She does not fit into the clichés that many people in the West have of Arab women. Fatima, called Tima, Deryan does not stand in the shadow of a man. She is cosmopolitan, self-confident and independent. She has founded a company in Dubai where she lives – and she is a mountaineer: Tima has already scaled five of the “Seven Summits”, the highest mountains of all continents. Mount Everest and Mount Vinson in the Antarctica are still missing from her collection.
On 23 March, the 26-year-old will fly to Nepal to climb the highest mountain on earth. On the trek to Everest Base Camp, Tima will certainly pay special attention to the yaks. In October 2017 on her way to Island Peak, she was attacked by a yak when she had just crossed a bridge over the Dudh Kosi between Phakding and Namche Bazaar. She was flipped over by the yak. The horns hit her at the thigh, Deryan was slightly injured.
Tima, how did you become a mountaineer?
Date24. January 2019 | 10:37
Still crazy after all these years. This title of a song by Paul Simon could also stand above the lives of many climbers – if they have survived their daring adventures into old age. Being a little crazy – and I mean that in a positive way – is just part of the game. Alexander Huber, the younger of the two Huber brothers, will celebrate his 50th birthday this Sunday.
The list of his successes is long. Thus Alexander opened several rock climbing routes in the eleventh degree, climbed (with his two years older brother Thomas, Toni Gutsch and the US-American Conrad Anker) for the first time through the West Face of the 7,108-meter-high Latok II in the Karakoram in 1997, stood one year later without bottled oxygen on the summit of the eight-thousander Cho Oyu or climbed free solo difficult routes in the Alps such as the “Hasse-Brandler-Diretissima” through the North Face of Cima Grande (in 2002) or the “Schweizerführe” at the 3,838-meter high Grand Capucin in the Montblanc region (in 2008). Last summer, Huber and his German climbing partner Fabian Buhl opened a new 2,200-meter-long route via the South Buttress of the 6,166-meter-high Choktoi Ri in the Karakoram (see video below).
Alexander lives with his wife and three children on a farm near Berchtesgaden. I called him a few days before his big birthday.
Alexander, you are about to turn 50. Is that a day like any other for you?
Date28. December 2018 | 11:30
Tags50th birthday, Alexander Huber, Choktoi Ri, Fabian Buhl, Huber brothers, Karakoram, South Buttress
Without him, I couldn’t call myself a first ascender. Luis Stitzinger was the expedition leader of the German operator “Amical alpin” in summer 2014, who led us to maximum success on the 7,129 meter high Kokodak Dome in western China: All 16 team members reached the summit – not least thanks to Luis’ experience and circumspection. Stitzinger already stood on eight eight-thousanders: Cho Oyu (in 2000), Gasherbrum II (2006), Nanga Parbat (2008), Dhaulagiri (2009), Broad Peak (2011), Shishapangma (2013), Manaslu (2017) and Gasherbrum I (2018). He scaled them all without bottled oxygen, six of them together with his wife Alix von Melle.
This Sunday, Luis will celebrate his 50th birthday, “under palm trees on a sandy beach,” he tells me laughing. With Alix, he treats himself to a three-week holiday in the Greek climbing paradise of Leonidio: “I gave it to myself for my birthday.” I spoke to him before he left to Greece.
Luis, half a century old, doesn’t even an experienced mountaineer get a bit dizzy?
Date15. December 2018 | 0:36
Even the master of the impossible sometimes faces profane problems. “Get in, I still have to find a parking space,” Adam Ondra tells me when we meet two weeks ago at the agreed place in the centre of the northern Italian city of Trento. The 25-year-old Czech is one of the top stars of a sports festival to which he has travelled with his van from his hometown Brno.
Ondra has been pushing the limits of sport climbing for years. Already at the age of 13, he climbed a route with a 9a degree of difficulty on the French scale which is commonl in the sport climbing scene – which in the rating of the International Climbing and Mountaineering Association (UIAA) corresponds to a route in the eleventh degree. For comparison: Reinhold Messner mastered the seventh degree at his best times as a rock climber. At the end of 2016, Ondra succeeded the first repetition of the “Dawn Wall” route on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, which is considered the most difficult big wall route in the world, in just eight days. In September 2017, he mastered an extremely overhanging route in a cave near Flatander in Norway – the world’s first 9c (twelfth degree in the UIAA scale). The climbing world bowed once more to Ondra, nobody doubted his rating.
