The most important thing first: Alix von Melle is doing well under the circumstances. The 42-year-old, who has scaled six eight-thousanders and is therefore the most successful German female high altitude climber, started with her husband Luis Stitzinger for their second summit attempt on Makalu at the end of last week. Both reached their last high camp at 7600 meters, as planned. The following night Alix and Luis began to climb to the summit. They wanted to reach the highest point at 8485 meters without bottled oxygen. It was cold and windy, Luis writes. “Like in the past days Alix was plagued by a strong cough, in the extremely cold and dry air at an altitude of more than 7500 meters. After a strong coughing fit Alix suddenly said: Something’s not right, I can hardly breathe!”
Date30. May 2014 | 16:01
Super Sunday on Makalu. Two German female climbers reached the 8485-meter-high summit of the fifth highest mountain in the world on 25 May: Heidi Sand and Billi Bierling. Both were members of the team of Himalayan Experience. Therefore I am tempted to say that both are the first German women on Makalu.Heidi Sand was motivated to do high altitude mountaineering by a serious illness. When she was 43 years old, the sculptor from the town of Stuttgart she got the devastating diagnosis: colon cancer. She swore: If I survive, I will scale Mount Everest. Both happened. Heidi fought the cancer and reached the top of the world in 2012. In 2013, she scaled Cho Oyu – and now at the age of 47 years her third eight-thousander Makalu.
Date27. May 2014 | 22:57
Failure is hard, even for a climber who is up to every trick in the mountains. „I’m not satisfied“, Ralf Dujmovits admits. On Monday he arrived safely back in Advanced Base Camp ABC) at 6400 meters. But what happened to him on Saturday in Camp 3 will probably captivate him for a long time. „I really felt fine all the way up to 8300 meters. But then within half an hour everything changed“, Ralf told me on Monday. The uneven ground, the white frost on the inside of the single-walled tent which melted, dripped down and made everything wet, including his lighter. „It just threw me off course that I could no longer melt snow.“
I ask the 52-year-old whether everything would have been different if he had chosen another tent for Camp 3. „It’s possible. But I chose the lightweight tent because I wanted to reduce the weight as much as possible“, Ralf answers. „If you can carry more, you surely take a different tent.“ And if he had found a better place for his tent? „Then perhaps it would have been different.“ If and would and when, pure speculation. „I ‘m not the kind of man who blames everything on the external circumstances. I am also self-critical“, says Dujmovits. „It was just the way it was.“
Date27. May 2014 | 18:35
Ralf Dujmovits is annoyed. More about himself than about the fact that his dream to climb Mount Everest without bottled oxygen has disappeared. At 8300 meters, Germany’s most successful high-altitude climber decided not to start to the 8850-meter-high summit but to turn around. “I have performed badly”, says Ralf when he calls me by satellite phone from Camp 2 at 7700 meters. “I made a double fault.”
Date25. May 2014 | 13:27
Ralf Dujmovits turns around at 8300 meters
Ralf Dujmovits has abandoned his summit attempt without bottled oxygen on the Tibetan side of Mount Everest. He called me from Camp 2 on 7700 meters and said he wanted to descend further down to the Advanced Base Camp at 6400 meters. More details later.
Date25. May 2014 | 9:59
The first climbers came from the south. On Friday evening local time, the Chinese Wang Jing and five Sherpas reached the summit of Mount Everest via the Nepalese normal route. However, I hesitate to call it a complete ascent. The team had been flown by helicopter to Camp 2 at 6400 meters after the “Ice doctors” had stopped to maintain the route through the Khumbu Icefall. After the avalanche disaster on 18 April – as reported – all commercial expeditions on the Nepalese side of the mountain had been cancelled.
Today the first summit successes were also reported from the Tibetan north side. A team of 15 climbers of the Russian expedition organizer “7SummitsClub” reached the highest point at 8850 meters during snowfall and wind. The German climber Ralf Dujmovits had to struggle with these difficult weather conditions too when he ascended from Camp 2 at 7700 meters to Camp 3 at 8300 meters.
