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Adventure Sports

with Stefan Nestler

Flow at the river

Between Bingen and Koblenz

Is there a better flow than one that you experience at a river? After this day I can hardly imagine it. Everything fitted together. The weather remained dry until the late afternoon, the cycle paths from Bingen via Koblenz into the direction of Cologne were in good condition, and my little folding bike almost wheeled by itself. On top of that I had an ideal travel companion with Kai from Cologne, who I first met shortly after Bingen.

Date

18. September 2017 | 22:30

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Resisted

Via the vineyard

The temptation was waiting at kilometer 90, just behind the village of Nierstein near the town of Mainz. Once again I was on a diversion (this time, for a change, exemplary signposted) and had driven for a while through vineyards. In the villages I had seen a lot of people sitting comfortably in “Strausses”  drinking new wine and eating onion tart. The sun was shining and I thought: If I would not try to ride as many kilometers as possible for “School up! River down!”, I would now for sure take the time to set in. I remained hard and continued cycling with my folding bike. Behind Nierstein, below the “Red Slope” – named after its clay sandstone ground and known for its excellent Riesling wines – about 30 people blocked the bike path.

Date

17. September 2017 | 22:16

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Three weddings and exhaustion

Departure in morning fog

I will sleep well, no matter how loud it is. “I have to warn you,” said the hotel staff at the front desk. “We have three wedding parties today, and music might be played until 6 a.m.” The hotel in the village of Altrip, located on the so-called “Blue Lagoon” about 15 kilometers from the gates of Ludwigshafen, specializes in the align of weddings. On the other hand, it also offers a special discount for bike tourists. Exemplary! And so I stood around 6 p.m. in my bike pants in the hotel lobby, a few meters away from me one of the three brides – and many guests who were dressed up. “Don’t worry,” I answered to the receptionist. “I’m all run down, I’ll sleep like a stone.”

Date

16. September 2017 | 23:00

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Together, cycling is easier

Not so alone as it looks like

It was the day of encounters. At first I cycled – for a change, in sunshine – along with a Swiss from the town of Zug, in his mid-60s, tanned, on a mountain bike that had already seen better days. “I’ve stopped working after 45 years,” the cyclist told me. “And now I am fulfilling my life dream. I always wanted to make a long bike trip.” I asked him how much time he took for the ride along the Rhine. “I’ll see how far I get until winter,” he said, grinning. In the further conversation it turned out that he was also a passionate mountaineer. He had climbed all four-thousanders of his home country, said the Swiss: “Actually, I had always dreamed of climbing Mount Everest one day. But tourism on this mountain has nothing to do with the way of climbing that I like.”

Date

16. September 2017 | 0:19

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Continuous rain and tailwind

Basel in rain

The man was so wrong. “This is passing by and it will be raining in the Black Forest,” the hotelier said in the morning in Laufenburg when I drew his attention to the threatening black clouds in the sky. His weather forecast stood up to reality about ten kilometers riding with my bike, exactly to Bad Säckingen. There it began to rain and did not stop until the early afternoon. The way to Bad Säckingen, I had heavy headwinds, even squalls, which had torn branches from trees and made garbage bags drifting across the street. At the same time, I even wondered if I was cycling in the right direction: the storm caused waves on the Rhine against the direction of flow. Well, I thought, if now in addition rain comes along, the weather inferno is complete.

Date

14. September 2017 | 21:59

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Damned wind

At the Rhine Falls

I am exhausted. What a day! I feel I have fought constantly. Against the heavy legs, my weaker self, against some, thank God, only short rain showers – and especially against the headwind. It has made me almost see red. It began already shortly after the start in the town of Kreuzlingen, when I rode along the so-called Untersee, the lower part of Lake Constance, before it flows into the River Rhine again. I was happy that the announced rain showers first stayed away, but the wind blew straight in my face. And this in addition to the fact that I really felt the first two stages of my donation bike tour “School up! River down!” with a total of 226 kilometers within two days in my calves.

Date

13. September 2017 | 22:39

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Kisses from heaven

Nice bike path, less nice weather

I know every rain is a kiss from heaven. But there are days when you do not want to be kissed, at least not from above. Unfortunately no one asks. This morning in Bad Ragaz, I had to pack my tent already wet. I started to ride in rainwear. After all, the involuntary shower ended after half an hour. I cycled down the Rhine with my folding bike for a long time on the dike top of the right side of the river. So I made flying visits in two other countries, first Liechtenstein, then Austria. Again and again some drops fell, but I could not bring myself to put on the rainwear again.

Date

12. September 2017 | 23:08

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One night in Heidiland

My place to sleep

I pitched my tent in Heidiland. This is how Bad Ragaz baptized their website. At the end of the 19th century, Johanna Spyri wrote in this small town on the Rhine her famous Heidi novels about the orphan who grew up with her grandfather, the “Almöhi”, living in the mountains. Spyri’s novels, with their slightly romanticized view of the life in the mountains, became one of the great Swiss export hits. Theoretically, Heidi could have had a folding bike. The first patent was issued in 1878, two years before the first Heidi novel was published. The original version, however, had little in common with my folding bike, which I used today on the first stage of “School up! River down”. Mine has 20-inch wheels, an eight-speed derailleur and weighs about 14 kilograms. I have to pat it on the saddle, today it has stood the test.

Date

11. September 2017 | 21:29

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An inn for myself

Having arrived at the Oberalp Pass

“Gruezi” from the Oberalp Pass at an altitude of 2044 meters in Graubünden in Switzerland. After a ten-hour train journey, during which I had to change trains four times with about 40 kilograms of luggage (including my folding bike), I have reached the starting point of my donation bike tour “School up! River down!”. One of the Rhine sources is located about three kilometers from here. When I arrived up here late in the afternoon, I was surprised: early September and already winter conditions.

