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with Stefan Nestler

Glowacz: “Dodging means accepting”

Stefan Glowacz

Stefan Glowacz

Mountaineers and climbers travel. Frequently and as self-evident. Finally mountains do not come to them. This is precisely why it should be self-evident that people involved in mountain sports should raise their voices when the freedom of travel is restricted or even abolished – as now by US President Donald Trump for people from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. So far, the great outcry of the climbing scene has stayed away. Is it perhaps because in these countries – with the exception of Iran – the number of mountaineers and climbers is limited? Or because those countries are (still) not among the favorite destinations of the mountain friends? After all, German top climber Stefan Glowacz didn’t mince his words.

Date

1. February 2017 | 16:05

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Construction site with heart

The ceiling of the first floor is concreted

The ceiling of the first floor is concreted

Four are standing around and discussing, one is working. This image is known from public construction sites in Germany. The situation is quite different in Thulosirubari, a small village about 70 kilometers east of Kathmandu. There the new school is being built with great enthusiasm – made possible by your donations for our aid projekt “School up!”. “All villagers are happy to be able to help with the work,” says Shyam Pandit, liaison man of the German aid organization “Nepalhilfe Beilngries” in the Himalayan state. Devi Dulal, head of the local school committee, is also delighted: “This will be a unique building for us. The work on this is very satisfactory for us.” The old school had been so badly damaged by the devastating earthquake at the end of April 2015 that it had had to be demolished. At the end of June 2015, I had launched – along with the extreme climbers Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Ralf Dujmovits“School up!” to rebuild the school as quickly as possible. In the meantime, the ceiling of the first floor has been concreted. Here are some impressions of the construction site from the past weeks:

Date

31. January 2017 | 15:38

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Alex Txikon’s Everest dream team

Alex Txikon in high camp on Everest

Alex Txikon in high camp on Everest

Danger welds together. When Alex Txikon returned to Base Camp after six exhausting and exciting days on the slopes of Mount Everest, he hugged every Sherpa who had accompanied him. “In this team everyone knows what needs to be done,” the 35-year-old Basque writes in his blog. The appreciation is mutual. In Alex’ words, Norbu Sherpa told him during the descent: “I believe that for more than 20 or 30 years, no westerner has done what you are doing.” Like the six Sherpas, Txikon had carried up loads of more than 30 kilograms through the Khumbu Icefall and further up.

Date

26. January 2017 | 13:07

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Txikon on Everest: Recharging batteries

Alex Txikon along with the Sherpas Nurbu, Nuri and Chepal

Alex Txikon along with the Sherpas Nurbu, Nuri and Chepal

Taking a breath – this is what Alex Txikon wants to do not only figuratively but also literally. After six days on the mountain, the 35-year-old Basque has descended to the Base Camp at the foot of Mount Everest. “We climbed to 7,800 meters,” Alex tweeted after his return to BC, which is located at about 5,350 meters and where the air is much thicker than in the height just below the South Col. “It’s time to rest,” says Txikon. And, perhaps, to re-plan the tactics too, after his companion Carlos Rubio – as reported – had to abandon the expedition because of a lung inflammation.

Date

25. January 2017 | 14:21

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Revol abandons winter expedition on Manaslu

Deep snow on Manaslu

“Swimming time on Manaslu”, Elisabeth writes on Facebook: “Snow, snow, snow…”

And again snow wins. French climber Elisabeth Revol and her companion Ludovic Giambiasi have abandoned their winter expedition at Manaslu. This is reported by the Kathmandu-based newspaper “The Himalayan Times”. Heavy snowfall and strong winds in the high camp forced Elisabeth Revol to give up, Rishi Bhandari, head of the Nepalese expedition operator Satori Adventures, told the newspaper. The French team has already broken off their base camp and descended to the village of Samagaon. According to Bhandari, Revol had reached an altitude of 7,300 meters at Manaslu and had planned a summit attempt for Tuesday.

Date

23. January 2017 | 12:54

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Rescue operation on Everest

Rescue flight for Carlos Rubio

Rescue flight for Carlos Rubio

Alex Txikon has to re-plan. On Sunday his climbing partner on Mount Everest, Carlos Rubio, had to be evacuated by rescue helicopter to Kathmandu due to a lung inflammation. The 28-year-old Spaniard has meanwhile sent a video message from the hospital. His condition is not serious, but he has to recover for a few days at the clinic. “I know he is fine”, Alex Txikon wrote from Camp 3 at 7,400 meters, “but from here we miss him a lot, since he has worked like a champion and I am really proud of him.” Today Txikon and the Sherpas who accompany him want to pitch up Camp 4 at the South Col at almost 8,000 meters, “for all the force he has transmitted to us”, as Alex writes: “In short, this dream would not be possible without you, Carlos.”

