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with Stefan Nestler

Exciting attempt on Cerro Kishtwar

The West Face of Cerro Kishtwar (© Stefan Schlumpf)

They have been on the road for the last three weeks and are expected to have meanwhile arrived at the destination of their expedition. The Swiss climbers Stephan Siegrist and Julian Zanker and the German Thomas Huber want to tackle the still not mastered West Face of the 6155-meter-high Cerro Kishtwar. The mountain, located in the Indian part of the crisis region Kashmir, has been scaled only three times so far. In 1993, the British Mick Fowler and the American Steve Susted succeeded the first ascent via the Northwest Face. In 2011, Siegrist, his Swiss countryman Denis Burdet and the Austrian David Lama reached the summit of Cerro Kishtwar as the second rope team, after opening a new route on the edge of the West Face. The third ascent was made in 2015 by the Slovenes Marko Prezelj and Urban Novak, the American Hayden Kennedy and the Frenchman Manu Pellisier. They were awarded the Piolet d’Or, the “Oscar of the Climbers”, for their first ascend of the South Face.

Date

27. September 2017 | 16:33

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Soria abandons Dhaulagiri expedition, summit successes on Manaslu

Carlos Soria on Dhaulagiri

The probably fittest of all seniors among the high altitude climbers must still wait for his 13th eight-thousander. Because of too much snow on the mountain Carlos Soria declared his expedition on the 8,167-meter-high Dhaulagiri for finished. During the ascent of the 78-year-old Spaniard and his companions to Camp 1, some avalanches had swept down not far away from the climbers, Carlos indicated on Facebook, adding that the high risk of avalanches would continue in the upper parts of the mountain. Moreover, the fixed ropes which they had laid before had been buried by fresh snow. “Because of all these adversities, we have no choice but to abandon our Dhaulagiri expedition for this season,” said Soria. A first summit attempt had failed one and a half weeks ago at an altitude of about 7,800 meters, because Carlos and Co. had missed the right route while the fog had become stronger.

Date

26. September 2017 | 18:41

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Picture journey “School up! River down!”

My tired legs still remind me of the 1494 kilometers which I have ridden with my folding bike in twelve days from the source of the Rhine near the Oberalp Pass in Switzerland to the mouth of the river into the North Sea near Hoek van Holland – in order to collect donations for our campaign “School up!” to rebuild the school in the Nepali mountain village of Thulosirubari. A heartfelt thanks to all who – inspired by my tour – donated for the project or will do it in the next few days (see the bank account below). Here again a small picture journey down the Rhine:

Recipient: Nepalhilfe Beilngries e.V.
Bank: Volksbank Bayern Mitte eG/Germany
IBAN: DE05 7216 0818 0004 6227 07
BIC/SWIFT-Code: GENODEF1INP
Intended purpose: Gerlinde and Ralf School

Date

24. September 2017 | 15:50

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“School up! River down!” successfully finished

Having reached the destination, the mouth of the Rhine

My summit was the end of the pier. Where a red tower with beacon signals to the ships on the North Sea that they have reached the mouth of the Rhine and that the port of Rotterdam is near. I reached this point with my folding bike today at 3.30 p.m., the twelfth day after my departure at the Oberalp Pass in Switzerland, near the source of the Rhine. 1,494 kilometers lie behind me, on average I cycled about 125 kilometers per day. The last meters on the pier felt great. All hardships were forgotten. I simply enjoyed to move slowly towards the goal of my donation bike tour “School up! River down!”.

Date

22. September 2017 | 22:08

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Through the water labyrinth

Near Wijk the river is still called “Nederrijn”

I’m just driving down the Rhine. No way! The closer you get to the mouth of the river into the North Sea, the more complicated it becomes. Everywhere are river arms and somehow they all have to do with the Rhine, but they are no longer called so. But Waal, Maas, Merwede or Linge. With additions such as “Oude” (Old), “Nieuwe” (New), “Beneden” (Lower) or “Boven” (Upper). And then there are also canals, such as the Amsterdam-Rijn-Kanaal, which I crossed today at Rijswijk. So you can easily lose orientation. The time has passed when I was cycling along the Rhine and only had to decide which side of the river I used.

Date

22. September 2017 | 0:03

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Bike land Netherlands

Bikers in Arnheim

It was like someone had flipped a switch. As soon as I had crossed the German-Dutch border behind Emmerich on the right side of the Rhine, I felt like I was in a different bicycle world. It all started with the fact that many more people were cycling. Seniors with e-bikes, housewives, with their market purchases on the luggage carrier, opposing the wind, large groups of bycyle racers, parents and their children, all with bikes. After my departure in the morning in Rheinberg-Ossenberg north of Duisburg, I had hardly met any cyclists on the bike paths on the dykes. This time the weather was not an excuse. It was misty until noon, but dry. And the wind blew only moderately.

Date

20. September 2017 | 23:57

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Not on the doping list

Still relatively fit behind Leverkusen

I had to think of Marcel Wüst today. “Do you really believe that after a difficult mountain stage of the Tour de France, we could be back on the next day as if nothing had happened?”, asked me the former German road bicycle racer at the end of the 1990s. “Actually, we urgently need a rest day. But we do not get that. So we have to help ourselves, according to the motto: Permitted is what is not on the doping list.” Today I felt like after a mountain stage. Yesterday’s ride with 186 kilometers was still working hard in me. My legs were heavy, I tortured myself with my folding bike further down the Rhine.

