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with Stefan Nestler

And the winners are: Raphael, Ian and Ueli

Steck, Welsted, Slawinski (f.l.t.r)

Steck, Welsted, Slawinski (f.l.t.r)

This year’s jury of the Piolet’s d’Or has given the “Oscar of mountaineering” to two teams. The jury lead by the former US top climber George Lowe awarded “two very different ascents to represent the spirit of modern mountaineering”, as the members said. The Golden Ice Axes go to the Canadians Raphael Slawinski and Ian Welsted for their first ascent of the 7040-meter-high K 6 West in Karakoram on a new route via the Northwest Face and to the Swiss climber Ueli Steck for his solo ascent via the South Face of the eight-thousander Annapurna in Nepal. The awards were given to the climbers during a gala in Courmayeur in Italy at the foot of Mont Blanc on Saturday evening.

Date

30. March 2014 | 17:53

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Goal: A new route to the top of Kangchenjunga

The North Face of Kangchenjunga

The North Face of Kangchenjunga

Even if it may seem in spring again as though there was only Mount Everest, it is also worth looking to other eight-thousanders. A highly qualified team has been formed to open a new route via the north face of Kangchenjunga: Denis Urubko and Artem Brown from Russia, Adam Bielecki from Poland and the Basque Alex Txikon. Urubko has initiated the project. Denis, who was born in Kazakhstan but is now a Russian citizen, wants to draw a definite line under the past year which was so unfortunate for him.

Date

26. March 2014 | 16:09

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Blind climber Andy Holzer will try to climb Everest

Blind climber Andy Holzer on Carstencz Pyramid (© Andreas Unterkreuter)

Blind climber Andy Holzer on Carstencz Pyramid (© Andreas Unterkreuter)

“I have decided to make a big journey with my friends.” With these simple words Andy Holzer has announced his so far most spectacular project. The blind climber wants to get upon the roof of the world, the summit of Mount Everest. On 2 April the 47-year-old Austrian will start with his friends Andreas Unterkreuter, Wolfgang Klocker and Daniel Kopp to Nepal, in order to climb the highest mountain on earth. “My motivation is simply that I want to use an opportunity in life”, Andy writes on his homepage. “Never before I was, and due to the quickly passing years probably never after I will be in such a physical, mental and logistical constitution to be able to reach this secret dream of every true mountaineer.” In short: Now or never!

Date

21. March 2014 | 17:29

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The tedious topic of ladder

Everest-mit-LeiterA news does not necessarily become more true by repeating it again and again. There are reports in many German newspapers that ladders should be fixed at the Hillary Step, the key point of the normal route on the Nepalese side of Mount Everest, to prevent traffic jams. This has been producing headlines like “Nepal makes climbing Everest easier”. Let us look at the facts: Mohan Krishna Sapkota, spokesman of the Ministry of Tourism in Kathmandu, has told a journalist of a news agency that there were considerations to fix ladders at the Hillary Step. He didn’t say when it should happen. All this is not new.

Date

19. March 2014 | 0:32

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Nanga Parbat remains unclimbed in winter

Obrycki (l.) and Dunaj in the hospital of Skardu

Obrycki (l.) and Dunaj in the hospital of Skardu

“Time to go home!” Jacek Teler gets to the point. The Polish winter expedition to Nanga Parbat has been unsuccessful too. After the avalanche accident a week ago the last chance for another summit attempt was gone. Spring will start next Thursday. In Skardu the cherry trees are already blooming, Jacek writes in his blog. He has accompanied his team mates Pavel Dunaj and Michal Obrycki to the military hospital in the town where the injuries of the two climbers were treated. Both are doing well, under the circumstances. Pavel has suffered the more serious injuries by the avalanche: four broken ribs, his lung collapsed. However, all in all it could have been worse. Dunaj and Obrycki are still alive.