Date

23. January 2017 | 11:51

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Fiennes stopped on Aconcagua by his back

Ranulph Fiennes on Aconcagua

Ranulph Fiennes on Aconcagua

Is he really getting old after all? Sir Ranulph Fiennes has back trouble. Britain’s best-known adventurer had to be flown off from Aconcagua by a rescue helicopter at the beginning of the week. On the highest mountain of South America, the 72-year-old suffered from so bad back pain that he could not continue his ascent to the highest point on 6,962 meters. “I was within just a few hours of the summit but problems with my back meant I couldn’t continue,” Fiennes said. “I’m very frustrated, but I’ve learnt that at my age you can’t ignore any pain.”

Date

19. January 2017 | 21:30

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Txikon reaches Camp 2 on Everest

Alex Txikon (at Camp 1)

Alex Txikon (at Camp 1)

Sunny, but extremely cold. This is what the weather forecast predicts for the next days on Mount Everest. In addition, the wind is to refresh. Temperatures between minus 20 and minus 30 degrees Celsius are expected, Alex Txikon informs. In addition, the wind is to refresh. Nevertheless, the team set off from Base Camp today and reached after seven hours the site of Camp 2 at 6,400 meters. Alex, his Spanish countryman Carlos Rubio and nine Sherpas had previously secured the way through the Khumbu Icefall and pitched up Camp 1 at 6,050 meters, at the entrance of the Western Qwm. It was said, that the team might climb up even to Camp 3 at 7,400 meters within the next days. The climbers are expected back in Base Camp on next Sunday or Monday.

Date

19. January 2017 | 11:28

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Liaison officer dies of high altitude sickness

Mount Everest

Mount Everest

Death on the Everest winter expedition: However, none of the climbers died but a government official. According to the Kathmandu-based newspaper “The Himalayan Times” the liaison officer, who was to accompany the winter expedition of the Basque Alex Txikon on behalf of the Tourism Ministry, died of high altitude sickness. The man passed away on the flight from Dukla (4,600 meters high) to Lukla (2860 meters) where he was to be treated in the hospital. The Spaniards Alex Txikon and Carlos Rubio want to climb Mount Everest without bottled oxygen this winter. The team has meanwhile – as reported – pitched up Camp 1 at 6,050 meters above the Khumbu Icefall.

Date

17. January 2017 | 16:45

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Hard winter work on Everest and Manaslu

Alex Txikon at the entrance of Western Qwm

Alex Txikon at the entrance of Western Qwm

Winter expeditions are not for wimps. “Today we have climbed up to 6,050 meters to build Camp 1”, the Basque Alex Txikon wrote in his blog from Everest on the weekend. “At the moment, we have less than minus 30 degrees Celsius.” After all, the team of eleven – Alex, his Spanish countryman Carlos Rubio and nine Sherpas, including two “Icefall doctors” experienced in dealing with the dangerous Khumbu Icefall – are quicker than expected. At the beginning of last week, Txikon had assumed that it would take four weeks to reach Camp 2 at 6,400 meters.

Date

16. January 2017 | 12:50

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China fuels the price spiral – and invests

Tibetan North side of Mount Everest

Tibetan North side of Mount Everest

Climbing on an eight-thousander in Tibet is getting more expensive, not only on Mount Everest. According to documents available to me, the Chinese Mountaineering Association (CMA) has significantly increased the prices for the climbing permits on Everest, Cho Oyu and Shishapangma, on average by more than 30 percent. Since the beginning of the year, the CMA claims 9,950 US dollars per mountaineer for the climb of the highest mountain on earth in case of four or more team members. So far the Everest Permit cost about 7,000 dollars per head. 7,400 dollars are now due for Cho Oyu, 7,150 dollar for climbing Shishapangma from the north side and 7,650 dollars for an ascent from the south side of the mountain. For smaller teams of up to three, the permit costs are even in a five-digit range: 19,500 dollars per person on Everest, 12,600 dollars each on Cho Oyu and Shishapangma.