Date

19. September 2017 | 23:17

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Flow at the river

Between Bingen and Koblenz

Is there a better flow than one that you experience at a river? After this day I can hardly imagine it. Everything fitted together. The weather remained dry until the late afternoon, the cycle paths from Bingen via Koblenz into the direction of Cologne were in good condition, and my little folding bike almost wheeled by itself. On top of that I had an ideal travel companion with Kai from Cologne, who I first met shortly after Bingen.

Date

18. September 2017 | 22:30

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Resisted

Via the vineyard

The temptation was waiting at kilometer 90, just behind the village of Nierstein near the town of Mainz. Once again I was on a diversion (this time, for a change, exemplary signposted) and had driven for a while through vineyards. In the villages I had seen a lot of people sitting comfortably in “Strausses”  drinking new wine and eating onion tart. The sun was shining and I thought: If I would not try to ride as many kilometers as possible for “School up! River down!”, I would now for sure take the time to set in. I remained hard and continued cycling with my folding bike. Behind Nierstein, below the “Red Slope” – named after its clay sandstone ground and known for its excellent Riesling wines – about 30 people blocked the bike path.

Date

17. September 2017 | 22:16

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Three weddings and exhaustion

Departure in morning fog

I will sleep well, no matter how loud it is. “I have to warn you,” said the hotel staff at the front desk. “We have three wedding parties today, and music might be played until 6 a.m.” The hotel in the village of Altrip, located on the so-called “Blue Lagoon” about 15 kilometers from the gates of Ludwigshafen, specializes in the align of weddings. On the other hand, it also offers a special discount for bike tourists. Exemplary! And so I stood around 6 p.m. in my bike pants in the hotel lobby, a few meters away from me one of the three brides – and many guests who were dressed up. “Don’t worry,” I answered to the receptionist. “I’m all run down, I’ll sleep like a stone.”

Date

16. September 2017 | 23:00

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Together, cycling is easier

Not so alone as it looks like

It was the day of encounters. At first I cycled – for a change, in sunshine – along with a Swiss from the town of Zug, in his mid-60s, tanned, on a mountain bike that had already seen better days. “I’ve stopped working after 45 years,” the cyclist told me. “And now I am fulfilling my life dream. I always wanted to make a long bike trip.” I asked him how much time he took for the ride along the Rhine. “I’ll see how far I get until winter,” he said, grinning. In the further conversation it turned out that he was also a passionate mountaineer. He had climbed all four-thousanders of his home country, said the Swiss: “Actually, I had always dreamed of climbing Mount Everest one day. But tourism on this mountain has nothing to do with the way of climbing that I like.”

Date

16. September 2017 | 0:19

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Continuous rain and tailwind

Basel in rain

The man was so wrong. “This is passing by and it will be raining in the Black Forest,” the hotelier said in the morning in Laufenburg when I drew his attention to the threatening black clouds in the sky. His weather forecast stood up to reality about ten kilometers riding with my bike, exactly to Bad Säckingen. There it began to rain and did not stop until the early afternoon. The way to Bad Säckingen, I had heavy headwinds, even squalls, which had torn branches from trees and made garbage bags drifting across the street. At the same time, I even wondered if I was cycling in the right direction: the storm caused waves on the Rhine against the direction of flow. Well, I thought, if now in addition rain comes along, the weather inferno is complete.

Date

14. September 2017 | 21:59

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Damned wind

At the Rhine Falls

I am exhausted. What a day! I feel I have fought constantly. Against the heavy legs, my weaker self, against some, thank God, only short rain showers – and especially against the headwind. It has made me almost see red. It began already shortly after the start in the town of Kreuzlingen, when I rode along the so-called Untersee, the lower part of Lake Constance, before it flows into the River Rhine again. I was happy that the announced rain showers first stayed away, but the wind blew straight in my face. And this in addition to the fact that I really felt the first two stages of my donation bike tour “School up! River down!” with a total of 226 kilometers within two days in my calves.

Date

13. September 2017 | 22:39

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Kisses from heaven

Nice bike path, less nice weather

I know every rain is a kiss from heaven. But there are days when you do not want to be kissed, at least not from above. Unfortunately no one asks. This morning in Bad Ragaz, I had to pack my tent already wet. I started to ride in rainwear. After all, the involuntary shower ended after half an hour. I cycled down the Rhine with my folding bike for a long time on the dike top of the right side of the river. So I made flying visits in two other countries, first Liechtenstein, then Austria. Again and again some drops fell, but I could not bring myself to put on the rainwear again.

Date

12. September 2017 | 23:08

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One night in Heidiland

My place to sleep

I pitched my tent in Heidiland. This is how Bad Ragaz baptized their website. At the end of the 19th century, Johanna Spyri wrote in this small town on the Rhine her famous Heidi novels about the orphan who grew up with her grandfather, the “Almöhi”, living in the mountains. Spyri’s novels, with their slightly romanticized view of the life in the mountains, became one of the great Swiss export hits. Theoretically, Heidi could have had a folding bike. The first patent was issued in 1878, two years before the first Heidi novel was published. The original version, however, had little in common with my folding bike, which I used today on the first stage of “School up! River down”. Mine has 20-inch wheels, an eight-speed derailleur and weighs about 14 kilograms. I have to pat it on the saddle, today it has stood the test.

Date

11. September 2017 | 21:29

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