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with Stefan Nestler

Before Kibo expedition: Into artificial altitude

Hypoxia training at home for Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro is calling. In three weeks I will set off for the highest mountain in Africa. Of course I want to reach the summit at 5,895 meters. But that’s not the only reason for the “Kilimanjaro Summit Challenge”. The other 23 expedition members and I will also participate in a research project of the Philipps University Marburg on altitude sickness. The doctors who will accompany us will take blood samples and examine us daily. Also psychological tests are planned. The risk of suffering from high altitude sickness on Mount Kilimanjaro is quite high. Finally, the summit aspirants overcome an altitude difference of more than 4,000 meters in just a few days. About 70 percent of the Kibo tourists say they suffered from symptoms of acute altitude sickness.

Breathing thin air at home

Immediately after training: oxygen saturation 87 percent, five minutes later 98 percent again

I live in Cologne at about 50 meters above sea level, the Alps are about 600 kilometers away. So I miss the opportunity to just climb a mountain and breathe thin air. Even before my previous expeditions, I had good experiences with hypoxia training, back then in special gyms. Now there is a generator in my home, which I can specifically use to filter out a part of the oxygen from the air. Through a mask I inhale the oxygen-poor air thus simulating a higher altitude. So I am not only able to breathe thin air during training and at rest, but even sleep in a special small tent in “high altitude”.

Thomas Huber, Jost Kobusch …

Date

28. January 2018 | 0:06

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Rescue operation on Nanga Parbat

Elisabeth Revol and Tomek Mackiewicz

It’s a race against time. A rescue team of climbers from the Polish K2 winter expedition is trying to rescue the Frenchwoman Elisabeth Revol and the Pole Tomek Mackiewicz, who have fallen into difficulties during their summit bid on Nanga Parbat. According to the information available, the 43-year-old Tomek – suffering from snowblindness and frostbite – is staying in a tent at about 7200 meters. “I keep descending, please helicopter tomorrow,” wrote Elisabeth Revol in a text message from her satellite phone. The 37-year-old is said to be somewhere between 6200 and 6400 meters.

Date

27. January 2018 | 19:33

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Elizabeth Hawley is dead

Miss Hawley in her home in Kathmandu (in 2016)

The legendary chronicler of Himalayan moutaineering has passed away. I am very saddened to announce that after a short battle in hospital, Elizabeth Hawley has left us”, the German journalist and climber Billi Bierling informed. Personally, I cannot put it into words how much this amazing woman has meant to me, how much she has taught me and how much I will miss her in my life.” Elizabeth Hawley was 94 years old when she died. Two years ago, she had handed over the work on her chronicle “Himalayan Database” to Billi.

Date

26. January 2018 | 11:55

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No news yet from Nanga Parbat

Tomek Mackiewicz

The internet is to blame. Today we are used to following expeditions on the highest mountains and in the remotest regions of the world almost in real time via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or blogs. Our perception has changed as well: Much faster than before, we assume something must have happened if we do not hear anything for longer than expected. So what’s up with Tomek Mackiewicz and Elisabeth Revol, who wanted to reach the summit of Nanga Parbat this Thursday? The answer is simple: We do not know yet.

Date

26. January 2018 | 0:59

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Nanga Parbat summit bid on Thursday

Tomek Mackiewicz on Nanga Parbat

Ready, go! “We are at 7,300 (meters). Terrible fight,” Tomek Mackiewicz is quoted on his Facebook page in telegram style. “If weather permits, tomorrow summit.” If not now, when?, we could add. On Thursday, by far the lowest wind speeds this week are expected for the 8,125 meter summit of Nanga Parbat: 20 to 25 km/h. In addition a few clouds and temperatures of minus 42 degrees Celsius. Thereafter, the wind is to refresh again and reach storm strength at the weekend.

Date

24. January 2018 | 16:40

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Two weeks on a quasi-7000er

Ralf Dujmovits (l.) and Nancy Hansen in the still empty DLR living area

This seven-thousander has neither a summit, nor does it offer impressive views. It covers an area of ​​only around 110 square meters – and is located on the grounds of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne. A hypoxia chamber within DLR’s medical research lab “:envihab” – the name stands for environment and habitat – will be comfortably furnished in the coming months.

Four weeks in the chamber

In mid-May, Ralf Dujmovits, the only German mountaineer who has climbed all 14 eight-thousanders, and his partner, the Canadian climber Nancy Hansen, will move in there for four weeks. They are taking part in a highly interesting hypoxia study conducted by DLR in cooperation with the University of Texas. The assumption: Although extreme oxygen deficiency threatens life, there could also be a positive effect on the body.

Date

23. January 2018 | 16:02

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Decision on Nanga Parbat postponed, Urubko in Camp 2 on K2

Tomek Mackiewicz on Nanga Parbat

Do you already have aching muscles from keeping fingers crossed? Your pain could become even stronger. Because the summit bid of the Pole Tomek Mackiewicz and the Frenchwoman Elisabeth Revol that was expected already for Sunday is delayed. “We are in Camp 3, (it’s) windy (with speeds of)  about 100 km/h,” Tomek is quoted today on his Facebook page. “Tomorrow Camp 4, summit push (on) 25 January. Good weather (is expected for) that day.” In fact, the weather forecast for the summit at 8,125 meters predicts for Thursday the lowest wind speeds this week: between 15 and 25 km/h. Assuming this forecast is correct, it will be almost calm, however with minus 42 degrees Celsius quite cold, some clouds are expected. Mackiewicz and Revol climb without bottled oxygen.