Date

16. March 2014 | 11:43

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Avalanche on Nanga Parbat

Nanga Parbat (© The North Face)

Nanga Parbat (© The North Face)

Dramatic turn on Nanga Parbat: The Polish climbers Pavel Dunaj and Michal Obrycki have been hit by an avalanche when they were about 5000 meters high, just below Camp 1. Both were injured. Explorersweb.com reports that Pavel broke an arm and several ribs. Michal has apparently suffered leg injuries and a broken nose. Tomek Mackiewicz, Jacek Teler and Pakistani helpers succeeded to bring the two injured back to basecamp. They are to be flown out as soon as possible. “Helicopters and pilots are on standby but due to inclement weather conditions the helicopter evacuation has not been possible since yesterday”, informs Muhammad Irfan of the air rescue company “Askari Chartered Services (ACS)” on the Facebook page of the Polish Expedition. “However, we remain standby and as soon as the weather improves the helicopters will be dispatched to evacuate the Polish climbers.” As reported, Dunaj and Obrycki had climbed up to make a new track and to dig out Camp 1. Mackiewicz and Teler wanted to follow on Sunday.

Update 11. March: Pavel and Michal were brought on stretchers to the nearest village Tarashing, from where they should be driven by jeeps to hospital.

Date

10. March 2014 | 12:27

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Next try on Nanga Parbat

Tomek at 7200 meters (© The North Face)

Tomek at 7200 meters (© The North Face)

If there were an “Oscar” for persistence, the Polish climbers on Nanga Parbat would deserve it. For more than 80 days now Tomasz, called “Tomek” Mackiewicz and his friends are already staying on the eight-thousander in Pakistan, still focussed on their great goal: the first winter ascent of the 8125-meter-high mountain. This weekend, they are climbing up again. On this Saturday Pawel Dunaj and Michal Obrycki should start – “to make a new track and to dig out the camp for Tomek, who will start with Jacek on Sunday,” we read on the Facebook page of the expedition “Justice for all”. So, obviously, Tomek Mackiewicz and Jacek Teler are to form the summit team at the fourth attempt.

Date

8. March 2014 | 18:58

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Garbage collection on Everest

Garbage at the South Col

Garbage at the South Col

When, finally, will a piggy bank be placed in the editorial offices, into which everyone has to pay five Euros, who calls Mount Everest the “highest garbage dump in the world”? The money could then be donated to environmental projects in Nepal. These days, the phrase again was often used in the German press. And hardly anyone made the effort to look at this more closely. What has happened? There is a new rule to remove garbage from Everest, no more and no less.

Date

6. March 2014 | 12:22

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Goettler: “It was too close”

David during his summit attempt (© The North Face)

David during his summit attempt (© The North Face)

David Goettler is not only a fast climber, but also a speed responder. After I had written the report about the failed summit attempt on Nanga Parbat, I sent an email with some questions to the 35-year-old climber in Pakistan. I really didn’t expect a rapid response, because David had just arrived back at base camp and should actually need time to recover. However, an hour later I got the acoustic signal for a new message. His answers are rather brief, writes Goettler, “I’m still half on the mountain ;-).” Read it for yourself!

David, once again it was not to be. What a pity! A lack of your determination was not the reason.

No, I felt fit. But we also knew or noticed that the terrain up there was really challenging. This means that you must have still a lot of strength and concentration for the descent. In combination with only one reserve day  concerning the weather we decided that it was too close.

Date

1. March 2014 | 22:23

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Nanga Parbat summit attempt failed

Nothing to be gained for David Goettler (© The North Face)

Nothing to be gained for David Goettler (© The North Face)

Over and out! Once again, climbers find Nanga Parbat in winter a hard nut to crack. David Goettler and Tomek Mackiewicz have aborted their summit attempt. “Too windy, too cold, too dangerous,” twittered the Italian Emilio Previtali, who was keeping contact with the German and Polish climber by radio. “We went up, we did our best and we pushed hard”, said David. Both climbers descended. Lower on the mountain, Pawel Dunaj and Jacek Teler also decided to turn back. “They are collecting all the gears and ropes. Everyone is fine”, writes Emilio. This sounds like the definite end of both expeditions. Earlier it was said that the third summit attempt would be probably the last for this winter. Already on Friday, the Italian Simone Moro had returned to base camp due to stomach trouble. “Hard to put all my emotions into words after these days”, David Goettler wrote on Facebook, “from being sad that we had to turn around to being happy that I could take a look at the Diamir side, being above 7200 m, being now safe back in BC and being home soon!”