Date

13. January 2017 | 14:51

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An Icefall Doctor himself

Txikon with a ladder on his back

Txikon with a ladder on his back

At the moment Alex Txikon may feel on Mount Everest a bit like Edmund Hillary. Like the first ascender from New Zealand and his companions in 1953, the Basque must play an active part in finding a way through the dangerous Khumbu Icefall above Base Camp and in carrying material needed to secure the route. For example aluminium ladders to cross the deep crevasses in the Icefall. With a weight of about five kilograms, such a ladder is not too heavy but bloody bulky while climbing through the ice. Real back-breaking work, as the video shows which the 35-year-old sent today from Everest Base Camp:

As reported, Alex, along with his Spanish countryman Carlos Rubio, wants to scale Mount Everest in winter, for the first time since 1993 – without bottled oxygen. The two climbers and nine Sherpas first have to make their way through the dangerous Icefall. Txikon has estimated this work for up to four weeks.

Pretty exclusive experience

As in Hillary’s days, the Spanish expedition is currently the only one on the highest mountain on earth. What a contrast to spring, when year after year several hundred mountaineers from dozens of commercial expeditions turn the Base Camp into a small tent town!

Dangerous Khumbu Icefall

Dangerous Khumbu Icefall

When the clients arrive there at an altitude of 5,300 meters in April, usually the so-called “Icefall Doctors” have already prepared and secured the way through the Icefall. This team of eight Sherpas also ensures that the route remains accessible throughout the climbing season until its end early June. The highly specialized Sherpas are selected and paid by the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC), an organization that originally only cared about the environmental protection in the National Park around Mount Everest. Since 2000, the SPCC has also been responsible for the route through the Khumbu Icefall on behalf of the Government of Nepal. In spring 2014, 16 Nepalese climbers were killed in an avalanche in the Icefall.

Even if it turns out that Alex Txikon is not able to reach the summit at 8,850 meters this winter – his experience of working as a non-Sherpa as Icefall Doctor is pretty exclusive.

Date

11. January 2017 | 14:58

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Alex Txikon on Everest: “I think we can do it”

Alex Txikon

Alex Txikon

It is a long and hard way up to the 8850-meter-high summit of Mount Everest – all the more in winter and if you want to do it without bottled oxygen. And Alex Txikon and his teammates are just at the beginning. The Basque, his Spanish companion Carlos Rubio and nine Sherpas have begun to find and fix a route through the Khumbu Icefall. “Honestly, it’s what I’m afraid of climbing Everest, I do not want us to get stuck and we’re equipping it for a month”, Alex writes in his blog: “We are working hard, we have to climb a lot of stairs. In short, we have to equip a labyrinth of ice blocks. The terrain “is technical, difficult and demanding,” says Alex. I sent three questions to Everest Base Camp.

Alex, after your winter success on Nanga Parbat in February 2016 you now tackle Mount Everest. Which challenges do you expect on the highest mountain on earth and how high do you estimate your chance of success?

Date

9. January 2017 | 12:20

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With Sherpa women’s power to the top of Kangchenjunga

Maya Sherpa, Dawa Yangzum Sherpa, Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita (from l. to r.)

Maya Sherpa, Dawa Yangzum Sherpa, Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita (from l. to r.)

The trio wants the triple. After having climbed Mount Everest and K 2, Maya Sherpa, Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita and Dawa Yangzum Sherpa plan to scale next spring also the third-highest mountain in the world, the 8,586-meter-high Kangchenjunga in the east of Nepal. Via the normal route, with bottled oxygen. They climbed Everest still separately – Maya for the first time in 2006, Pasang Lhamu in 2007 and Dawa Yangzum in 2012 – but K 2 in Pakistan in 2014 for the first time together as a team. As early as in 2015 the trio wanted to climb Kangchenjunga. However, at that time the expedition did not come about for financial reasons. This time, too, there is still money left, Maya Sherpa, who is to lead the first Nepalese women’s expedition to Kangchenjunga, writes to me. The Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) has announced to provide financial support as well as Tashi Lakpa Sherpa, managing director of the expedition operator Seven Summit Treks, says Maya Sherpa. The Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) has not yet decided whether it will also participate in the costs. In addition, the three Sherpani try to get a free permit for their expedition by the government.

Date

6. January 2017 | 15:44

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Txikon and Co. reach Everest BC

Alex Txikon in Everest Base Camp

Alex Txikon in Everest Base Camp

Ready to go. “We are already at the Base Camp,” Alex Txikon writes on Twitter from the Nepalese south side of Mount Everest.  The Basque climber and his companions have pitched their tents in the 5360-meter-high Base Camp at the foot of the Khumbu Icefall. For one week, the team had trekked from Lukla via the Khumbu region to BC. Txikon reported on dry but cold winter weather.

Date

5. January 2017 | 15:08

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