If there really is such a thing as a “Golden Year” of climbing in the Alps, it was 1865: More than sixty important first ascents were made on the highest mountains of France, Switzerland and Austria. The most spectacular was certainly that of the Matterhorn on 14 July. But Jungfrau, Wetterhorn, Breithorn, Ortler and Piz Buin were also first climbed in 1865 – and the Aiguille Verte, today exactly 150 years ago. On 29 June 1865, just after 10 a.m., the Briton Edward Whymper, the Swiss mountain guide Christian Almer from Grindelwald and his colleague Franz Biner from Zermatt reached the 4122-meter-high summit in the Mont Blanc range. The first ascent of the “Green Needle” was one of the most coveted alpine goals of those days.
Date29. June 2015 | 14:55
TagsAiguille Verte, Chamonix, Christian Almer, Edward Whymper, first ascent, Franz Biner, Michel Croz
The eternal attraction of Latok I. There is hardly another seven-thousander that has been such a hard nut to crack for top climbers from all over the world for the past decades. The first ascent of the highest of the four Latok summits was made 36 years ago. The Japanese Tsuneo Shigehiro, Sin’e Matsumi and Yu Watanabe succeeded on 19 July 1979. They had climbed up from the south via a buttress to the east East Ridge and from there to the highest point. More famous because notorious are the still unconquered North Ridge – and the also unclimbed North Face. This summer, the “Huberbuam”, the German brothers Alexander and Thomas Huber, will try to master this big wall.
Date24. June 2015 | 10:56
TagsAlexander Huber, Dani Arnold, Huberbuam, Karakoram, Latok I North Face, Mario Walder, Thomas Huber
It looked as if the magician David Copperfield had staged one of his grand illusions. “The school was much smaller than I remembered it”, Ralf Dujmovits tells me. “First I didn’t even realize that the ground floor had just slumped down. The upper parts of the building were still standing. Only when I got loser, I saw the extent of damage. That really brought tears to my eyes.” Germany’s most successful high altitude climber visited the “Gerlinde and Ralf School” in Thulosirubari one and a half weeks after the devastating earthquake in Nepal. Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Ralf Dujmovits had given financial support to the project of the German aid organization “Nepalhilfe Beilngries” and thus had made it possible that the school had been opened in 2009. “If you suddenly realize that the building has to be demolished, you just begin to cry”, says Ralf. You all can help to rebuild the school by supporting the campaign “School up!”.
Date22. June 2015 | 11:33
TagsEarthquake, Gerlinde and Ralf School, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, Nepal, Nepalhilfe Beilngries, Ralf Dujmovits, School up!, Sindhupalchowk, Thulosirubari
“That was far below my limit”, says the Slovenian Luka Lindic when I ask him about the first climbing of the North Face of the 6515-meter-high Hagshu in the Indian Himalayas. After all, Luka and his two Slovenian friends Marko Prezelj and Ales Cesen have been awarded for this climb with this year’s Piolet d’Or, the “Oscar for climbers”. “Sometimes you find such a logical line. It’s normal to follow it. We didn’t find any extreme difficult terrain”, Luka remembers. Looking for his personal limits, the 27-year-old climber will travel to the North of Pakistan this summer. In early July, Luka will set off to the Karakoram, together with his compatriots Luka Krajnc, Martin Zumer and Janez Svoljsak. “We will stay on Choktoi glacier for a month. And if the conditions will allow it and if we feel good, we would like to try Latok I.”
Date18. June 2015 | 22:29
When can you call it normality again after a state of emergency? Obviously it depends on the way of perception. “Nepal is safe, don’t worry! This is our clear message for today”, said Bhesh Narayan Dahal, head of the governmental department that is responsible for the preservation of the world heritage sites of Nepal, at the beginning of the week. Temples in Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, which had been badly damaged by the earthquake on 25 April, were re-opened with a ceremony. But even the government seems to feel uneasy about it.
Date17. June 2015 | 15:39
He has just stayed there – to help. When the devastating earthquake hit Nepal on 25 April, the Canadian climber Don Bowie was in Base Camp at the foot of Annapurna. For ten years, Don is climbing on eight-thousanders. By now he has scaled three of them, all without supplementary oxygen: K 2 (in 2007), Gasherbrum I (2010) and Cho Oyu (2011). After the tremors, the 46-year-old decided spontaneously to cancel the expedition and to use his skills as high altitude climber and mountain rescuer to help the earthquake victims in remote villages of Nepal. Since then Don is almost non-stop on the road in the mountains of the Himalayan state. On the Internet, he is asking for donations to finance his relief campaign. I contacted Don Bowie in Nepal.
Don, where are you staying right now?
I am based out of Kathmandu but I am now working in many districts – Gorkha, Nuwakot, Rasuwa, Sindhulpachowk, Dhading, and Dolakha.
Date14. June 2015 | 10:00
Tommy Caldwell is on a roll. The 36-year-old American and his compatriot Alex Honnold won this year’s Piolet d’Or, the “Oscar for climbers”, for their success in completing the so called “Fitz Traverse” in Patagonia, a more than five kilometers long climbing route over seven summits and some razor sharp ridges. And Tommy is a prime candidate for next year’s award too. Last January he and Kevin Jorgeson free-climbed for the first time the extremely difficult about 900-meter-high route Dawn Wall on El Capitan in Yosemite – a real milestone in big wall climbing. I talked to Tommy about both climbs.
