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with Stefan Nestler

Everest evergreen Kuriki: Eighth attempt

Kuriki en route to Everest

He kept his word. At the end of the 2017 spring season, Nobukazu Kuriki had promised after his seventh failed attempt on Mount Everest: “I’ll be back.” Now the 35-year-old Japanese is again on the way to the base camp on the Nepalese south side, where he is expected on Thursday. To pre-acclimatize, Nobukazu had climbed in late March in four days to the summit of the 6038-meter-high Chulu Far East in the Annapurna region. As on his previous Everest attempts, Nobukazu wants to be en route on the highest of all mountains solo and without bottled oxygen. First, he plans to climb to the top of the 8516-meter-high Lhotse, the fourth highest mountain on earth, Kuriki writes on Facebook. Afterwards he wants to return to the base camp and then tackle Everest. Only immediately before his departure, Nobukazu wants to reveal his climbing route. “I will not give up,” he announced almost defiantly.

Date

24. April 2018 | 15:44

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Female climbers from Nepal on Everest: In the footsteps of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa

Statue of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa in Kathmandu

One drama, two versions. In both the protagonist dies, but the reasons given for her death differ significantly. Tomorrow, Sunday marks the 25th anniversary of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa becoming the first Nepali woman to reach the 8,850-meter-high summit of Mount Everest. The triumph ended in tragedy. The 31-year-old mother of three children subsequently died on the descent on the South Summit. According to the official Nepalese version, Pasang Lhamu lost valuable time on 22 April 1993 because she helped her teammate Sonam Tshering Sherpa who suffered from high altitude sickness. In addition the weather turned bad, it was said. A report written by the (recently deceased) legendary Himalayan chronicler Elizabeth Hawley, published in the American Alpine Journal, has a distinctly different tenor.

Date

21. April 2018 | 16:44

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Chasing Everest record unintentionally

Kami Rita Sherpa

Some records just happen by themselves. Like the one of Kami Rita Sherpa on Mount Everest. If the 48-year-old reaches the summit of the highest mountain on earth at 8,850 meters this spring as a team member of the Nepalese expedition operator “Seven Summit Treks”, he will be the sole record holder. He still shares the record of 21 Everest summit successes with Apa Sherpa and Phurba Tashi Sherpa. “I did not start climbing to set a world record,” Kami Rita told AFP. “But in the course of my work in the guiding industry this is going to be my 22nd ascent. It wasn’t for any competition.”

Date

14. April 2018 | 22:07

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Two teams will try Everest-Lhotse traverse

Halo above Everest Base Camp

The base camps on both sides of Mount Everest are slowly but surely filling up. For the Nepalese south side, the government in Kathmandu has issued around 275 permits to foreign climbers. The route through the Khumbu Icefall has been already completed. Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, expedition leader and head of the Nepalese operator “Imagine”, is enthusiastic about the work of the “Icefall Doctors”: “The route to Camp 1 is best so far. They used to experience ladders in more than 20 places but this year it is only in three different places with two ladders joined maximum. As the 32-year-old informed on Facebook, there are still two big crevasses between Camp 1 at about 6,000 meters and Camp 2 at 6,400 meters to be crossed. “It is expected to have at least three to five ladders joined.

Date

13. April 2018 | 17:11

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Tendi Sherpa: “Just don’t jump on Everest!”

Tendi Sherpa

He leaves the records to others. “I could do something to set a record on Everest, but I don’t want to do that because I have so much respect to the mountains,” Tendi Sherpa tells me. “I have no problems with others who do records. But for myself, my interest and my aim is: I just want to keep climbing mountains, keep leading and working as a normal guide. I don’t need to be super popular.” Tendi is already known. He has scaled Mount Everest eleven times so far, eight times from the south, three times from the north. Summit success number twelve could follow this spring. The 34-year-old will be the Sirdar, the head of the Sherpas, on an expedition of the US operator “Climbing the Seven Summits” on the Nepalese south side of the highest mountain in the world. Five of his clients want to climb Everest, two Lhotse.

Date

12. April 2018 | 18:02

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Happy Easter!

I wish you all and your loved ones Happy Easter. And the “Picasso from the river Rhine” 😉 is confronting you with another easter riddle: Which mountain have I conjured onto the egg?

