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with Stefan Nestler

Female climbers from Nepal on Everest: In the footsteps of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa

Statue of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa in Kathmandu

One drama, two versions. In both the protagonist dies, but the reasons given for her death differ significantly. Tomorrow, Sunday marks the 25th anniversary of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa becoming the first Nepali woman to reach the 8,850-meter-high summit of Mount Everest. The triumph ended in tragedy. The 31-year-old mother of three children subsequently died on the descent on the South Summit. According to the official Nepalese version, Pasang Lhamu lost valuable time on 22 April 1993 because she helped her teammate Sonam Tshering Sherpa who suffered from high altitude sickness. In addition the weather turned bad, it was said. A report written by the (recently deceased) legendary Himalayan chronicler Elizabeth Hawley, published in the American Alpine Journal, has a distinctly different tenor.

Date

21. April 2018 | 16:44

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Chasing Everest record unintentionally

Kami Rita Sherpa

Some records just happen by themselves. Like the one of Kami Rita Sherpa on Mount Everest. If the 48-year-old reaches the summit of the highest mountain on earth at 8,850 meters this spring as a team member of the Nepalese expedition operator “Seven Summit Treks”, he will be the sole record holder. He still shares the record of 21 Everest summit successes with Apa Sherpa and Phurba Tashi Sherpa. “I did not start climbing to set a world record,” Kami Rita told AFP. “But in the course of my work in the guiding industry this is going to be my 22nd ascent. It wasn’t for any competition.”

Date

14. April 2018 | 22:07

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Two teams will try Everest-Lhotse traverse

Halo above Everest Base Camp

The base camps on both sides of Mount Everest are slowly but surely filling up. For the Nepalese south side, the government in Kathmandu has issued around 275 permits to foreign climbers. The route through the Khumbu Icefall has been already completed. Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, expedition leader and head of the Nepalese operator “Imagine”, is enthusiastic about the work of the “Icefall Doctors”: “The route to Camp 1 is best so far. They used to experience ladders in more than 20 places but this year it is only in three different places with two ladders joined maximum. As the 32-year-old informed on Facebook, there are still two big crevasses between Camp 1 at about 6,000 meters and Camp 2 at 6,400 meters to be crossed. “It is expected to have at least three to five ladders joined.

Date

13. April 2018 | 17:11

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Tendi Sherpa: “Just don’t jump on Everest!”

Tendi Sherpa

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.

Date

12. April 2018 | 18:02

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Double amputee from China tackles Everest

Xia Boyu

The decision of the Supreme Court of Nepal to overrule the government’s new Everest rules has cleared the way for him: the double amputee Xia Boyu from China will tackle the highest mountain on earth this spring from the Nepalese south side. “Yes, we got his permit”, Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, head and expedition leader of the Nepalese operator “Imagine Trek and Expedition” writes to me. As reported, the Supreme Court in Kathmandu had rejected in early March the government’s new rule not to issue permits to double-amputee climbers and blind people as discriminating. Mingma Gyalje had shaken his head at the government’s decision: “There are a lot of disabled climbers who are more capable than non-disabled.”

Date

31. March 2018 | 21:46

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News from Pamper Land: Luxury on Everest

First have a shoeshine

Call me old fashioned. But for me, the special appeal of expeditions is also to leave everyday’s comfort zone and live a simpler life in the mountains, in the ice or anywhere else. This must not mean that you have to mutate into a caveman. But if, as happened recently on Mount Kilimanjaro, I see Korean mountaineers who, just after arriving at the Kibo Hut at 4,720 meters, first let local helpers dust off their shoes, I can only shake my head. Not as embarrassing, but similarly disturbing, I feel it when a tent camp on a mountain hardly differs from your own apartment. Even on Mount Everest!

Date

29. March 2018 | 23:00

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Mingma Sherpa: “We don’t need rules for Everest”

Mingma Sherpa

No question, Seven Summits Treks polarize. On the one hand, there are the critics who accuse the Nepalese expedition operator of attracting clients with dumping prices at the cost of safey. On the other hand, there are apparently many climbers who, despite all critical voices, book at Seven Summits Treks. No matter on which eight-thousander, almost always the agency of Mingma Sherpa crops up with the biggest expedition team. “I am very successful in my business because my clients believe in me,” the head of the company tells me in Kathmandu. In 2011, Mingma was the first Nepalese to complete his collection of the 14 eight-thousanders. “I wanted to show that we Sherpas are not only good porters or mountain guides, but also real climbers.” In 2013, his younger brother Chhang Dawa Sherpa followed the example of Mingma. They are the only brothers so far who stood on all 14 eight-thousanders. Chhang Dawa also works as an expedition manager at Seven Summit Treks.

