“Back to the adventure!”, Alex Txikon wrote on Twitter. After eight days in the Nepali capital Kathmandu, the 35-year-old Basque has flown back to Mount Everest by helicopter. “We are already at the Base Camp at 5,250 meters, with very good sensations,” said Alex. “Despite having lost weight and having worked hardly, I am physically still very strong.” According to Alex’ words, it’s still sunny and windy at the top of the mountain, as it had been since the beginning of the expedition in early January. Already on Sunday, Txikon wants to climb up with his Sherpa team to check their previous route through the Khumbu Icefall up to Camp 1 on 6,050 meters and if necessary to repair it or to relocate the way through the ice labyrinth.
Date25. February 2017 | 16:27
TagsAlex Txikon, Everest Base Camp, Mount Everest, Nuri Sherpa, Return, Seven Summits Treks, winter ascent, winter expedition
Training for life: Outdoor against Cancer
After the expedition to Papua New Guinea, another one followed: the most dangerous expedition in Petra Thaller’s life. In December 2014, the German journalist had climbed the Carstensz Pyramid, with an altitude of 4,884 meters the highest mountain of Oceania, making it one of the “Seven Summits”, the highest peaks on all continents. Shortly after her return Petra realized that her breast was changing. The doctor’s diagnosis: cancer. Six tumors in her right breast. Later, even a seventh developed. Thaller was committed to fight against the disease, the full program: surgery, chemotherapy, antibody therapy. And she continued to do sports. “I was really fit back then,” the 55-year-old from the German town of Munich tells me. “I started super-trained into chemotherapy, and I’ve always been doing sports during all twelve therapy cycles. I continued to run. And I was fine.” Petra wanted to share this experience with other cancer patients. Therefore she founded the initiative “Outdoor against Cancer” (OaC).
Good for the psyche
“At that time there were simply no outdoor activities for cancer patients,” says Thaller. She ran along with her daughter and her son. “I told them, ‘If I feel bad, you can kick me in the ass and send me out.’ And that’s what they did.” Thanks to OaC, the situation for cancer patients who want to do outdoor sports despite their disease has changed. Groups meet regularly, whether for jogging, circuit training, snowshoeing, mountain biking or sailing. And the project is expanding: from Munich to all of Germany. OaC programs are soon to be available in other European countries too. “I just realized that my psyche benefitted from my sporting activities,” Petra describes her experiences during chemotherapy. “I just had no depression. I never thought about the reason why I got cancer, even though I always had eaten healthy and done a lot of sports. And I also didn’t think about the possibility to die of cancer. It was just not my scene.”
Here and now
Thaller exudes an immense joy of life that is contagious. “I don’t want to miss enjoying life,” says Petra. She tells of a 44-year-old man who is suffering from a brain tumor. He did not leave his house for five months after the diagnosis of cancer. Today he is one of the regular members of her training group: “He once said, ‘Petra makes me fit again’. That was actually the biggest gift.” I ask her whether doing sports is more training for her body or for her soul. “It’s training for life,” answers Thaller. Survival Training? She shakes her head. “Training for life. It has nothing to do with survival. Enjoy life, here and now!” This is the message she wants to give to other cancer patients: “Get out! Do something, go on a trip! Life is taking place now and not in maybe five years, when someone says, you are out of the woods now.”
Next destination: Aconcagua
Her last chemotherapy is long behind Petra Thaller, half a year ago she underwent her last antibody therapy. Is she over the hump? “When in your live you are ever over the hump?” Petra says, laughing. “I never thought that it could go wrong. Therefore maybe I am a good example that it can go well.” The expedition to the Carstensz Pyramid is soon to be followed by a new one: “I already have a goal for next year,” says Petra. “I’ll go to Aconcagua.” The highest mountain of South America (6,962 m) also belongs to the “Seven Summits”. The highest of all mountains is not an issue for her, says Thaller: “Everest has never interested me.” She has already climbed her personal Mount Everest anyway.
Date23. February 2017 | 15:52
TagsAconcagua, Cancer, Carstensz Pyramid, Chemotherapy, Outdoor, Outdoor against Cancer, Petra Thaller, Sports
What a high-caliber training group! The Swiss Ueli Steck, the Nepalese Tenji Sherpa, the German David Goettler and the Italian Hervé Barmasse have been preparing themselves for their expeditions in spring in the village of Chukhung in the Everest region for ten days. Steck and Tenji Sherpa plan to traverse Mount Everest and Lhotse. No one has yet managed to do this without bottled oxygen. Goettler and Barmasse want to open a new route via the Shishapangma South Face in Tibet. In the course of the training, mountain running was at the focus. “I ran three times from Chukhung (4,730 meters) to Island Peak (6,180 meters),” writes Ueli. He had climbed and run a total of about 12,000 vertical meters over a distance of around 150 kilometers. “My body and my soul feel great,” says Steck. “I really enjoy being here in Nepal with such good friends. Just climb and run and nothing else.”