P.S.: My blog is celebrating its eighth birthday today. 🙂

P.P.S.: I will now relax for more than a week. So don’t be surprised when you don’t here anything from me during the next days. This is no April joke. 🙂

Date

1. April 2018 | 10:02

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Double amputee from China tackles Everest

Xia Boyu

The decision of the Supreme Court of Nepal to overrule the government’s new Everest rules has cleared the way for him: the double amputee Xia Boyu from China will tackle the highest mountain on earth this spring from the Nepalese south side. “Yes, we got his permit”, Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, head and expedition leader of the Nepalese operator “Imagine Trek and Expedition” writes to me. As reported, the Supreme Court in Kathmandu had rejected in early March the government’s new rule not to issue permits to double-amputee climbers and blind people as discriminating. Mingma Gyalje had shaken his head at the government’s decision: “There are a lot of disabled climbers who are more capable than non-disabled.”

Date

31. March 2018 | 21:46

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News from Pamper Land: Luxury on Everest

First have a shoeshine

Call me old fashioned. But for me, the special appeal of expeditions is also to leave everyday’s comfort zone and live a simpler life in the mountains, in the ice or anywhere else. This must not mean that you have to mutate into a caveman. But if, as happened recently on Mount Kilimanjaro, I see Korean mountaineers who, just after arriving at the Kibo Hut at 4,720 meters, first let local helpers dust off their shoes, I can only shake my head. Not as embarrassing, but similarly disturbing, I feel it when a tent camp on a mountain hardly differs from your own apartment. Even on Mount Everest!

Date

29. March 2018 | 23:00

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Carlos Soria: Dhaulagiri, take nine!

Carlos Soria

Carlos Soria doesn’t give up. The now 79-year-old Spaniard set off again to Nepal to climb his 13th of the 14 eight-thousanders. Already for the ninth time, Carlos will tackle Dhaulagiri. Last year, Soria and Co. had had to abandon their only summit attempt in the upper part of the 8,167-meter-high mountain because they had missed the right route while the fog had become denser. Later heavy snow had impeded a second try. “This time I am sure that we will succeed,” said the probably fittest of all climbing seniors optimistically before his departure for Kathmandu.

Date

27. March 2018 | 11:59

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Mingma Sherpa: “We don’t need rules for Everest”

Mingma Sherpa

No question, Seven Summits Treks polarize. On the one hand, there are the critics who accuse the Nepalese expedition operator of attracting clients with dumping prices at the cost of safey. On the other hand, there are apparently many climbers who, despite all critical voices, book at Seven Summits Treks. No matter on which eight-thousander, almost always the agency of Mingma Sherpa crops up with the biggest expedition team. “I am very successful in my business because my clients believe in me,” the head of the company tells me in Kathmandu. In 2011, Mingma was the first Nepalese to complete his collection of the 14 eight-thousanders. “I wanted to show that we Sherpas are not only good porters or mountain guides, but also real climbers.” In 2013, his younger brother Chhang Dawa Sherpa followed the example of Mingma. They are the only brothers so far who stood on all 14 eight-thousanders. Chhang Dawa also works as an expedition manager at Seven Summit Treks.

Date

26. March 2018 | 8:20

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Unforgotten: Jerzy Kukuczka

Jerzy Kukuczka (1948 – 1989)

One of the all-time best high altitude climbers would have celebrated his 70th birthday this Saturday. But he missed this day of honor by more than 28 years: In fall 1989 Jerzy Kukuczka died at the age of 41 in an accident on Lhotse, the fourth highest mountain on earth. The Pole had previously scaled as the second climber after Reinhold Messner all 14 eight-thousanders. At times it looked as if Kukuczka could even snatch away the crown from Messner, but then the South Tyrolean closed the eight-thousander match with his ascents of Makalu and Lhotse in fall 1986. Just one year later, in September 1987, when the rather publicity-shy Kukuzczka completed his collection, Messner honored him with the words: “You are not the second, you’re great.”