Tommy, you and Alex Honnold were awarded the Piolet d’Or for succeeding the Fitz Traverse in Patagonia. How did you experience this outstanding climb?
Date12. June 2015 | 15:30
They are on the way. The two top climbers Ueli Steck from Switzerland and Michi Wohlleben from Germany have now scaled the first of the 82 four-thousanders of the Alps, the 4,048-meter-high Piz Bernina in Switzerland. At 10 a.m. they reached the summit, after they had spent the night at the Tschierva Hut at 2,573 meters above sea level. Within just 80 days, the 38-year-old Ueli and the 24-year-old Michi want to climb all four-thousanders of the Alps, which are located in Switzerland, Italy and France – if possible, not on the normal but on more demanding routes.
Date11. June 2015 | 14:36
There is considerable indignation. Since British media reported that the Nepalese government put an income tax of 15 to 30 per cent on relief goods for earthquake victims, the authorities in Kathmandu are subjected to sharp criticism in the social networks. The guideline that tents and tarpaulin were custom free had expired on 3 June. A week ago, government officials had announced that relief goods could be still imported without paying taxes, but only if they would then be distributed by governmental organizations. “An organization which wants to distribute imported goods itself has to pay full customs duty”, said Surya Sedai of the Department of Customs. “This is to minimize the risk of smuggling.” Some international organizations already complained about harassment. On the internet, votes are collected for a petition to Nepal’s Prime Minister Sushil Koirala to “stop levying taxes on materials imported to aid sufferers of the Nepalese earthquakes”. I talked about the topic with German aid organizations.
Date10. June 2015 | 17:03
TagsAWO International, Customs, Earthquake, European Parliament, Nepal, Relief supplies, World Vision
Trailer of “Everest” with donation appeal
Good mountaineering movies are few and far between. They often snatch effects, are unrealistic or just cheesy. Let’s see if the film “Everest” will be a laudable exception. Now the first official trailer of the movie has been released (see below). Laudably, the Universal Studios and the film crew appeal for donations to the earthquake victims in Nepal in the closing credits of the trailer. There is no such appeal in the German version – a pity! The movie “Everest” will start in the cinemas in September. It tells the story of the Everest accident in 1996, when eight members of commercial expeditions died in a storm in the summit area. Jon Krakauer’s book “Into Thin Air” about the events on 10 and 11 May 1996, was an international bestseller and triggered a discussion about commercial climbing on Everest. There are many Hollywood stars in the new Everest film.
From Gyllenhall to Knightley
Jake Gyllenhaal (known i.a. from the movie “Brokeback Mountain”) plays US mountain guide Scott Fischer, who died in the storm as well as New Zealand guide Rob Hall, who is portrayed in the film by Jason Clarke (“The Great Gatsby”). Josh Brolin (“True Grit”) plays the US client Beck Weathers, who miraculously survived the storm night outdoors but suffered from severe frostbite. There are also top actresses for the female roles. Robin Wright (“Forrest Gump”) plays Weathers’ wife Peach. Keira Knightley (“Pirates of the Caribbean”) takes on the role of Rob Hall’s pregnant wife Jan who was speaking via satellite phone with her dying man on Everest.
Riegler brothers as doubles
The mountain scenes were filmed earlier this year in Val Senales in South Tyrol. The shooting lasted five weeks. The “Everest Base Camp” of the film was on the glacier Hochjochferner, 3000 meters high. “For other shootings the stars are picked up by limousines. Here they went by glacier lifts or snowcats”, said producer Nicky Kentish Barnes. “The stars fought bravely.” But they had not to become extreme mountaineers. Eleven climbers had been engaged to double the actors in snow and ice, including the two South Tyrolean extreme climbing brothers Florian and Martin Riegler. They were not allowed to say which actors they doubled. The climbing brothers already had movie experience. In 2012 they played in the film “Messner”: Martin, born in 1980, took on the role of Reinhold Messner, the two years younger Florian played Guenter Messner, who lost his life on Nanga Parbat in 1970.
Date5. June 2015 | 17:21
TagsBrolin, Clarke, Florian Riegler, Gyllenhall, Knightley, Martin Riegler, Mount Everest, Movie Everest, Val Senales, Wright
“Come back! So that Nepal can make a comeback.” So you could overwrite the appeals of those who are living from tourism in Nepal or have to do with it. The trekking and expedition operators from abroad send a signal that they want to realize most of their trips that they had planned for the post-monsoon season before the earthquake hit the country on 25 April. “The devastating earthquake has shaken the life in Nepal, but slowly life is returning to normality”, Dominik Mueller, head of German operator Amical alpin, wrote.
Date3. June 2015 | 19:25
TagsAlpenglow, Amical Alpin, Annapurna, DAV Summit Club, Everest, Himalayan Experience, Makalu, Manaslu, Nepal