the high camp. The news of the incident first appears in my blog. The first interviews about the avalanche with Bene Boehm and Martin Maier can also be read on “Adventure Sports”.
“Time does not heal everything”
More than one and a half year later, Martin has opened up a debate on the incident by giving an interview to the German magazine “Bergsteiger”. The 41-year-old industrial engineer is in his own words still suffering from long-term effects which are not only health problems: “Time does not heal everything – neither injuries that have remained to this day nor the sadness and bitterness about the fact that people want to increase their self-esteem at the expense of others.” Maier accuses the other two survivors of the avalanche, Boehm and Steck, of not having told the truth and of having abandoned him too quickly.
Date12. July 2016 | 21:25
TagsAndrea Zambaldi, Avalanche, Benedikt Boehm, Interview, Magazine "Bergsteiger", Martin Maier, Sebastian Haag, September 2014, Shishapangma, Ueli Steck
Again one of the really great high altitude climbers was torn out of his life: The 55-year-old Swiss Norbert Joos fell to death on Piz Bernina in the canton Grisons. According to Swiss media reports, Joos had guided a group to the 4049-meter-high summit. On the descent the roped party of three, to which Joos belonged, fell 160 meters deep. Joos was found dead, the other two climbers, a woman and a man from Italy, survived seriously injured.
Date11. July 2016 | 14:13
TagsAnnapurna, Eight-thousander, Fall to death, Kangchendzönga, Mount Everest, Norbert Joos, Piz Bernina, Stroke
“I already feel a lot better again,” Thomas Huber writes to me from the hospital in the Bavarian town of Traunstein. If that’s not good news! After all, the 49-year-old German top climber – as reported yesterday – had fallen twelve meters deep from a rock face on the Brendlberg near the village of Scheffau. According to the German website bgland24.de, the accident happened when Huber was abseiling. Thomas was standing on a small ledge, unclipped from the belay to take another rope, when he lost his balance. This could have ended in catastrophe. Probably owing only to “1000 guardian angels” (Thomas) and his instinct, nothing worse happened to him.
Date9. July 2016 | 17:19
“Contrary to all the reports: I am okay,” Thomas Huber writes on Facebook. “I had 1000 guardian angels.” According to the website bgland24.de, the 49-year-old German top climber fell 20 meters deep from a rock wall on the Brendlberg in the Berchtesgaden region in Bavaria, when he was preparing for filming on Tuesday. Thomas meanwhile said it was a 12-meter-fall. He had opened a new route in the wall in late May. The climber was taken to the hospital of the town of Traunstein. Thomas is said to have suffered a fracture of the skull in the fall. Reportedly he was immediately operated for a blood clot.
Date8. July 2016 | 11:24
The truth will out. According to the Kathmandu-based newspaper “The Himalayan Times”, the Nepalese Tourism Ministry has initiated sanctions on the Indian couple that – as reported before – has obviously submitted faked summit pictures to get their Everest certificates. Most likely these certificates will be canceled and the cheat climbers might be banned from mountaineering in Nepal for up to ten years. “Department of Tourism will also take necessary action against the Liaison Officer, Climbing Sherpas and expedition organizing company,” DoT director Sudarshan Prasad Dhakal told the “Himalayan Times”. The two Sherpas who had supported Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod on Everest were still “out of reach”, said the operator Makalu Adventure blaming the Sherpas for the goof-up.
The staff of Himalayan Database, the mountaineering chronicle of legendary Elizabeth Hawley, is also checking the case. I’ve contacted Billi Bierling. The 49-year-old German journalist and climber is the designated successor of Miss Hawley, aged 92.
Billi, you and your colleagues from the Himalayan Database have also obviously been deceived by the Indian couple when you interviewed them. What’s about the much-trumpeted climbers’ honor?
Date5. July 2016 | 13:55
TagsBilli Bierling, Dinesh Rathod, Faked summit pictures, Fraud, Himalayan Database, Himalayan Times, Mount Everest, Nepalese Tourism Ministry, Tarakeshwari Rathod
One eight-thousander is still missing. Then Nives Meroi and Romano Benet would be the first couple who would have scaled together the 14 highest mountains in the world – always without bottled oxygen and without Sherpa support. On 12 May, the two 54-year-olds from Italy stood at the top of their eight-thousander No. 13, the 8485-meter-high Makalu in Nepal.
Nives was 19 years old when she met Romano. First he was her climbing partner, then her life partner. They are married for 27 years. In 1998, they scaled Nanga Parbat, it was their first eight-thousander. In 2003, they succeeded in climbing the Karakorum trilogy of Gasherbrum I, II and Broad Peak in just 20 days. In 2007, Meroi was the first Italian woman who climbed Everest without oxygen mask.
