Happy New Year!
I wish you all a happy new year 2016, completely after your fancy, full of adventures in the mountains or elsewhere.
Date31. December 2015 | 16:24
TagsNew Year 2016
Date24. December 2015 | 13:19
For sure, it was an amazing highlight of alpinism, but a shadow falls across. At the end of October – as reported – the Austrians Hansjoerg Auer, Alexander Bluemel and Gerhard Fiegl first climbed the South Face of the 6,839-meter-high Nilgiri South in the Annapurna massif in Nepal. Five previous expeditions, top climbers from Japan, Czech Republic and Slovakia, had failed to climb the wall. However, the success of the Austrian trio turned into a tragedy: While descending, Gerry, manifestly suffering from high altitude sickness, fell to his death several hundred meters deep, three days after his 27th birthday – while his friends were looking on in horror. A few days later, the search for Fiegl was abandoned.
Hansjoerg Auer sustained frostbite on six toes. Meanwhile the feeling in his toes has returned and he can climb again, the 31-year-old tells me. Next spring, he wants to set off along with his compatriot David Lama to a “cool, very difficult destination”. He doesn’t yet reveal, where it will be. I’ve talked to Hansjoerg about what happened in late October.
Hansjörg, you succeeded in making the amazing first ascent of the South Face of Nilgiri South. But on the descent your teammate Gerry Fiegl fell to his death. Does this tragic end make everything else fade into the backround?
Date23. December 2015 | 14:27
TagsAccident, Alexander Bluemel, Gerry Fiegl, Hansjoerg Auer, High altitude sickeness, Nilgiri South, South face, Southwest Ridge
“I am not in the government to wait and see”, Ananda Prasad Pokharel said in early November after his appointment as the new Nepalese Tourism Minister. “I am here to change.” However, one of his first initiatives concerning mountain tourism doesn’t testify his farsightedness but looks more like a crazy idea. Pokharel’s ministry plans to reduce the insurances for Nepalese staff on expeditions – by up to 60 percent on mountains that are lower than 6,500 meters. Thus mountain tourism should be stimulated again, it said. The visitor numbers in Nepal had slumped dramatically after the devastating earthquake in April and also because of the still existing blockade of the border with India.
Even many Nepalis shake their heads about the government’s plan. “As an owner of the agency Dreamers Destination Trek, I prefer reduction in every kind of insurance. It is good for my company and it is good for my clients”, Mingma Gyalje Sherpa writes to me. “But being myself a climber and born in a climber’s family, I wish an increment of insurances in favor of climbers.”
Date19. December 2015 | 23:07
TagsAnanda Prasad Pokharel, Chobutse, Insurance, Mingam Gyalje Sherpa, Nepal, Nepalese Tourism Ministry, Permits
It’s a king-size pearl. As big as a football, artfully forged from metal, gleaming like silver. Yesterday the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) for the first time handed over the „Sport Media Pearl Awards“ during a ceremony in Abu Dhabi. According to AIPS it was the first global competition for sport journalists to appreciate the work of the „best sport storytellers“, because „without the story sport would be just a game“. These are the figures: 724 entries were submitted, in 29 languages, from 86 countries across five continents, in nine categories. One of them was „Journalistic Weblog“. I tried my luck – and, unbelievable but true, „Abenteuer Sport“ (Adventure Sports) was awarded to be the best blog.
I had only half a minute time to express my joy to the audience of the ceremony. Not so easy when your heart is beating like a drum. First of all I thanked my family who let me go on expeditions, despite all their fears. But I also dedicated this award to you – „the climbers from all over the world who live their passion and to the mountain people who must work so hard, especially my friends from Nepal who have to go through a real difficult time“. You all are my journalistic expedition team, thank you! I mean, this award is a little bit like a first ascent, isn’t it? 😉
There are no mountains in Abu Dhabi, only „mountain buildings“. Here are some impressions:
Date16. December 2015 | 20:09
It is no more than a coincidence, but a suitable one. This year the “International Mountain Day”, which, since 2002, is observed every year on 11 December, coincides exactly with the final day of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris – that will end tomorrow hopefully with an agreement on climate protection which is more than just hot air. Mountains are considered as early warning systems for climate change (see the video below). Everyone who is often in the mountains would have to be blind not to perceive the changes. Glaciers are melting almost everywhere at record speed. For instance, more than two dozen mountains in Asia, Africa and South America, which are located near the equator and were once glaciated, will probably be completely ice-free within the next two to three decades. Permafrost in the mountains is in retreat too: soils that were permanently frozen before are thawing. Increased rockfall, more frequent landslides or mudslides are the result – not only in the Himalayas.
