The next Sherpa coup in the Himalayas, again in Rolwaling Valley. After Nima Tenji Sherpa, Tashi Sherpa and Dawa Gyalje Sherpa – as reported – had first climbed three six-thousanders within three days at the beginning of October, Mingma Gyalje Sherpa now succeeded in doing an amazing solo ascent. The 29-year-old stated that he reached the 6685-meter-high summit of Chobutse (also called Tsoboje) climbing alone and for the first time through the West Face. He had two cold bivouacs in the wall causing frostbite at his leg. Chobutse was first climbed by the Germans Wolfgang Weinzierl, Peter Vogler, Gustav and Klaus Harder in spring 1972, via the Northeast Ridge. Several attempts to climb through the West Face had failed.
Date31. October 2015 | 21:36
TagsChobutse, Dreamers Destination, Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, Nepal, Rolwaling, Sherpa, solo ascent, Ueli Steck, West Face
That’s the way we humans do: No matter how short the straws are, we clutch at them. There is a small glitter of hope that Gerhard Fiegl is still alive. Since Monday, the Austrian climber has been missing at the 6839-meter-high Nilgiri South in the Annapurna massif in Nepal. Three days after his 27th birthday, the mountain guide from the Oetztal – as reported – fell several hundred meters deep while his two team mates were looking on in horror. Hansjoerg Auer and Alexander Bluemel descended to Base Camp and immediately called for a rescue operation. But snowfall and fog prevented helicopter flights. The search for Fiegl is to be continued. Even if the probability to find him alive is low and decreases as each day passes, we should not give up. Even on the highest mountains, now and again there are stories of survival that are almost miracles.
Date30. October 2015 | 17:12
Sad news from the Austrian expedition to the South Face of the 6839-meter-high Nilgiri South in the Annapurna massif in Nepal: A spokesman of the Austrian Foreign Office confirmed to me that one of the three climbers who had started their first summit attempt last Thursday was missing. According to him, the climber slipped during the descent and fell about 800 meters deep while his two team mates were looking on in horror. The two climbers descended to Base Camp. Fog and snowfall hampered the helicopter rescue operation. The search was going on, the spokesman said. He gave no details about the climber who fell into the depth adding that they were in touch with his relatives.
Date29. October 2015 | 12:09
You would not estimate that Peter Habeler has really 73 years under his belt. Slim, wiry, tanned – just one who is still climbing mountains. Along with friends, he is currently repeating many routes in the Alps that he climbed when he was young, the Austrian told me when I met him at a mountaineers’ event in Leverkusen near my hometown Cologne last weekend: “Thankfully, I feel physically very well. But it’s going round in circles: If you train and climb a lot, you’re just in better physical shape.” Even 37 years after Habeler climbed Mount Everest along with Reinhold Messner for the first time without bottled oxygen, the highest mountain on earth is always in his mind – of course also due to the fact that he as a pioneer is questioned on Everest again and again.
Date28. October 2015 | 17:12
Again, a mountainous region was hit. Yesterday, nearly half a year after the devastating earthquake in Nepal, which had killed closed to 9,000 people, the earth trembled in northern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. The number of registered deaths has been rising to nearly 400 so far and reportedly several thousand people were injured. As after the quake in Nepal, the rescue teams have not yet reached many remote mountain valleys in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Roads are blocked by landslides. Along the Karakoram Highway, the main connecting axis to the north, 45 landslides were recorded. Meanwhile more than half of the blocked places have been cleared up again. Landslides were also reported from the area around Skardu, the town that many climbers know because it is the starting point of most expeditions to the Karakoram.
Date27. October 2015 | 16:37
The push is on. The Austrian Team that tries to first climb the South Face of the 6839-meter-high Nilgiri South in the Annapurna massif in Nepal has set off for their first summit attempt. I was told this by a speaker of Hansjoerg Auer in Austria. On Wednesday Hansjoerg had tweeted that their acclimatization was coming to an end and that their first attempt was about to start. Auer is climbing along with his compatriots Alexander Bluemel and Gerhard Fiegl.
Date23. October 2015 | 14:50
200 meters as the crow flies away from my desk, nothing less than the future of the planet is negotiated. Until Friday representatives from around the world are debating at the World Conference Center Bonn on a new climate agreement. It is to be adopted at the global climate talks in Paris, which will begin in late November. Once again the negotiations are long and tough. The solidarity with the states that are already feeling the effects of climate change is within limits. In most cases economy beats ecology. But the clock is ticking. With only a few exceptions, glaciers are melting worldwide. Glacier Works, an organization founded by US mountaineer David Breashears in 2007, has impressively documented how far for instance the glaciers around Mount Everest have retreated during the past decades. Now the Dalai Lama has pointed to the consequences of climate change for his Tibetan homeland.
Date21. October 2015 | 14:42
TagsBonn, climate change, Dalai Lama, Everest, glacier melt, Glacier Works, Gobal climate talks, Himalayas, Paris, Tibet, Tibetan Plateau
The fall season in the Himalayas is not over yet. Although the expedition on Mount Everest as well as those on the eight-thousanders Makalu, Dhaulagiri and Annapurna were recently canceled due to dangerous conditions on the mountains, there are still a few climbers under way on the highest mountains. So the team of South Korean Sung Taek Hong, who wants to tackle the Lhotse South Face again, decided in favor of a later expedition start. And also Swiss climber Ueli Steck and American Colin Haley have just completed their acclimatization. They did it on separate ways. Steck climbed along with Tenji Sherpa through the North Face of the 6,640-meter-high Cholatse. “That was pretty cool. He is the first Sherpa who climbed this wall”, Ueli writes to me. “It’s nice to see how a ‘new’ generation of Sherpas is growing up, who are really interested in climbing and not just in business. I think that’s awesome!” Steck and Haley want to first repeat the extremely difficult route via the Southeast Pillar to the summit of the 7,804-meter-high Nuptse East which was opened in in 2003 – but contrary to the first climbers, the Russians Valerij Babanov and Yuri Kosholenko, in Alpine style. I sent Ueli three questions to Base Camp.
