A video of two minutes and 28 seconds has made Jost Kobusch known throughout the world in one go. It shows the huge avalanche from the seven-thousander Pumori that was triggered by the earthquake in Nepal on 25 April and devastated Everest Base Camp. 19 people lost their lives. Jost survived and put his video online on YouTube. It spread like wildfire. The 22-year-old German climber grew up near the town of Bielefeld. Talking to me, he called himself a cosmopolitan: “I travel a lot. Last year, I lived in Kyrgyzstan for six months, in Nepal for two months, in Svalbard for two month and in Japan for a month. There was not much time left for my home address.” At the end of May, Kobusch wants to return to Nepal to help where it is possible. Afterwards he will travel to Kyrgyzstan, to the village of Arslanbob, some 200 kilometers southwest of the capital Bishkek, where he plans to initiate a climbing project with local people. I talked to Jost about his experiences after the earthquake in Nepal.
Jost, what did you think this week when you heard about the new earthquake in Nepal?
I was sitting in front of my computer and received on Facebook a message from a friend who wrote: We survived. Till then I had not heard anything about it. I immediately wrote to all my Nepalese friends whether they were doing well. A friend, who normally replies promptly, did not answer, neither in the evening nor the next morning. I started to get worried. Fortunately, she replied after all. She wrote that they were now living in a tent, because it was safer. That made me a little bit nervous. I’ll soon go to Nepal. I worry about my own safety.
Date17. May 2015 | 16:07
There was no climbing on Mount Everest on this Saturday. At the Base Camp at 5,300 meters, more than 300 western climbers and an equivalent number of Sherpas commemorated the 16 Nepalis who had been killed in the avalanche in Khumbu Icefall exactly one year ago. It was the worst avalanche disaster in the history of Everest. The German climber and physician Matthias Baumann had witnessed the tragedy at the Base Camp. Later he visited the families of the victims and launched a relief campaign for them. In March, the 43-year-old trauma surgeon from the city of Tuebingen traveled again to Nepal. He distributed money to the families of the victims and launched financial sponsorships to guarantee the education of the avalanche victims’ children.
Matthias, a year ago, you were at the Base Camp of Mount Everest, when the avalanche released in the Khumbu Icefall. You were among the doctors who first treated the injured climbers. Are you still thinking of what happened on 18 April 2014?
Date18. April 2015 | 21:09
He was knighted to Sir Chris Bonington but he kept his feet on the ground. The 80-year-old Briton, a true living legend in mountaineering, is still a friendly man who is always speaking frankly. I was able to verify this at first hand when I met him last week in Chamonix where he was awarded the Piolet d’Or for his life achievements in the mountains.
Chris, what does the “Career Piolet d’Or” mean to you?
It means a huge amount, because this is an award for my peer group. And in it I’m joining some of the finest and best climbers in the world [Walter Bonatti (awarded in 2010), Reinhold Messner (2011), Doug Scott (2011), Robert Paragot (2012), KurtDiemberger (2013), John Roskelley (2014)], many of whom of course are good friends as well. So it means as much as any award I ever had.
You are 80 years old and you are still climbing, most recently in Catalonia in Spain some weeks ago. Please tell me your secret?
Date16. April 2015 | 16:31
TagsAdventurer, Annapurna II, Everest Southwest Face, Mount Everest, Piolets d'Or, Shivling, Sir Chris Bonington
The Everest climbers are in the starting blocks. In four weeks, the majority of them will travel to Nepal or Tibet. The final decision of the Nepalese government, whether and, if so, how exactly the permits of the prematurely terminated spring season 2014 are valid for 2015, is still to be made. Dominik Mueller, head of the German operator Amical alpin, doesn’t have to worry about that. The 43-year-old leads an expedition to the Tibetan north side of Everest. His team will include not only “normal” clients but also three top-class mountaineering professionals from Germany. Ralf Dujmovits, so far the only German who climbed all eight-thousanders, wants to scale Everest without bottled oxygen – together with the Canadian Nancy Hansen. Alix von Melle and Luis Stitzinger plan to do the same. The German couple has so far climbed six eight-thousanders. Dominik Müller worked as an expedition leader on six of the 14 highest mountains. He reached the summit of Cho Oyo twice. “During the other expeditions, I had to put aside my personal interests being the leader”, Dominik told me. This time on Everest this could be different.