Date10. December 2015 | 17:20
“Never open your mouth, unless you’re in the dentist’s chair.” These were the words Salvatore Gravano called “Sammy the Bull”, a mafioso from New York, used to describe the “Omerta”: the unwritten law of the underworld to be silent no matter what happens. Even athletes using doping substances usually say nothing unless they are found to be guilty. In this respect, mountaineering is not an “island of bliss”. Anyone who has ever been on expedition has probably met some climbers who carelessly use medicine that actually should be used in case of emergency – or even performance enhancers. Just nobody of these climbers admits to do so. Luanne Freer is the “Everest doctor”. For twelve years, she has treated climbers in “Everest ER”, the emergency room at the Base Camp on the Nepalese side of the highest mountain on earth. I asked the 57-year-old about her experiences on the topic of doping on Mount Everest.
Luanne, in 2003 you founded “Everest ER”, the highest infirmary in the world. Since then, you have spent many climbing seasons in Base Camp. How widespread is doping among Everest aspirants?
Date9. December 2015 | 17:10
What are Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell actually doing this winter? Perhaps the two Hollywood stars are traveling to Pakistan to shoot a remake of their blockbuster “Groundhog Day” that is set in the world of high altitude climbers. After all, the same match on Nanga Parbat is repeated year after year: Several expeditions arrive at the different base camps to climb the “Naked Mountain” for the first time in winter. And again and again they return home exhausted and empty-handed two months later. 27 expeditions ended this way. This winter, another five teams will tackle the 8,125-meter-high mountain, which is – apart from K 2 – the only eight-thousander which has never been climbed in the cold season. Two of the current climbing teams have the Murray/MacDowell pattern – even if the name of one of these expeditions sounds more like a Disney movie.
Date5. December 2015 | 14:00
TagsAdam Bielecki, Alex Txikon, Ali Sadpara, Arslan Ahmed Ansari, Daniele Nardi, Elisabeth Revol, Jacek Czech, Janusz Golab, Nanga Parbat, Simone Moro, Tamara Lunger, Tomek Mackiewicz, winter ascent
It’s five to twelve, maybe later. Time is running out to tackle man-made climate change. The impacts of global warming can be observed also in the Himalayas, gpt instance in Nepal. “Largely because of climate change and the recent impacts of the earthquake and aftershocks, Nepal has entered an era of accelerated catastrophic events that will impact the country’s population, their lives and livelihoods for several years to come”, US and local scientists said after having researched the greatest and most dangerous glacial lakes in Nepal after the devastating 25 April earthquake.
In these days, delegates from all over the world are debating a new climate change agreement in Paris. On this occasion, I called Dawa Steven Sherpa in Kathmandu. Along with his father Ang Tshering Sherpa, the president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA), the 31-year-old is managing the expedition operator “Asian Trekking”. Dawa Steven scaled Everest twice (in 2007 and 2008) and in addition the eight-thousanders Cho Oyu (2006) and Lhotse (2009). For years he has been engaging for environmental and climate protection. He is a climate change ambassador for WWF.
Date3. December 2015 | 12:30
TagsBlockade, climate change, Climate summit Paris, Cop21 Paris, Dawa Steven Sherpa, Earthquake, Mount Everest, Nepal
Once again his dream to climb Lhotse South Face was gone with the wind. As in 2014, Sung Taek Hong returns empty-handed from the mighty wall of the fourth highest mountain on earth to South Korea. After two months on the mountain, Sung and his team packed up. They aborted their last summit attempt at Camp 1. Sung tried to climb further up but it was impossible due to storm gusts of up to 150 kilometers per hour. Some gear was blown out of the wall. One of the Sherpa climbers was hit und hurt by a falling rock.
Date3. December 2015 | 10:18
Real adventurers should be young? Fiddlesticks! The Briton Mick Fowler and his long-time climbing partner and compatriot Paul Ramsden prove that you can do extremely ambitious climbs in the Himalayas even if you are older than 50. Mick is going to celebrate his 60th (!) anniversary next year – unbelievable! Many young climbers would turn green with envy comparing their efforts with Mick’s and Paul’s achievements in recent years. Again and again they succeed in first climbing amazing routes on six-thousanders in Nepal, India, China or elsewhere. They were already awarded the Piolet d’Or, the “Oscar for climbers”, twice: in 2003, for their new route through the North Face of the 6250-meter-high Siguniang in western China and in 2013, for their first climb of the Northeast Ridge of the 6142-meter-high Shiva in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. And they have a good chance to win the Golden Ice Axe for the third time – for their latest expedition. This October, Mick and Paul completed the first ascent of Gave Ding, a six-thousander located in a very remote valley in far west Nepal.
Mick, year after year you and your climbing partner Paul Ramsden discover ambitious new mountains or routes, tackle them and succeed. What is your secret of success?
Lots of hard research, a good partnership and a shared approach of not retreating unless there is a very good reason to do so.
Date2. December 2015 | 9:26