After guiding Adam to the parking garage in Trento, where my car is parked too, we use the way back to the venue for the interview.
Adam, you’re climbing since you were a little boy. Can you imagine that one day you’ll get tired of it?
Date26. October 2018 | 17:30
Tags9c route, Adam Ondra, Alex Megos, Combined Olympic Format, Dawn Wall, Flatander, Olympic Games 2020, Silence, Sport climbing
The 59-year-old is a phenomenon, a living climbing legend: Austrian Beat Kammerlander is still overcoming vertical walls, almost without climbing grips – preferably in the Rätikon, quasi on his own doorstep. The Vorarlberg native lives with his wife Christine and their two children in the city of Feldkirch. A week ago, at the “International Mountain Summit” (IMS) in Brixen, Kammerlander received the renowned “Paul Preuss Award“, which honours climbers who stand in the tradition of the free climbing pioneer who fell to his death in 1913. Preuss had pleaded for a far-reaching renunciation of climbing equipment such as ropes or bolts (“Skill is the measure of what is allowed.”). “Actually, the award could also be called the ‘Beat Kammerlander Award’,” said Hanspeter Eisendle from South Tyrol, winner of the prize in 2013, in his laudation. I spoke with Kammerlander during the IMS.
Beat, next year you’ll be 60 years old and you’re still climbing crazy tours. Will you tell us the secret of your success?
Date20. October 2018 | 22:14
TagsBattle zone, Beat Kammerlander, Extreme climber, IMS, International Mountain Summit, Paul Preuss Award, Rätikon
He himself was the most dangerous polar bear in Greenland. Whenever the German extreme climber Robert Jasper pitched up his tent last summer during his one-month solo expedition in the eternal ice, he built a protective fence against polar bears around it. If one of the predators had touched the fence, a flare would have gone off to chase the polar bear away – and of course to warn Robert. One day, however, the 50-year-old was so in mind that he touched the fence when he wanted to climb over it. “I almost blew myself up,” says Jasper.
Date18. October 2018 | 20:51
TagsGreenland, IMS, International Mountain Summit, Molar Spire, Robert Jasper, Solo expedition, Stonecircle
“I often wish I had been born a hundred years ago,” says Tamara Lunger. “When I hear the 90-year-olds talking, I think to myself: Oh, they were still adventurers! Today we are only pussies compared to them.” Yet, in 2010, at the age of 23, the professional climber from South Tyrol stood on the summit of the eight-thousander Lhotse, as the youngest woman at that time, and in 2014, she scaled K2, the second highest mountain on earth, without bottled oxygen.
During the “International Mountain Summit” in Brixen I am hiking with Tamara from the Latzfonserkreuz downhill. Her parents are keeping the alpine hut up there. We talk about Tamara’s adventures of the past years. The 32-year-old is a honest soul and doesn’t mince her words: “People tell me: ‘You can talk easily, you can live what gives you pleasure.’ However, sometimes there is something negative in my pleasure that I have to accept and learn from. That’s actually what’s important.”
Date17. October 2018 | 7:14
TagsGora Pobeda, IMS, International Mountain Summit, Kangchenjunga, Nanga Parbat, Simone Moro, Tamara Lunger
There are people who seem to be able to override the law of gravity. Alex Megos is one of them. The 25-year-old German from the city of Erlangen is one of the best sports climbers in the world. At the age of 19, he was the first in the world to master onsight a route in the Spanish climbing area of Siurana in French grade 9a, which corresponds to eleventh grade according to the classic UIAA difficulty scale. For comparison: Reinhold Messner climbed the seventh degree in his best days. Onsight means that Alex simply climbed straight on without having got any information about the route beforehand. This coup opened the door to professional climbing for him. This spring, Megos added another highlight: He managed the first ascent of the route “Perfecto Mundo” in the climbing area Margalef in the northeast of Spain (see video below showing one of his failed attempts), his first 9b+ (according to UIAA scale a climb in the lower twelfth degree). A single route worldwide is currently considered even more difficult.