Date17. October 2015 | 13:32
At last! Many Western governments have now canceled their general travel warning for Nepal that they had imposed after the 25 April earthquake. Instead, they are now only warning not to travel to certain regions of the Himalayan state. So the German Foreign Office called the trekking regions Langtang and Manaslu problematic areas, where access “is not possible or only with considerable difficulties”. The British Foreign Office advises against traveling to these regions too and calls in addition the districts Sindhupalchowk and Dolakha. From the perspective of the German Government “particular caution is advised” when traveling in these or other areas that were hit hard by the quake. The US Department of State notes that “the frequency and severity of aftershocks have greatly diminished”, but encourages travelers “to consult carefully with their travel and trekking agencies for current, location-specific information and to heed warnings of potential danger”. All those governments point to a new problem in Nepal – a political one.
Date10. October 2015 | 23:35
TagsBlockade, Earthquake, Hope for Nepal, India, Indien, Michi Muenzberg, Nepal, Terai, Travel warning
The Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki has turned around again. The 33-year old abandoned his second summit attempt at 8,150 meters, about 200 meters above the South Col. „Deep snow and high winds“ stopped him, Kuriki tweeted. “I did my best. I’m really disappointed.” Indeed he sounded exhausted and frustrated talking via radio with his team.
Date8. October 2015 | 10:28
Anyone who has ever climbed with Sherpas knows: There are many powerful, really good climbers among them, who can make western climbers look quite old. It is no wonder that there have been Sherpas as team members in many first ascents of the world’s highest mountains in the Himalayas and the Karakoram – like Tenzing Norgay on Mount Everest in 1953, Pasang Dawa Lama on Cho Oyu in 1954 or Gyalzen Norbu on Manaslu in 1956. But always along with foreign mountaineers. That has now changed.
Date6. October 2015 | 16:22
TagsDawa Gyalje Sherpa, first ascent, Langdak Thakar-Go East, Nima Tenji Sherpa, Raungsiyar, Rolwaling, Tashi Sherpa
The Nepalese government has triggered a medial avalanche. A week ago, Tourism Minister Kripasur Sherpa mentioned the possibility of stricter rules on granting permits for Mount Everest. The government is considering age limits – from 18 to 75 years – and a reduction of permits for disabled climbers. “The disabled or visually impaired people usually need someone to carry them, which is not an adventure”, Sherpa said. “Only those who can go on their own will be given permission.” The American Erik Weihenmayer, in 2001 the first blind person ever to climb Mount Everest, is outraged. The statement is an overreaction that represents the biases, prejudices and superstition that are very prevalent in Nepal government, Erik writes on Facebook: “It’s a shame that the Minister of Tourism is using the tragedies of the last two years to scapegoat the tiny number of disabled climbers and enact a policy that won’t fix the problem. Frankly, being faced with additional challenges, disability, age, etc. forces a climber to be more prepared and make more cautious decisions.”
Date5. October 2015 | 15:31
TagsAndy Holzer, blind climber, Disabled climber, Erik Weihenmayer, Kripasur Sherpa, Mark Inglis, Mount Everest, Permit
It was a hot, but from the climbers’ perspective a meager summer in the Karakoram: Most expeditions left Pakistan without summit successes. The German “Huberbuam” Thomas and Alexander, the Swiss Dani Arnold and the Austrian Mario Walder also returned empty-handed, but alive and “in one piece” – which was not a matter of course considering their experiences at the Latok group. Thomas, aged 48, the elder of the Huber brothers, told me the story.
Thomas, this summer you actually wanted to tackle the North Face of the 7,145-meter-high Latok I which has not yet been climbed. This did not happen. Why?
We have seen the North Face only from afar. We realized pretty soon that is was impossible to climb the wall under these conditions. It would have been possible to tackle the North Ridge. But this did not happen too, because another mountain battered us so that we lost our motivation and courage to push ourselves to the absolute limit again.
Date2. October 2015 | 16:44
TagsAlexander Huber, Dani Arnold, Huberbuam, ice avalanche, Karakoram, Latok I, Latok III, Pakistan, Panmah Kangri, Thomas Huber
The success stories from the eighth highest mountain on earth are piling up. On Wednesday and Thursday at least 76 climbers reached the 8,156-meter-high summit of Manaslu, said the “Himalayan Times”. The Nepalese operator Seven Summits Treks reported about 50 summit successes of their clients and Sherpas alone. On Friday Dominik Mueller, head of the German expedition operator Amical Alpin, reached the highest point of Manaslu too.
Date2. October 2015 | 10:15
Next try. In these days, Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki will start his second summit attempt on Mount Everest. As reported before, his first try had failed last weekend, at about 7,700 meters, the level of the Geneva Spur, 200 meters below the South Col. Kuriki is the only climber who tries to scale Everest this fall, climbing alone without bottled oxygen. I have succeeded in contacting the 33-year-old at Everest Base Camp.
Nobukazu, what went wrong during your first summit attempt?
There was deeper snow than I expected, and it took too long to plow through it.
You decided to pitch your tent for your highest camp at about 7,700 meters instead of the usual South Col. Why?
Date1. October 2015 | 11:10