Hans Wenzl: “All alone on top of Everest”
He had to push himself to his limits. Last Saturday, the Austrian Hans Wenzl – as reported before – reached the highest point on earth at 8,850 meters, despite adverse weather conditions, ascending from the Nepali south side without bottled oxygen. Mount Everest was already the eighth eight-thousander which Hans summited without breathing mask. He previously had stood on top of Broad Peak, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum I and II, Manaslu, Cho Oyu and Makalu. In addition, he reached in 2005 the 8,008-meter-high Central Peak of Shishapangma which is 19 meters lower than the Main Summit. His long-term goal is to complete the eight-thousander collection without supplemental oxygen. Even though the 46-year-old is not a professional climber. Wenzl earns his living as a site foreman of an Austrian construction company. For his expeditions he has to take holiday. Hans lives in the village of Metnitz in the north of Carinthia. He and his wife Sonja have two adult sons. He replied to my questions, which I had sent him to Nepal.
Hans, first of all congratulations on your success. You climbed the last stretch up to the summit of Everest last Saturday alone and in contrast to your team partner Ferran Latorre without bottled oxygen. How did you experience your ascent in the summit area?
I have climbed Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen. For me, it was always out of the question to use a breathing mask! I didn’t think that the ascent from Camp 4 to the summit is so long. It was quite windy and foggy.
Were you able to think about anything at all when you reached the highest point after all the exertions?
Of course, I was slower than the climbers ascending with oxygen. But I wasn’t completely exhausted when I reached the summit. I was alone up there for about 20 minutes, between about 0.30 p.m and 1.00 p.m. local time. And I thought: Now I am here at the highest point on earth and all alone. I’ve managed it without oxygen. I knew it!
Many say the descent is actually more dangerous because you have achieved the great goal, you are losing your power and concentration too. How did you experience the descent to the South Col?
The descent was really very exhausting, especially on the Hillary Step. I fell there. The time to return to the South Col in daylight was running short. Nobody was still en route but me. I had to be very concentrated on the descent to get down quickly and safely.
Everest was your eighth eight-thousander without bottled oxygen. How do you rank this summit success compared to the previous seven ascents?
Because of the altitude and without supplemental oxygen, Everest was probably the hardest summit so far for me.
Date1. June 2017 | 13:34