Date

22. January 2018 | 14:53

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Summit bid on Nanga Parbat, Txikon on top of Pumori

Nanga Parbat

It’s time for the Pole Tomek Mackiewicz and the Frenchwoman Elisabeth Revol this Sunday. According to Polish media information, the two climbers wanted to start at 2 a.m. local time (Saturday 10 p.m. CET) from their last high camp at 7,200 meters towards the summit. It will be their first and last attempt, it said. For Sunday, clear weather with temperatures of minus 33 degrees Celsius and wind speeds of about 60 kilometers per hour is expected for the highest point of Nanga Parbat at 8,125 meters. Mackiewicz and Revol are climbing without bottled oxygen.

Date

20. January 2018 | 22:16

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Summit attempt on Nanga Parbat?

Elisabeth Revol (l.) and Tomek Mackiewicz on Nanga Parbat

“We are acclimatized. We’ll try to reach the summit.” Tomek Mackiewicz is quoted on his Facebook page with these words. After about two weeks of strong winds, the weather on Nanga Parbat had improved, the conditions were good, it said. Tomek and his climbing partner Elisabeth Revol probably set off today towards their material depot at 6,700 meters.

Date

18. January 2018 | 15:22

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Helga Hengge: “Everest has given me a lot”

Helga Hengge in Cologne

You have only successfully climbed a mountain when you reach after the summit also the valley safe and sound. In this sense, Helga Hengge was the first successful German female mountaineer on Mount Everest. As a member of a commercial expedition team in spring 1999, she climbed from the Tibetan north side to the 8850-meter-high summit. Hannelore Schmatz had been the first German woman to reach the highest point of Everest in fall 1979, but she had died of exhaustion at 8,300 meters on her descent.

In 2011, Hengge became the first German female climber to complete the collection of the “Seven Summits”, the highest mountains of all continents. Helga is now 51 years old. She lives with her husband, her twelve-year-old daughter and her eleven-year-old son in Munich – and still goes to the mountains. Last fall, she tackled the 6543-meter-high Shivling in the Indian Himalayas. I met her on the margins of a lecture in Cologne.

Helga, it’s almost 19 years since you were on Mount Everest. Do you have any special relationship with the mountain?

Date

17. January 2018 | 23:27

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Camp 2 reached on Everest, storm on K2 and Nanga Parbat

Alex Txikon in Everest high camp (in the background on the right Pumori)

Alex Txikon is pleased with the progress made so far on his winter expedition on Mount Everest. On Sunday, the Spaniard and five Sherpas ascended from the base camp on the previously prepared route through the Khumbu Icefall, slept in Camp 1 at 6,050 meters and reached Camp 2 on Monday. “I am very happy, I did not think for a moment that we were going to reach Camp 2 at 6,500 meters in just one day and with a small team of only six people,” says the 36-year-old.

Date

16. January 2018 | 13:03

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Hillary’s final resting place with Everest view

Hillary Stupa above Khumjung

It is a beautiful place. Located on a hill above Khumjung, off the small path that leads down to the village. With a view to Mount Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam. Sir Edmund Hillary would have liked the place. For more than five years, a small part of his ashes has been resting there – in a stupa built in honor of the first ascender of Everest. Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of the death of the New Zealander. At the age of 88, Hillary had died on 11 January 2008 in Auckland. Most of his ashes were later scattered on the harbour of his hometown, at the express request of the deceased, as his son Peter Hillary once told me: “The city was the base camp for his expeditions. He was definitely an Aucklander.”

Date

12. January 2018 | 17:08

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Everest winter expedition: On the double to Camp 1

Alex Txikon in the Khumbu Icefall

This went fast. In just four days, the Spaniard Alex Txikon and the Sherpas Tenzing Gyalzen, Gelje, Cheppal, Walung Dorji and Pasang Norbu have completed the route through the Khumbu Icefall and reached Camp 1 at 6,050 meters. “Great job, we are very happy,” says Alex, adding that it was really hard work, each of them had carried between 25 and 35 kilos. The 36-year-old Basque points out that it took the six climbers five days less for this first major task than his team during the failed winter attempt in 2017 – despite the fact that at that time eleven, i.e. five more expedition members had been involved in the work. “The route through the icefall is very complex and required our full concentration,” says Alex. According to his words, he had searched together with the “Icefall Doctor” Gelje Sherpa for the ice areas with the lowest risk of collapsing.

Date

12. January 2018 | 0:01

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Winter expeditions: Just ahead, above and far above base camp

Polish K2 team at Concordia

Three winter expeditions to eight-thousanders, three different phases. In Pakistan, the Polish team led by Krzysztof Wielicki today reached Concordia after trekking over the Baltoro Glacier and is expected on Tuesday to pitch their tents in the base camp at the foot of K2, the last remaining unclimbed eight-thousander in winter. Already six days ago, the Spaniard Alex Txikon, the Pakistani Muhammad Ali “Sadpara” and their Nepalese Sherpa team had reached the base camp on the south side of Mount Everest. They are fixing a route through the Khumbu Icefall. Like last year, Alex participates in the work (as the video below shows).

Date

8. January 2018 | 17:13

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“School up!”: Move to the new buildings

The first two buildings are finished

When I saw the pictures, I found myself almost in tears – for joy! The year 2018 could hardly begin any better. This week I received the news from Thulosirubari that the students have moved from provisional corrugated-iron classrooms, that had been built after the devastating earthquake in Nepal in April 2015, to the first two finished buildings of the new school. A big day for our aid project “School up!” which I had launched along with the climbers Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Ralf Dujmovits more than two and a half years ago!

Date

4. January 2018 | 20:41

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