Date6. March 2015 | 17:18
TagsAlix von Melle, Amical Alpin, Dominik Müller, Luis Stitzinger, Mount Everest, Ralf Dujmovits, Sherpa
He was one of the first at the scene. After the fatal avalanche at the Khumbu Icefall on 18 April 2014, Dawa Gyaljen Sherpa rushed down from Camp 2 to help the buried climbers. “On the spot, we encounter dead bodies and blood everywhere. There were a row of dead bodies in one main rope swept into the crevasse”, the 28-year-old Sherpa wrote to me in 2014. “When we pulled the rope, we found the body one after another in the same crevasse. Some of the dead bodies were buried into the snow and we could see only the boots, it seemed those bodies were upside down.” 16 Nepalese were killed in the avalanche, two weeks later the Base Camp was empty, the season finished. Dawa Gyaljen Sherpa has summited Everest four times, he did it for the first time when he was 19 years old. Later Dawa studied in UK. Now he’s living in Kathmandu. I asked him what he thinks about the upcoming Everest spring season. He replied openly. A Sherpa point of view, an interesting insight.
Date25. February 2015 | 14:40
It has become quieter around Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner. A fact that she actually likes. The 44-year-old Austrian is still a sought-after speaker. So Gerlinde can not complain about a lack of work. But she has enough time to travel around. Without any pressure – that disappeared after she had successfully completed her big project by climbing K 2 in 2011: She was the first and so far only woman in the world who climbed all 14 eight-thousanders without bottled oxygen. Our paths crossed on Mount Everest in 2005, when she tried (in vain) with Ralf Dujmovits and Hirotaka Takeuchi to climb the North Face and I reported about it. In 2010, she reached the summit via the Tibetan normal route. I met Gerlinde at the trade fair ISPO in Munich a week ago and we talked about Everest.
Gerlinde, you climbed Mount Everest as well as the other 13 eight-thousanders without supplemental oxygen. At the moment there are a lot of discussions about what happens on the highest of all mountains, especially because of the avalanche disaster and the subsequent end of all expeditions on the Nepalese side in spring 2014. The Sherpas revolted. Did this conflict boil up and over?
Date14. February 2015 | 21:15
Actually, Ueli Steck only wanted to do an active holiday in Tibet in autumn 2014. The 38-year-old top climber from Switzerland planned to climb the eight-thousander Shishapangma with his wife Nicole via the normal route. It soon became clear that it would not be as easy as it seemed first because there was too much snow on the mountain. “But just sitting around in the base camp, that’s really not my thing”, Ueli told me last week at the trade fair ISPO in Munich. “Thus I accompanied the guys in their summit attempt.” These guys were the German ski mountaineers Benedikt Boehm, Sebastian Haag and Martin Maier and the Italian Andrea Zambaldi. In the summit area, an avalanche descended: Haag and Zambaldi died, Maier survived seriously injured. Only Steck and Boehm were not swept away by the avalanche. Reason enough to talk with Ueli about risk and luck:
Ueli, people say, a cat has nine lives. How many lives do you have?
Date11. February 2015 | 15:45
His bookmark is still in the book of Everest. Ralf Dujmovits scaled all 14 eight-thousanders, as the only German so far. Only on Mount Everest in 1992, Ralf used bottled oxygen – something that the 53-year-old sees as a blemish by today. This spring, Ralf wants to travel to the highest mountain in the world for the already seventh time, for the fourth time to the Tibetan north side. Last year Dujmovits reached there an altitude of 8,300 meters on the northeast ridge. At that time he got angry about his own mistakes. And so Ralf’s repeatedly announced “definitely last” attempt on Everest became once again just his most recent try. This year, he wants to climb in a team with the Canadian Nancy Hansen. I met Ralf at the trade fair ISPO in Munich and asked him about his Everest plans:
Ralf and Mount Everest, a never ending story?
Date9. February 2015 | 22:03
This man can not keep his hands off winter climbing. Simone Moro has already made three first winter ascents of eight-thousanders: Shishapangma (in 2005), Makalu (2009) and Gasherbrum II (2011). “I did twelve expeditions in winter”, the 47-year-old climber from Italy tells me when I meet him in my home town of Cologne. “In total, a lot of months.” I am curious about his new plan:
Simone, you have spent most of the last winters at eight-thousanders? What’s about the coming winter?
I am preparing a new project that is still secret. Not because I have something to hide but just because I am waiting for the climbing permit. At the beginning of the winter I had an idea, then I didn’t get the permit by the Chinese. So I had to change my plan. That is the reason why I don’t want to announce it before I’m one hundred percent sure. What I can tell you: I will start already in 2015, quite late, but still in winter.
What can you reveal? Will it be an eight-thousander? There were rumors that you would try the first winter ascent of Mount Everest from the north side.
Date2. December 2014 | 12:19
Survived! On 24 September, Martin Maier was swept down 600 meters by an avalanche on the eight-thousander Shispapangma in Tibet. It was not only his friend Benedikt Boehm who called it a “small miracle”, that the 39-year-old climber from Munich did not die. The avalanche had released not far below the summit. The German ski mountaineer Sebastian Haag and the Italian Andrea Zambaldi were also caught by the avalanche and, in contrast to Maier, buried by the masses of snow. Both climbers died. Boehm and the Swiss Ueli Steck were just able to rescue themselves, when the entire slope began to slip off.