I met Alex Megos during the 10th International Mountain Summit (IMS) in Brixen, South Tyrol, where the big names of the mountain scene have been passing the mike to each other for years.
Alex, you are one of only three climbers in the world who have climbed a route with difficulty level 9b+. So you’re right at the front of the pack. How does that feel?
Date12. October 2018 | 7:29
Tags9b+, Adam Andra, Alex Megos, Brixen, Chris Sharma, International Mountain Summit, Olympics 2020 Tokio, Perfecto Mundo, Sport climbing, Stefano Ghisolfi
Once again, he has almost sprinted up a wall. Last August, Swiss Dani Arnold climbed the Grandes Jorasses North Face solo and without rope in the new record time of 2:04 hours. In 1938, it had taken the first climbers (led by Italian Riccardo Cassin) three days to complete the route via the Walker Spur. Since 2015, the 34-year-old is also holding the speed record for climbing the North Face of the Matterhorn (1:46 hours). Dani had made his first bang in 2011 when he broke Ueli Steck’s record in the Eiger North Face by 20 minutes and reached the summit after 2:28 hours. Steck had regained the best time in 2015 (2:22 hours).
Dani Arnold is a mountain guide and lives with his wife Denise in the canton of Uri in the 4,000-person village of Bürglen, where more than 200 inhabitants (no joke, he confirmed it to me) bear the name Arnold. I met Dani in my hometown Cologne – before his appearance as the main speaker of the Cologne Alpine Day.
Dani, how do you like the name “Usain Bolt of the classical north faces in the Alps”?
Date8. October 2018 | 16:00
TagsDani Arnold, Eiger North Face, Grandes Jorasses, Huber brothers, Matterhorn North Face, Speed record, Ueli Steck, Walker Spur, Walkerpfeiler
They have two homes. German professional climber David Göttler and his partner Monica Piris spend the winter in Chamonix am Mont Blanc, the summer in Monica’s native northern Spain, between the towns of Bilbao and Santander, “where Spain is still really green”, David enthuses. This summer, as reported, Göttler had returned from Pakistan empty-handed. Bad weather had put a spoke in the wheel of him and his teammate, Italian Hervé Barmasse, on the 7,932-meter-high Gasherbrum IV in the Karakoram. Yesterday Göttler celebrated his 40th birthday in Spain – not in the mountains, but on the construction site, as he tells me, when I belated congratulate him: “I have finished my training room. So it was a good day.”
40 years, David, that’s a mark. Many ook back then on their lives or make plans for the future. You too?
Date4. September 2018 | 17:45
Tags40th birthday, David Göttler, Eight-thousanders, Gasherbrum IV, Herve Barmasse, Kangchendzönga, Kangchenjunga, Karakoram, Mount Everest, Nanga Parbat, Ueli Steck
“It was very, very cool and intense,” Hansjörg Auer tells me. After his successful solo project in the Hunza region in northern Pakistan, the Austrian top climber is back in his native Ötztal. As reported before, the 34-year-old had first climbed the approximately 1,000-meter-high West Face of the rarely attempted 7157-meter-high Lupghar Sar West – solo. First Hansjörg climbed from the base camp to a bivouac site at the foot of the wall at about 6,200 meters. From there he left on 7 July at 5 am and climbed up to the summit in six and a half hours. At 8 pm, Auer was back at the base camp.
Hansjörg, you said in advance that you wanted to know what it’s like to be alone in the wall of a very high mountain. How did you experience it?
Date25. July 2018 | 13:42
He leaves the records to others. “I could do something to set a record on Everest, but I don’t want to do that because I have so much respect to the mountains,” Tendi Sherpa tells me. “I have no problems with others who do records. But for myself, my interest and my aim is: I just want to keep climbing mountains, keep leading and working as a normal guide. I don’t need to be super popular.” Tendi is already known. He has scaled Mount Everest eleven times so far, eight times from the south, three times from the north. Summit success number twelve could follow this spring. The 34-year-old will be the Sirdar, the head of the Sherpas, on an expedition of the US operator “Climbing the Seven Summits” on the Nepalese south side of the highest mountain in the world. Five of his clients want to climb Everest, two Lhotse.