Date21. February 2017 | 14:29
TagsChukhung, David Goettler, Everest-Lhotse traverse, Herve Barmasse, Lhotse, Mount Everest, Namche Bazaar, Shishapangma South Face, Tenji Sherpa, Ueli Steck
Expeditions can also get out of the rhythm. For example, if a long bad weather period thwarts all plans or if unpredictable things happen such as illnesses or injuries. Alex Txikon‘s Everest winter expedition, however, has stuttered for another reason. After the failed first summit attempt, the Nepalese agency Seven Summits Treks, with whom Txikon cooperated, yesterday ordered surprisingly to break immediately the Base Camp and return. This decision was “unilateral”, the team of the 35-year-old Basque said. Alex was quoted as saying, “I do not want to leave Everest.”
Date16. February 2017 | 19:02
Txikon abandons first summit attempt on Everest
The dream of an Everest summit success in the first run has gone. Alex Txikon has abandoned his summit attempt and returned to the base camp. “I assure you that I have not given up,” the 35-year-old Basque wrote on Twitter. On Monday, Alex had climbed along with Norbu Sherpa and Chhepal Sherpa at temperatures of about minus 40 degrees Celsius to the South Col on 7,950 meters. But there such a strong wind was blowing that it was impossible to pitch a tent. “We have decided it was not the time to challenge nature at these heights and conditions, since we are nothing in dealing with it, and we could have suffered frostbite or even worse,” Txikon wrote later from Camp 3, adding that at times, it had become a tougher battle than the summit attack of last winter on Nanga Parbat.
After two nights at above 7,000 meters Txikon turned around. Winter is far from over. Alex Txikon will get even more chances. So time to recover and to try it once again.
Date14. February 2017 | 18:52
Only half an hour at Everest South Col
Mount Everest shows its teeth. Alex Txikon, Nurbu Sherpa and Chhepal Sherpa stayed only for a short time on the South Col at 7,950 meters. “After reaching Camp 4, the wind hasn’t given a truce and we have just gone down to Camp 3, until the storm subsides,” Alex wrote on Twitter. His team later added that the three climbers had been at the South Col for only half an hour. The wind had blown with about 70 km/h. It was impossible to pitch the tent. Alex, Nurbu and Chhepal wanted to spend another night in Camp 3 at 7,400 meters.
It’s questionable whether the trio will climb up again on Tuesday. The weather forecast predicts squalls also for tomorrow afternoon. The wind is to calm down not before Wednesday morning. So it remains exciting.
Date13. February 2017 | 17:35
“The die is cast,” says Alex Txikon. “There will be only a single summit attack and we will try to climb as we have done so far.” Today the 35-year-old Basque climbed along with the Sherpas Nurbu and Chhepal from Everest Base Camp at 5,250 meters to Camp 2 at 6,400 meters. The other three Sherpas of Alex’ team, Nuri, Pemba and Phurba, want to follow on Saturday. For five days, Txikon and Co. had sat out the bad weather – with squalls of up to 190 km/h in the summit area – in Base Camp. At first, the climbers want to check whether the equipment which they had deposited in Camp 3 at 7,300 meters and in Camp 4 on the South Col at 7,950 meters has been damaged or even blown away and therefore has to be replaced.
Date10. February 2017 | 18:35
TagsAlex Txikon, Ang Rita Sherpa, Camp 2, Mount Everest, South Col, summit attempt, winter ascent, Without bottled oxygen
Thomas Huber radiates pure joie de vivre. “I’m doing well, more than in a long time,” says the 50-year-old German top climber, as we meet at the ISPO sporting goods trade fair in Munich. On 30 December, the older of the two Huber brothers had provided another highlight of his career: Along with the Swiss climbers Stephan Siegrist and Roger Schaeli, Thomas succeeded the second ascent of the legendary route “Metanoia” in the centre of the Eiger North Face: “How can a year end better? I have just taken this flow with me,” enthuses Huber.
Date9. February 2017 | 16:59
TagsEiger North Face, Jeff Lowe, Latok I, Metanoia, Pakistan, Roger Schaeli, Stephan Siegrist, Thomas Huber
Krzysztof Wielicki is skeptical. “I think they can have a problem because they only slept in Camp 3 and not at 8,000 meters,” answers the Pole when I meet him at the trade fair ISPO in Munich and enquire him about the chances of the Basque climber Alex Txikon on Mount Everest. Txikon, who wants to scale the highest mountain of the world this winter without bottled oxygen, is currently waiting in Everest Base Camp to set off for his first summit attempt. “In my opinion, you should have slept at the South Col, if you want to push to the summit,” says Wielicki. “I wish him good luck, I hope that nothing happens. It’s most important that they’ll come back safely. It doesn’t matter if they climb to the summit or not.”
