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with Stefan Nestler

Txikon’s last Everest summit attempt is on

Alex Txikon on Everest

It is a race against time. Another storm front is approaching Mount Everest. The meteorologists expect the small weather window with relatively favorable conditions in the summit region to remain open only until Wednesday and then close for a longer period of time. Therefore Alex Txikon, who wants to climb Everest in winter without bottled oxygen, has to push now. In two weeks, the meteorological winter will end. On Monday, the 35-year-old Basque and his five-man strong Sherpa team climbed up to Camp 2 at 6,400 meters. Today Txikon and the Sherpas Nuri, Gesman, Temba, Sanu and Pasang Nurbu want to reach the South Col at 7,950 meters. All Sherpas use supplemental oxygen. Three weeks ago, Txikon’s first summit attempt had failed on the South Col. “We hope to reach the summit on Wednesday ,” Alex said.

Two on the last stage

Climb light

Light and fast, this is Txikon’s tactics. He is climbing with a light backpack. On the first attempt, the team had deposited sleeping bags in Camp 2 and on the South Col. “Although I am no specialist in this modality, we are good connoisseurs of the route,” said Alex. He wants to climb to the highest point with Nuri, the other Sherpas are to wait on the South Col. However, Txikon warns against too high expectations: “ I recognize that the possibilities are very small because the weather does not help us.” While ascending to Camp 2, the wind was still strong. “There were times with speeds of up to 60 kilometers per hour, in which we could not even move forward,” Alex said.

Energy kick by Messner

Alex along with his idol Reinhold Messner (l.)

Just before his departure on Monday, Txikon had received an unexpected visit at the Base Camp: Everest legend Reinhold Messner came along. The 72-year-old has been staying in the Khumbu area for film recordings. In 1978, Messner – along  with Peter Habeler – had climbed Everest for the first time without breathing mask. In 1980 the South Tyrolean succeeded in doing the first solo climb of the highest mountain, again without the use of bottled oxygen. “The support he has given us is indescribable,” said Alex, “an energy kick from the hand of the greatest.”

I suppose he needed this encouragement. The eight-day interruption of the expedition had brought the Basque climber out of the rhythm. In addition, Txikon had returned with an almost completely new Sherpa team. Nuri Sherpa is the only member left from the original crew. The other Sherpas had stayed in Kathmandu to recover for the upcoming commercial spring season on Everest. It will start in a few weeks.

Date

7. March 2017 | 11:26

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