Date12. April 2018 | 18:02
TagsClimbing the Seven Summits, Expedition, Helicopter rescue, Mount Everest, TAGnepal, Tendi Sherpa
On Thursday, the (calendrical) winter begins – and thus the question rises again: Who will try to climb which mountain in the cold season? A top-class Polish expedition led by veteran Krzysztof Wielicki will attempt to climb K 2, the last remaining eight-thousander which has not been scaled in winter so far. The Pole Tomek Mackiewicz and the Frenchwoman Elisabeth Revol are said to have already arrived in Pakistan in order to return to Nanga Parbat.
And what’s about the South Tyrolean Tamara Lunger and the Italian Simone Moro? Both are considered as extremely “winterproof”. The 50-year-old Simone has four first winter ascents of eight-thousanders on his account (Shishapangma in 2005, Makalu in 2009, Gasherbrum II in 2011, Nanga Parbat in 2016). The 31-year-old Tamara and Moro tackled in vain Manaslu in winter 2015. A year later on Nanga Parbat, Lunger had to turn back only 70 meters below the summit, because she felt bad. In this Advent, Lunger and Moro already had a summit meeting: with the Pope. I contacted Tamara:
Tamara, two professional mountaineers (Simone and you) took a selfie with Pope Francis, how did that happen?
Date20. December 2017 | 11:19
TagsAlex Txikon, Mount Everest, Muhammad Ali Sadpara, Nanga Parbat, Pope Francis, Simone Moro, Tamara Lunger, winter expedition
He is anything but a self-promoter. Paul Ramsden does not belong to the group of extreme climbers who are out to market themselves and want to be constantly in the spotlight. Though he certainly deserves it – the list of his first ascents in the Himalayas is long. In fall 2016, for example, the British, together with his compatriot Nick Bullock, succeeded to climb for the first time through the extremely demanding North Face of the 7,046 meter high Nyainqentangla South in Tibet. For this performance, they were recently awarded the Piolet d’Or. It was already the fourth time that Ramsden received the “Oscar of the Climbers”. And this is despite the fact that the 48-year-old is not a professional climber. He earns his living as a self-employed occupational hygienist who advises companies and furnishes expert reports.
Paul, you are a non-professional climber, you have a job and family. What is your motivation to set off year by year to remote mountain areas in the Himalayas to tackle unclimbed mountains, walls or ridges?
Date14. December 2017 | 12:21
TagsExpeditions, Himalayas, Interview, Mick Fowler, Nick Bullock, Nyanqentangla South East, Paul Ramsden, Piolet d'Or 2017
It does not hurt more than usual. I can say that from my own experience. It is rather a mental challenge to realize that the first 50 years are over and the second half of life has definitely begun. Time to take stock. This Friday, Simone Moro celebrates his 50th birthday. The Italian can already be more than satisfied with his career as a high-altitude climber. No one else besides Simone has four winter first ascents of eight-thousanders on his account.
In 2005, Moro summited along with the Polish climber Piotr Morawski the 8027-meter-high Shishapangma for the first time in the cold season. Three other first winter ascents followed: In 2009 with the native Kazakh Denis Urubko on Makalu (8,485 m), in 2011 with Urubko and the American Cory Richards on Gasherbrum II (8,034 m) and in 2016 with the Spaniard Alex Txikon and the Pakistani Muhammad Ali “Sadpara” on Nanga Parbat (8,125 m). Simone did all these eight-thousander climbs without bottled oxygen. Last spring, Moro and the South Tyrolean Tamara Lunger had planned to traverse the four summits of the Kangchenjunga massif, but had to turn back without having reached a single summit. Two attempts ended at 7,200 meters, because Simone suffered from stomach ache. Moro is married to the South Tyrolean climber Barbara Zwerger and has a 19-year-old daughter and a seven-year-old son. Simone has also earned his merits as a rescue helicopter pilot in the Himalayas.
Simone, half a century in your legs, how does that feel?
Date26. October 2017 | 11:25
Tags5oth birthday, First winter ascents, Gasherbrum II, Kangchenjunga, Makalu, Nanga Parbat, Shishapangma, Simone Moro, Tamara Lunger