Date9. February 2017 | 1:01
TagsBielecki, Bottled oxygen, ISPO, K 2, Mount Everest, Poland, Txikon, Urubko, Wielicki, winter ascent, winter expedition
Alex Txikon seems to be euphoric. “I do not feel tired,” writes the 35-year-old Basque, after having descended from Everest South Col at 7,950 meters in one go to Base Camp at about 5,300 meters. “My body signals to me that we will go to the summit the next time. Soon you will have news of the attack.” Before, Alex – along with the Sherpas Norbu, Nuri, Chhepal, Phurba and Pemba – had ascended to Camp 4 for the first time during his winter expedition.
Date6. February 2017 | 10:05
Alex Txikon and his Sherpa team have reached the Base camp at the foot of Mount Everest in sufficient time before the beginning of the expected bad weather period. This is shown by his GPS tracker. The 35-year-old Basque was “exhausted but satisfied and very confident to reach the summit,” the Spanish sports newspaper “Marca” reported on Saturday evening. It has not yet been confirmed how high exactly Txikon and Co. have ascended this time.
Date4. February 2017 | 22:09
Strange. Since yesterday, Alex Txikon‘s GPS tracker, which is to document his ascent on Mount Everest, has not shown any movement. Lastly, an altitude of more than 6200 meters was displayed. Afterwards nothing. I’ve asked. “Yesterday they [Alex and the Sherpas who accompany him] went up to Camp 2 (6,400 meters), where they have slept,” Gontzal Saenz from the press team of the Basque climber writes to me. According to him, the GPS tracker has not been working correctly and is showing the wrong altitude. “I think they were going to keep climbing up today.” The goal was to prepare the route from Camp 3 at 7,400 meters to Camp 4 on the South Col at 7,950 meters by tomorrow. “The weather forecasts are very bad, with very strong winds, for the next few days,” writes Gontzal. “The plan is to return to the base camp tomorrow [Saturday] and wait there for the weather to improve again.”
Date3. February 2017 | 17:01
TagsAlex Txikon, Base Camp, GPS-Tracker, Mount Everest, South Col, winter ascent, winter expedition
Alex Txikon has set off again. At 4.30 a.m. local time, the Basque and his Sherpa team left Everest Base Camp. Their declared destination today: Camp 2 at 6,400 meters. The last entry of his GPS tracker shows a position above Camp 1 in the “Western Cwm” at 6,216 meters. There has as yet been no confirmation that Alex and Co. have reached Camp 2. The 35-year-old wants to scale Mount Everest without bottled oxygen – a feat that before him only Ang Rita Sherpa had succeeded on 22 December 1987, on the very first day of calendrical winter. The Nepalese was then climbing Everest much earlier in the cold season than Txikon now.
Date2. February 2017 | 16:04
TagsAlex Txikon, Ang Rita Sherpa, Mount Everest, weather forecast, winter ascent, winter expedition
Mountaineers and climbers travel. Frequently and as self-evident. Finally mountains do not come to them. This is precisely why it should be self-evident that people involved in mountain sports should raise their voices when the freedom of travel is restricted or even abolished – as now by US President Donald Trump for people from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. So far, the great outcry of the climbing scene has stayed away. Is it perhaps because in these countries – with the exception of Iran – the number of mountaineers and climbers is limited? Or because those countries are (still) not among the favorite destinations of the mountain friends? After all, German top climber Stefan Glowacz didn’t mince his words.
Date1. February 2017 | 16:05
Four are standing around and discussing, one is working. This image is known from public construction sites in Germany. The situation is quite different in Thulosirubari, a small village about 70 kilometers east of Kathmandu. There the new school is being built with great enthusiasm – made possible by your donations for our aid projekt “School up!”. “All villagers are happy to be able to help with the work,” says Shyam Pandit, liaison man of the German aid organization “Nepalhilfe Beilngries” in the Himalayan state. Devi Dulal, head of the local school committee, is also delighted: “This will be a unique building for us. The work on this is very satisfactory for us.” The old school had been so badly damaged by the devastating earthquake at the end of April 2015 that it had had to be demolished. At the end of June 2015, I had launched – along with the extreme climbers Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Ralf Dujmovits – “School up!” to rebuild the school as quickly as possible. In the meantime, the ceiling of the first floor has been concreted. Here are some impressions of the construction site from the past weeks:
Date31. January 2017 | 15:38
TagsAid project: School up!, DAV Cologne, Devi Dulal, Gerlinde and Ralf School, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, Nepalhilfe Beilngries, Ralf Dujmovits, Shyam Pandit, Thulosirubari