Martin Maier is recovering slowly but surely from the injuries he suffered in the accident. The engineer is not a professional climber, but has already gained a lot of experience on expeditions, inter alia to the Patagonian ice cap and to some 6000ers in South America. In 2012, he climbed the 8163-meter-high Manaslu in Nepal, the eighth highest mountain in the world. Martin told me his really incredible story of survival on Shishapangma:
Martin, how are you doing now?
I still have to struggle with many aftermaths of the avalanche and the whole tragedy, with my injuries that are yet to cure. And then of course there are always the thoughts with the friends who have died.
Date10. November 2014 | 16:54
TagsAndrea Zambaldi, Avalanche, Benedikt Boehm, Martin Maier, Sebastian Haag, Shishapangma, Tibet, Ueli Steck
Time is relative, depending on how you feel about it. Already three weeks ago? Only three weeks? This is the length of time that has passed since the avalanche on the eight-thousander Shishapangma in Tibet. On 24 September, the German ski mountaineer Sebastian Haag and the Italian Andrea Zambaldi died in an avalanche that released not far below the summit. Martin Maier, who was also swept away by the masses of snow, survived. Benedikt Boehm and the Swiss Ueli Steck were able to escape the avalanche. I call Benedict at home in Munich.
Benedict, it’s now three weeks since the avalanche on Shishapangma went down. Have you been able to come to terms with the accident?
No, not really. Immediately after the avalanche, I was involved with the rescue of Martin Maier, who had survived the avalanche as if by magic. It took two days, then we headed back home. Now I am busy again in my incredibly wonderful life that I am able to live here. As the manager of a relatively large sports brand, there are many tasks to complete, if you’ve been away for so long. That does not leave much time to come to rest. I had this time only during a couple of hours doing sports in the mountain early in the morning or late in the evening.
Date17. October 2014 | 15:53
TagsAndrea Zambaldi, Avalanche, Benedikt Boehm, Double8, Martin Maier, Sebastian Haag, Shishapangma, Ueli Steck
This man seems to be ageless. How on earth does Reinhold Messner do it? The first man who climbed all 14 eight-thousanders, responds with his motto from Tibetan: “Kalipé” – with steady feet. Ahead of his 70th birthday on Wednesday, I called him at home in South Tyrolia.
Reinhold Messner, how will you celebrate your birthday?
It will be a private birthday party, in no way a public one. There is a time and a place. I can tell you that I have invited my friends to bivouac. For the last time, at the age of 70, I will spend the night after the party outdoor, under the stars, in the sleeping bag. Most of my friends will do the same, all the others will drive to the hotel in the valley.
Date15. September 2014 | 15:52
More than 300 Everest dreams are gone. As many climbers returned home empty-handed after their expeditions had been cancelled after the avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall on Good Friday. One of them was David Goettler. The 35-year-old from the German town of Munich had wanted to climb the highest mountain in the world via the normal route on the Nepalese south side without bottled oxygen. Goettler was still acclimatizing when he heard the first still inconsistent reports about the avalanche. “Initially, I hoped that I might still be able to make an attempt”, David told me on the phone. Therefore, he first continued his acclimatization program. “But when I was on the summit of Island Peak (6000er in the Everest region) and wanted to sleep below the highest point, the news came that my expedition and all others would be cancelled.” He returned to Kathmandu.
Date3. May 2014 | 13:14
2013 was an unusual year for Alexander Huber. The younger of the two Huber brothers was not on expedition, in contrast to his brother Thomas. Instead, the 45-year-old climber published a book (there is no English version yet), in which Alexander commits to fear as open as probably no climber did before. I met him at Leverkusen near my hometown of Cologne where he was holding a lecture.
Alexander, when will we see you on expedition again?
The next expedition is coming soon. By mid-June we will start to the Karakoram. Let’s see what will happen.
Do you reveal your plan?
Date2. April 2014 | 13:06
David Goettler is not only a fast climber, but also a speed responder. After I had written the report about the failed summit attempt on Nanga Parbat, I sent an email with some questions to the 35-year-old climber in Pakistan. I really didn’t expect a rapid response, because David had just arrived back at base camp and should actually need time to recover. However, an hour later I got the acoustic signal for a new message. His answers are rather brief, writes Goettler, “I’m still half on the mountain ;-).” Read it for yourself!
David, once again it was not to be. What a pity! A lack of your determination was not the reason.
No, I felt fit. But we also knew or noticed that the terrain up there was really challenging. This means that you must have still a lot of strength and concentration for the descent. In combination with only one reserve day concerning the weather we decided that it was too close.
Date1. March 2014 | 22:23