But there were also setbacks. In 2009, Meroi had a good chance to become the first woman on all 14 eight-thousanders. On Kangchenjunga, at 7500 meters, Romano suddenly became increasingly weak. He tried to persuade Nives to climb on alone. But she refused and supported him during the descent. The reason for Benet’s weakness was serious: aplastic anemia. Two bone marrow transplants were necessary to save Romano’s life. They returned to the Himalayas. In 2014, Romano and Nives climbed Kangchenjunga. And now Makalu. Five questions to and five answers by Nives Meroi:
Nives, Romano and you have managed to climb Makalu, your 13th eight-thousander. If you compare it with the other twelve, was it rather one of the more difficult or easier ascents?
Date4. July 2016 | 22:48
TagsAplastic anemia, Eight-thousander, Expedition 2016, Kangchenjunga, Makalu, Nives Meroi, Romano Benet
Did they fudge on Everest? Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod were celebrated in their home country for being the first Indian couple who, on 23 May, had summited Mount Everest. Now there is considerable doubt that the two 30-year-olds really reached the highest point. The summit picture of Tarakeshwari Rathod that the two Indians submitted to the Nepalese Tourism Ministry to receive their Everest certificated, obviously turned out to be a forgery. Apparently by using an image editing software, the face of the Indian woman was copied to the summit picture of her compatriot Satyarup Siddhanta.
Date30. June 2016 | 14:59
TagsDinesh Rathod, Fälschung, Forgery, Himalayan Times, Mount Everest, Nepal, Nepalese Tourism Ministry, Satyarup Siddhanta, Summit picture, Tarakeshwari Rathod
The seven-thousander Gasherbrum VI in the Karakoram in Pakistan remains unclimbed. 54-year-old Ralf Dujmovits, Germany’s most successful high-altitude climber, and 47-year-old Canadian Nancy Hansen abandoned their attempt to first climb the 6,973-meter-high mountain (other elevation: 7,004 meters) in the Karakoram. They turned around at an altitude of 6,400 meters. “We did our best,” Ralf tells me via satellite phone. “Nancy fought in the slabs like a bear. It just was not meant to be. Finally we don’t want to commit suicide.”
Date29. June 2016 | 17:13
You have a visa for Pakistan, a climbing permit for an eight-thousander, you have organized everything. You travel to Islamabad and at the airport you learn that you are a persona non grata and have to leave the country. That’s exactly what happened to the Australian-New Zealand climber Chris Jensen Burke (she has both citizenships) and the Nepalese Sherpa Lakpa Sherpa. “The reasons why are stranger than fiction and I won’t put the detail here,” Chris wrote in her blog. Obviously she fears to risk alienating the Pakistani authorities if she is quite clear.
Date29. June 2016 | 8:59
TagsAlpine Club of Pakistan, Broad Peak, Chris Jensen Burke, Deportation, K 2, Lakpa Sherpa, Mike Horn, Muhammad Ali Sadpara, Nanga Parbat, Pakistan, Permit, Visa
“It was a good season,” Nishma Khadgi writes to me. She is responsible for marketing at Asian Trekking, the leading expedition operator in Nepal. “Things are largely normalized and morale of climbers and sherpas are positive which make us optimistic for the future seasons.” According to the Nepalese Tourism Ministry, this spring 456 climbers reached the summit of Mount Everest from the south side of the mountain, 199 were climbers from abroad. The official figures from the north side are still not available.
Nepalese Mingma Gyalje Sherpa and Swiss Kari Kobler are two other expedition leaders who have responded to my request to tell me their personal record of this spring’s Everest season. Mingma was on the south side, Kari on the north side. Both are now staying in Pakistan, where they lead expeditions to K 2, the second highest mountain on Earth. And they have another thing in common: Both expedition leaders scaled themselves Mount Everest in May.
Date21. June 2016 | 11:59
TagsDreamers Destination, Kari Kobler, Kobler & Partner, Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, Mount Everest, Nepal, Spring season, Tibet
“Really annoying that this happened to me at the very beginning!” Ralf Dujmovits, Germany’s most successful high altitude climber, is upset that he has first suffered from diarrhea and then from a bad cold while trekking on the Baltoro Glacier. “Meanwhile I feel better, but I realize that I still lack power,” Ralf tells me, when I reach him on satellite phone during an exploration trip. The 54-year-old and his girlfriend, the 47-year-old Canadian climber Nancy Hansen, traveled to the Karakoram in order to try first ascents of two still unclimbed mountains: first Gasherbrum VI (the reported altitude varies between 6,973 and 7,004 meters), then, not far away, Praqpa Ri (different elevation data too: 7,134 or 7,152 meters). The two climbers have pitched up their Base Camp at the foot of Gasherbrum VI.
Ralf, how have you experienced Pakistan so far? The country is still said to be a risk area.
Date17. June 2016 | 14:49
TagsBaltoro Glacier, Gasherbrum VI, K 2, Karakoram, Karakorum, Nancy Hansen, Pakistan, Parqpa Ri, Ralf Dujmovits