Date

24. March 2018 | 12:57

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Maya Sherpa: Next try on Kangchenjunga

Maya Sherpa

Second attempt. This spring, Maya Sherpa, one of Nepal’s most famous and best female climbers, will tackle Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. “I am happy to go there again,“ the 40-year-old told me as we met in Kathmandu last week. “I have found sponsors who support me. However, my goal is not only to climb Kangchenjunga, I like to climb more 8,000-meter-peaks as the first Nepali woman.” In May 2017, Maya and her Nepalese friends and teammates Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita and Dawa Yangzum Sherpa had had to turn around on the 8,586-meter-high Kangchenjunga, about 300 meters below the highest point. The entire group of summit candidates had run out of ropes. “One of our Climbing Sherpas told us then that they had made the same mistake in spring 2013,” said Maya. “At that time, they went up to the summit. On descent, two Sherpas and three foreign climbers died because there was no rope, they were tired and it was extremely slippery in the upper part of the mountain, especially on the rock.”

Date

23. March 2018 | 9:37

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Ralf Dujmovits: “I’ve closed the chapter Everest”

Enthusiastic welcome für Ralf Dujmovits (r.)

A joint week in Nepal is behind Ralf Dujmovits and me. As reported before, we inaugurated the first two parts of the new school building in Thulosirubari, a small mountain village about 70 kilometers east of Kathmandu, which could be built thanks to our aid project “School up!”. And we laid the foundation for the second construction phase. In Kathmandu I conducted some interviews – you could already read those with the expedition operators Arnold Coster and Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, more will follow shortly. Ralf took the time to meet old acquaintances and to visit some of his favorite spots in the capital. The 56-year-old is so far the only German mountaineer who has scaled all 14 eight-thousanders. Only on Mount Everest in fall 1992 he used bottled oxygen. Later he tried seven times to climb the highest mountain in the world without breathing mask, seven times he failed to reach the summit – most recently in spring 2017 at 8,580 meters on the Tibetan north side of the mountain.

Ralf, we are now here in Kathmandu, not far from Mount Everest, about 160 kilometers as the crow flies. Is it not itching you a bit?

Not at all, at the moment. I have completed this story for me. Of course, I follow what’s happening on Everest. This is still very exciting. But for myself, I have closed the chapter Everest. 

Date

21. March 2018 | 22:22

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Mingma Gyalje Sherpa: “Discounters are dealing with people’s life”

Mingma Gyalje Sherpa

His secret of success? “Actually this is my job, because I run a company. So I need to lead my clients to the summit,” Mingma Gyalje Sherpa tells me as we sit opposite each other in a café in Kathmandu. In recent years, the 31-year-old has blossomed to the high-flyer among the Sherpas. In fall 2015, he succeeded the first ascent of the West Face of the 6685-meter-high Chobutse in Rolwaling, his home valley – and he did it alone. It was the first solo ascent of a Sherpa in Nepal. Even as an expedition leader, he made headlines. In 2017, no one climbed so often above the magical 8,000-meter-mark as Mingma. The head of the expedition operator “Imagine Trek and Expedition” entered the death zone six times: on Dhaulagiri, Makalu, K2, Broad Peak and twice on Nanga Parbat. Four times he reached the summit (Dhaulagiri, Makalu, K2, Nanga Parbat), the fifth ascent on Broad Peak is disputed. “I will return to this mountain this year,” Mingma announces. “Actually I am quite sure that we made the summit. But this time, I want to reach the highest point of Broad Peak without any doubt, on the one hand to end the debate, on the other for my own satisfaction.”

Date

18. March 2018 | 18:56

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“School up!”: Thulosirubari celebrates new school

Musicians accompany us to the school

This roadblock is not an ordinary one. Five hundred meters in front of the school grounds in Thulosirubari, 70 kilometers east of the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, our journey in a jeep ends. Eight musicians stand in the middle of the dusty piste through the village. When Ralf Dujmovits – the first and so far only German mountaineer who scaled all 14 eight-thousanders – and I get out of the car, they begin to play for us on their traditional instruments. Behind the music playing village band  we ascend the last meters to the school.

Arrival

There a big event has been organized for us. Several hundred students, parents, teachers, local notables and other residents of Thulosirubari are awaiting us for the ceremonial inauguration and handing over of the first two parts of the building to the local school committee – made possible by your donations to our aid project “School up!”. The old school had been so badly damaged by the devastating earthquake in Nepal on 25 April 2015 that it had had to be demolished. At the end of June 2015, I had launched together with Ralf Dujmovits and the Austrian climber Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner “School up!” to rebuild the Thulosirubari school as soon as possible.

Date

17. March 2018 | 9:30

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