This will be an illustrious group of mountaineers. In April, not only expedition leader Dominik Mueller and his clients but two German record holders will gather in the base camp of the German operator Amical alpin on the Tibetan north side of Mount Everest. Firstly, the most successful mountaineer of the country, Ralf Dujmovits. The 53-year-old has already reached as so far only German climber the summits of all 14 eight-thousanders. On the other hand Alix von Melle, who scaled six eight-thousanders and thus leads the ranking of the most successful German women on the highest mountains in the world. Both want to climb without bottled oxygen, but they’ll do in separate teams: Ralf with the Canadian Nancy Hansen, Alix with her husband Luis Stitzinger. Van Melle says she has closed the chapter of the abrupt end of their Makalu expedition in May 2014. “This is over and mentally processed. I feel quite well again”, the 43-year-old told me.
Date19. March 2015 | 15:12
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
“The Lord of the smells“ – this was the title of a story I wrote more than 20 years ago for a German magazine dedicated to parents. At that time my wife and I were swaddling three children several times daily. Once the garbage men threatened to ignore our trash can packed with diapers, not only because it stank, but also because it was so heavy. One day, under the impression of having disposed again several portions of human waste, I wrote said article about the suffering of a swaddling father. It was never published. “Funny, but a little bit to stinky”, the chief editor of the magazine replied. Meanwhile, the public seems to be not as squeamish as in former times: A statement of Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, about the problem of human waste in the high camps on Mount Everest led to a true “shitstorm” on the Internet.
Date3. March 2015 | 23:46
TagsAng Tshering Sherpa, Dan Mazur, Dawa Steven Sherpa, Expeditions, Human waste, Mount Everest, Shitstorm
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
Russell Brice breathes out. “At last”, the 62-year-old New Zealander, head of the expedition operator Himalayan Experience, replies to my question on what he thinks about the planned new route through the Khumbu Icefall on Mount Everest. “We have been asking the SPCC (Note: The Sagarmatha Pollution Control Comitee is responsible for the route through the icefall.) to put the route more central since 2012. Now at last they have listened to the foreign operators instead of the local Sherpas who asked for the route to be moved so as they could travel faster … but not so safely.” Brice doesn’t expect that the new route will take the clients as much time as SPCC president Ang Dorjee Sherpa estimates: “It will take only about one hour longer, not three to four hours. You see there are not many people around these days who have been this way. But I have.”
Date20. February 2015 | 11:37
No matter how likely something seems to be, things may turn out quite differently. For many years, most climbers on the Nepalese side of Everest thought that the route through the Khumbu Icefall, which led – seen from below – along the left hand side directly below the West Shoulder, was safe. Until 18 April 2014 when a huge ice avalanche released and killed 16 Nepalis. The Sherpas revolted, the season was over before it had begun. This spring, the route is to be relocated further away from the West Shoulder, about 40 meters to the centre of the Icefall. Ang Dorjee Sherpa, president of the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Commitee (SPCC), which is responsible for the route, said to the Himalayan Times, he expected that the clients need three to four hours more to reach Camp 1. Although the new route is not as risky as the old one, it is more difficult, says Ang Dorjee. Not all are convinced that this is the last word.
Date19. February 2015 | 18:24
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
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
The ridge between audacity and high spirits is narrow. And it is always a question of perspective. If a climber is to explain a beach goer why he exposes himself to the risk of falling during a mountain tour, he will mostly meet with stunned disapproval. Alix von Melle will probably face those reactions if she will really set off for Tibet next spring to climb Mount Everest. Finally, Alix had to abort a summit attempt on Makalu for health grounds last May.
Date18. November 2014 | 10:54
TagsAlix von Melle, High Altitude Pulmonary Edema, Kilimanjaro, Luis Stitzinger, Makalu, Mount Everest
Maybe it will turn out to be not quite as bad as it looked first. A report of the Himalayan Times about the Everest permits has upset many mountaineers worldwide – including myself. The report said that the extension of last spring’s Everest permits by five years would apply strictly to groups not to individual climbers. Means: If even one member of an expedition would scale the mountain, permits of the other group members would be cancelled. After the avalanche accident in the Khumbu Icefall last April that had killed 16 Nepalese climbers and led to the premature end of the spring season, the government had announced that the 318 departed climbers could use their permits even within the next five years.
Date13. November 2014 | 23:37
A ladder at the Hillary Step? This story just won’t die. Last spring, a member of the Nepalese government had given a tip to some journalists that there were considerations in Kathmandu about this subject. After this year’s General Assembly of the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) at Flaggstaff in the USA a few days ago, the issue was item 1 of the final news release. “As one of the most iconic landmarks of the world, Mount Everest belongs to all of mankind”, the UIAA statement reads. “Thus, the ascent of this magnificent mountain should be reserved to those who acquired the skills and the experience needed to reach the highest point of the world.”
Date24. October 2014 | 14:15
Mountaineering is a sport. And there is – as in other sports – doping. Not the fact is surprising but the extent. “It is common practice,” German Professor Thomas Kuepper tells me. The occupational health and sport physician is working at the University Hospital Aachen. He was one of the authors of the report “Drug use and misuse in mountaineering”, which has been discussed at the General Assembly of the World Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing (UIAA) last week in Flaggstaff in the United States. Kuepper refers to an own study on Kilimanjaro: 80 percent of the summit aspirants used Diamox or Dexamethasone.
Date20. October 2014 | 15:24
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
As if nothing had happened. The Chinese climber Wang Jing has received her Everest certificate from the hands of Nepalese government officials in Kathmandu. Thus it is certified that the 41-year-old has scaled the highest mountain in the world on 23 May – officially and above all with no ifs and buts. Strange.
Date1. July 2014 | 15:11
The spring season on Mount Everest is over, but not the discussion about what happened at the highest mountain in the world. The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has set up a committee to clarify whether, when and how often helicopters were used to airlift team members of the Chinese female climber Wang Jing and the Brazilian-American Cleo Weidlich to Camp 2 at 6400 meters. On 23 May, Wang was the first person who reached the summit of Mount Everest this spring, just before the first successes from the north side were reported. Weidlich originally planned to climb Lhotse, but in her own words she made no real attempt to reach the summit.
Date7. June 2014 | 16:59