Date

26. March 2018 | 8:20

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Ralf Dujmovits: “I’ve closed the chapter Everest”

Enthusiastic welcome für Ralf Dujmovits (r.)

A joint week in Nepal is behind Ralf Dujmovits and me. As reported before, we inaugurated the first two parts of the new school building in Thulosirubari, a small mountain village about 70 kilometers east of Kathmandu, which could be built thanks to our aid project “School up!”. And we laid the foundation for the second construction phase. In Kathmandu I conducted some interviews – you could already read those with the expedition operators Arnold Coster and Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, more will follow shortly. Ralf took the time to meet old acquaintances and to visit some of his favorite spots in the capital. The 56-year-old is so far the only German mountaineer who has scaled all 14 eight-thousanders. Only on Mount Everest in fall 1992 he used bottled oxygen. Later he tried seven times to climb the highest mountain in the world without breathing mask, seven times he failed to reach the summit – most recently in spring 2017 at 8,580 meters on the Tibetan north side of the mountain.

Ralf, we are now here in Kathmandu, not far from Mount Everest, about 160 kilometers as the crow flies. Is it not itching you a bit?

Not at all, at the moment. I have completed this story for me. Of course, I follow what’s happening on Everest. This is still very exciting. But for myself, I have closed the chapter Everest. 

Date

21. March 2018 | 22:22

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Mingma Gyalje Sherpa: “Discounters are dealing with people’s life”

Mingma Gyalje Sherpa

His secret of success? “Actually this is my job, because I run a company. So I need to lead my clients to the summit,” Mingma Gyalje Sherpa tells me as we sit opposite each other in a café in Kathmandu. In recent years, the 31-year-old has blossomed to the high-flyer among the Sherpas. In fall 2015, he succeeded the first ascent of the West Face of the 6685-meter-high Chobutse in Rolwaling, his home valley – and he did it alone. It was the first solo ascent of a Sherpa in Nepal. Even as an expedition leader, he made headlines. In 2017, no one climbed so often above the magical 8,000-meter-mark as Mingma. The head of the expedition operator “Imagine Trek and Expedition” entered the death zone six times: on Dhaulagiri, Makalu, K2, Broad Peak and twice on Nanga Parbat. Four times he reached the summit (Dhaulagiri, Makalu, K2, Nanga Parbat), the fifth ascent on Broad Peak is disputed. “I will return to this mountain this year,” Mingma announces. “Actually I am quite sure that we made the summit. But this time, I want to reach the highest point of Broad Peak without any doubt, on the one hand to end the debate, on the other for my own satisfaction.”

Date

18. March 2018 | 18:56

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Coster: “Too busy in the Khumbu Icefall“

Arnold Coster

The Everest spring season is on. This Saturday, eight “Icefall Doctors“ will be celebrating a puja in the base camp on the Nepalese south side of the highest mountain in the world, a Buddhist ceremony, during which the gods are asked for their blessing. Next week, the Sherpas, who are specialized in this task, will prepare this year’s route through the Khumbu Icefall. At the beginning of April the first commercial teams are expected in the base camp. “I’m wondering how busy it will be on the south side with every year we see the numbers increasing significantly,“ says Arnold Coster, when I meet him today in Kathmandu. “And I wonder how many actually switch to the Tibetan side.“

Date

15. March 2018 | 20:00

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Nepal’s Supreme Court strucks down new Everest rules

South side of Mount Everest

The government of Nepal has to revise the controversial new mountaineering rules for Mount Everest and other mountains in the country higher than 6,500-meters. The country’s Supreme Court supported the position of several plaintiffs who found that the new rules were a discrimination against disabled people. Among other things, the government had decided at the end of December with immediate effect not to issue permits to double-amputee climbers and blind people. The complainants had stated inter alia that Nepal had signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and that the new rules clearly contradicted these rights. This opinion was followed by the five judges of the Supreme Court.

Date

8. March 2018 | 17:56

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Stricter Everest waste rules in Tibet

North side of Mount Everest

Stricter waste rules apply immediately on the Tibetan north side of Mount Everest. “With the number of climbers is increasing rapidly, more and more waste is produced by climbers in mountaineering activities,” says a statement from the China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA) to the expedition organizers I have received. “Protecting the ecological environment it’s our duty and obligation, also benefit our next generations.” In May 2017, workers and volunteers had collected on behalf of the Tibetan authorities four tons of garbage at altitudes between 5,200 and 6,500 meters on Everest.

Date

6. March 2018 | 18:21

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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 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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