Date24. May 2014 | 17:16
Ralf Dujmovits’ summit bid is on
The time has come. Ralf Dujmovits, Germany’s most successful high-altitude climber, has started his summit attempt on the Tibetan north side of Mount Everest. On Thursday, he climbed up to the North Col at 7000 meters, today to Camp 2 at 7700 meters. There – as reported previously – he had deposited a material bag. “The wind has blown strongly, I had trouble to pitch my tent”, says Ralf when he calls me by satellite phone from Camp 2. “But now the tent is ready, I have cooked and eaten.” The 52-year-old is targeting Sunday as summit day, the weather forecast so far promises for 25 May good conditions with relatively little wind.
On Saturday, Ralf wants to climb up to an altitude of about 8300 meters. He will leave his tent at Camp 2 and pitch at Camp 3 a mini tent that he had already used on Aconcagua at the end of 2013. The traffic on the normal route keeps within limits, reports Dujmovits. “Some climbers want to reach the highest point on 24 May. Thus the whole thing is equalized. On Sunday, 40 to 45 climbers might start to the summit. If you consider that the entire season is focusing on this weekend, these are quite a few. So far, I have not seen anyone who is climbing without oxygen, apart from me.” Everything is served. And Ralf seems to be optimistic: “I’m in good shape and make good progress.”
Update: A Hungarian blog user told me that his compatriot David Klein is also climbing without bottled oxygen and has already reached Camp 3.
Update II: According to a press release of the Nepalese tourism ministry the Chinese female climber Wang Jing and five Sherpas have summited Mount Everest from the south side of the mountain. As reported, the team had been flown by helicopter to Camp 2 and had started the ascent from there.
Date23. May 2014 | 21:10
The ridge between triumph and tragedy is narrow. On Sunday, Chhanda Gayen had scaled as first Indian woman Kangchenjunga, with 8586 meters the third highest mountain in the world. Four days later, she was confirmed dead because there is no more hope to recover her alive. When she was trying to climb also to the 8505-meter-high summit of Yalung Kang, also known as Kangchenjunga West, she and the Sherpas Dawa Wangchu (28.) and Migma Temba (24) were stuck by an avalanche, reports the “Himalayan Times” in Kathmandu. Due to bad weather, the search for the missing climbers has been abandoned .
Date22. May 2014 | 16:33
Never let it be said that climbing was not for romantics. The Italian couple Nives Meroi and Romano Benet prove the contrary. For them, it is out of the question to climb an eight-thousander without the partner. Last Saturday, Nives and Romano reached the 8586-meter-high summit of Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. As always together, as always without using bottled oxygen, as always in a clean style. “Our achievements are defined by a smooth alpine style: simple and genuine, we remain true to ourselves at all the times and in harmony with the mountains”, Nives once said. Kangchenjunga is the eight-thousander number twelve for Meroi and Benet. Now only Annapurna and Makalu are still missing in their collection.
Date20. May 2014 | 23:13
“It would have been a dream to take this beautiful route, but I do not dare to climb in this crumbly zone.” Ralf Dujmovits sounds a little bit disappointed when he calls me via satellite phone from the Advanced Base Camp (ABC) on the Tibetan north side of Mount Everest. Actually, the 52-year-old wanted to scale Everest via the route that Reinhold Messner had opened during his solo ascent in 1980: beneath the North Ridge, then through the upper part of the Norton Couloir, onto the summit plateau. The wind was the reason that he abandoned his plan, explains Ralf: “It is blowing for 14 days now. There is a rocky interruption in the upper section of the Norton Couloir, where it is the steepest. There is no snow, probably it is rather sandy.” Even the point where Messner had left the couloir is free of snow now. This challenge at an altitude of more than 8000 meters is too big for him, because he will be climbing alone and without bottled oxygen, says Ralf. “This is too difficult, too exciting. I’m getting older, I have not enough power for that.” Now he will try to climb to the summit on the normal route, “though it pains me”.