Date

10. September 2017 | 20:09

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Big rush on Manaslu

Manaslu

Once again, Manaslu turns to become the “Everest of the fall season”. The base camp at the foot of the eighth-highest mountain on earth (8,163 meters) will soon be reminiscent of the tented village at the highest of all mountains in spring. According to the newspaper “The Himalayan Times”, the Nepali Ministry of Tourism has issued at least 135 permits to foreign mountaineers o climb Manaslu. Assuming that there will be on average one local Climbing Sherpa per one climber from abroad and some latecomers, probably between 300 and 400 people – including kitchen staff – will be arguing for the best pitches in the base camp. And the normal route via the north-east flank of the mountain might become crowded.

Date

7. September 2017 | 9:35

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“School up! River down!”

Despite my love for the mountains, I am also a river man. More precisely, a Rhine man. I was born in the Rhineland and grew up there, I live 30 meters as the crow flies from the river and work 100 meters from the Rhine. Day after day I ride the bike along the shore. I was exactly doing this when I came up with the idea of my next fundraising campaign for “School up!”.

Along with the climbers Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Ralf Dujmovits, I had launched “School up!” two years ago to rebuild the school of Thulosirubari, a mountain village about 70 km east of Kathmandu. The school had been destroyed by the devastating earthquake in Nepal in April 2015. Despite the heavy monsoon, the construction work has continued in recent months, the school building is increasingly taking shape (see the slideshow below). But we have not yet reached the goal and need more donations. That’s why I’ll start a week today a donation bike tour under the motto “School up! River down!”.

Date

4. September 2017 | 13:35

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Alexander Huber: “Climate change is clearly noticeable”

Ogre II and I (r.), they reached the col

Three attempts, then it was over. As reported, Alexander Huber, the Swiss Dani Arnold and the two East Tyroleans Mario Walder and Christian Zenz abandoned their expedition on the 7285-meter-high Ogre I in Pakistan and returned home. They had wanted to reach the summit of the mountain, which so far has been scaled only three times, over the still not mastered East Pillar. I spoke to Alexander, aged 48, the younger of the two Huber brothers, about the failed expedition.

Alexander, you wrote on Facebook that you knew what the mountain wanted to tell you. What was the message?

We set off to the mountain three times and were able to control the situation with maximum risk management three times. But we noticed every time that we were running extremely late. There was only a very short time window to move safely on the mountain. In this case you have to be en route with full steam to get out of the danger zone on time. We did it three times, and it turned out well. But one day it won’t work so well, and then you are in the middle of this extremely dangerous terrain and can not get out.

Date

2. September 2017 | 18:59

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Japanese climbers land a coup on Shispare

Kazuya Hiraide (l.) and Kenro Nakajima

Put the eight-thousander glasses aside! At an insignificantly lower mountain in the west of the Karakoram in Pakistan, two Japanese climbers succeeded an extraordinary ascent on 22 August. According to the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA), Kazuya Hiraide and Kenro Nakajima climbed for the first time via the Northeast Face of the 7611-meter-high Shispare. In four days, the two Japanese climbed in Alpine style through the 2700-meter-high wall to the summit and descended via the Northeast Ridge, it said.

Date

1. September 2017 | 16:37

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Ogre by night schedule

East Pillar of Ogre I

This summer, there was hardly anything to be gained on Ogre I. “The weather was almost always rather bad,” German top climber Alexander Huber writes on Facebook about his expedition to the 7285-meter-high mountain in Pakistan. The conditions were marginal. “A little old snow from the winter and a lot of fresh snow from early summer in the structure of the snowpack. In addition always high temperatures. Summing up, piles of slush.” The 48-year-old, the younger of the Huber brothers, had wanted to reach the summit along with the East Tyroleans Mario Walder and Christian Zenz and the Swiss Dani Arnold via the still unclimbed East Pillar. Even before departure, Alexander had described Ogre I to me as “one of the most exclusive peaks of our planet, one of the most difficult spots to reach”. This was confirmed: Climbing was only possible after night schedule.

Date

30. August 2017 | 22:16

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High or highest point of Broad Peak?

Broad Peak

Chroniclers of mountaineering in the Himalayas and Karakoram like the Germans Billi Bierling and Eberhard Jurgalski are in an unenviable position.  On the one hand, in the age of commercial climbing, they are facing a real flood of success reports which can hardly be overcome. On the other hand, summit successes are reported, which in fact are none because the climbers did not reach the highest point. “It’s getting harder and harder,” Billi Bierling told me some time ago. Following the retreat of the legendary chronicler Elizabeth Hawley (now 93 years old), Billi is now in charge of leading the Himalayan Database. “Actually, I’m inquiring closely. But sometimes I just want to have more time,” said Bierling. She assumed that most climbers were still honest, but sometimes the truth was “a bit distorted”, she complained.

It is disputed now whether the Nepalese expedition leader Mingma Gyalje Sherpa really led his group to the highest point of Broad Peak on 4 August, at the end of the summer season in Karakorum. Eberhard Jurgalski has compared Mingmas video, which was recorded in snow drifting, with other summit videos and photos from Broad Peak and concludes that the group has not reached the highest point of the eight-thousander but a different elevation on the summit ridge, at least 45 minutes away from the summit and about 25 meters lower than this.

Date

29. August 2017 | 16:44

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