Date19. May 2014 | 23:41
Mount Everest is still awaiting the first ascent this spring. But summit successes are reported from other eight-thousanders. The Russian climber Denis Urubko sent a message that he reached the 8586-meter-high summit of Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain on earth, today at 9:40 a.m. local time. As Denis also his companions, the Polish climber Adam Bielecki, the Spaniard Alex Txikon and the Russians Artyom Brown and Dmitri Sinev, should have started the descent. Bielecki, Txikon and Sinev had previously made a summit bid but had returned from 8350 meters. Initially Urubko and Co. had wanted to open a new route through the North Face. Obviously, it was more of a variant of the British North Ridge route which Doug Scott, Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker had climbed in 1979.
Date19. May 2014 | 18:30
TagsCamandona, Huebschenberger, Kangchenjunga, Makalu, Mansikka, Soria, Stitzinger, Urubko, Von Melle
18 April has changed many things: on Mount Everest, in the lives of the families of the 16 avalanche victims – and also for Matthias Baumann. The 42-year-old trauma surgeon from the German town of Esslingen was the expedition doctor in the team of the Argentine twin brothers Damian and Willie (Guillermo) Benegas and actually wanted to climb Everest in his second attempt, on the Nepalese south side. In 2011, his first attempt on the Tibetan north side had failed at 8600 meters: When he wanted to change his oxygen bottle at the Second Step, the key point of the normal route, Matthias realized that his Sherpa had packed an empty instead of a full bottle.
Three years later, this spring, Baumann climbed through the Khumbu Icefall, on the day before the avalanche. “I knew that avalanches had been coming down from the West Shoulder of Everest for four or five years. Up there, the seracs are threatening”, Matthias told me. Even if the fun at climbing gained the upper hand, the respect remained. “I was always looking up to the seracs.” On the following day, the Khumbu Icefall became a death trap for 16 Nepalese climbers. With other physicians, the German doctor took care of the injured climbers who were brought down to the base camp. After the end of the expedition Matthias visited almost all the families of the Nepalese who had lost their lives – and launched a fundraiser for them.
Date15. May 2014 | 14:49
Is there still some climbing possible on the Nepalese side of Mount Everest? The “Himalayan Times” reported that the Chinese female climber Wang Jing was with seven Sherpas on the way to base camp. The 40-year-old wanted to climb the highest mountain on earth. Wang was already once on the summit of Everest, on 22 May 2010, becoming the first Chinese woman who climbed the mountain from the south side. In her home country she is a star. Wang has written a book about her mountaineering and is leading an outdoor outfitter in Beijing. Everest is part of her “Project 7+2”. She wants to scale the “Seven Summits”, the highest peaks of all continents, in record time and in addition reach the North and the South Pole.
Date11. May 2014 | 1:42
Waiting for the calm after the storm. Currently the wind is blowing strongly in the summit region of Mount Everest – with speeds up to 60 knots (about 110 km per hour). A summit attempt of one of the about ten teams on the Tibetan north side of the mountain is out of question. Not until 16 May a good weather window with low wind is expected. On the south side of Everest, according to the U.S. expedition leader Eric Simonsen, the “Icefall doctors” brought down their ladders and ropes from the Khumbu Icefall. Until next season, the material is deposited in a storage in Gorak Shep, the last permanently inhabited small village near Mount Everest at 5200 meters. Thus there will be definitely no climb to the 8850-meter-high summit from the Nepalese side this spring. This week in Kathmandu, the Japanese climber Ken Noguchi presented on behalf of his environmental protection organization “Seven Summits Actions for Sustainable Society” a donation of $ 100,000 to Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA).
Date9. May 2014 | 21:47
It is time to look to the north side of Mount Everest. After the early end of the spring season on the Nepalese south side because of the avalanche accident in the Khumbu Icefall with 16 dead, everything is proceeding on schedule on the Tibetan side of Everest. About 100 climbers have got a permit of the China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA) to climb on the north side of the highest mountain in the world. The members of an expedition from Malta have already climbed to Camp 2 on 7500 meters by mid-week. “We need to wait for our summit window”, expedition leader Greg Attard reported. “The team is performing very well. Everyone is exhausted but excited and in good health.”
Date4. May 2014 | 18:15