Date

1. March 2014 | 15:49

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Goettler and Mackiewicz at 7000 meters

David before the summit attempt

David before the summit attempt (© The North Face)

The excitement is increasing. Will there be the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat this weekend or even another failed summit attempt in the long list of unsuccessful winter climbs on this eight-thousander. A new rope team of two climbers has been formed that wants to go up to the highest point at 8125 meters on Saturday. Tomacz called “Tomek” Mackiewicz from Poland and David Goettler from Germany are spending the night in their new Camp 4 at 7000 meters. It was cold with a bit of wind, reported the Italian Emilio Previtali, who is keeping contact with the climbers by radio from basecamp. He is no longer alone there. His compatriot Simone Moro, who has climbed three eight-thousanders firstly in winter, has returned. “He feels okay, but has some stomach trouble,” Emilio writes on Twitter. “Not the right conditions to go up the mountain and be exposed to altitude for days.”

Date

28. February 2014 | 18:15

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Third summit push on Nanga Parbat

Moro (l.) and Goettler in high camp (© The North Face)

Moro (l.) and Goettler in high camp (© The North Face)

Endurance, strength, good conditions on the mountain, luck with the weather. These are the essential ingredients for a successful summit menu on Nanga Parbat. Everything has to fit together. If only one ingredient is poor or even lacking, you can forget the menu. The third summit attempt of the two expedition teams on the Rupal side of Nanga Parbat is on. Five climbers are trying their luck: the three Poles Tomasz Mackiewicz , Pawel Dunaj and Jacek Teler, the Italian Simone Moro and the German David Goettler. Tomasz is  already staying in Camp 3 on about 6700 meters. David has reached the lower  Camp 2.5. “The wind is dropping, and he is out the clouds”, reports Emilio Previtali, who is holding contact with David and the other summit aspirants from basecamp by radio. The five climbers want to set up Camp 4 above 7000 meters. From there – if everything fits – they will try to reach the 8125-meter-high summit on Saturday.

Date

27. February 2014 | 14:18

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David Goettler: “Morale is tiptop!”

David Goettler in basecamp (©The North Face)

David Goettler in basecamp (©The North Face)

Do the winter climbers find Nanga Parbat a hard nut to crack? A Polish expedition is on the 8000er in Pakistan for eight weeks now, an Italian-German Team for over six weeks. In the past week the second summit attempts of both teams failed. Simone Moro and David Goettler reached Camp 3, but returned because of the bad weather. I sent some questions to David in basecamp. The 35-year-old climber from the town of Munich replied promptly:

David, the second summit attempt was also unsuccessful, you stopped at 6800 meters. How difficult was it for you to turn back again?

This time it was a little harder. Because the weather was not so bad when we decided to turn around. But we knew that it wouldn’t work, and thus it was definitely the right decision. Also because it was really very cold! When we were still descending, clouds came in and it began to snow. Up on the mountain we would have had problems to orient ourselves. And on the following day the strong wind would have thwarted any summit attempt. All in all we have saved valuable power and avoided frostbite.

Date

18. February 2014 | 21:14

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Maxut’s new Everest is higher than 8848 m

Maxut Zhumayev

Maxut Zhumayev

“When I was approaching the highest point I saw Vassiliy sitting in the snow, ten meters away from the summit. I was very happy because my friend had waited for me”, said Maxut remembering his summit day on K 2 on 23 August 2011. “This was very special.” That day Maxut Zhumayev and Vassiliy Pivtsov completed their 8000er collection, ten years and ten days after they had climbed Gasherbrum I, their first 8000-meter-peak. The two Kazakh climbed 13 of the 14 eight-thousanders as a rope team, only on Manaslu they joined different expeditions. That is unique, says Maxut: “In the history of climbing we don’t have the same story that two climbers have reached so many 8000-meter-summits together.”

Date

6. February 2014 | 15:14

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Motorised glider over Everest

Flying high

Flying high

Science and adventure are often not far apart. With a motorised glider and a 3-D camera on board scientists of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and pilots of the “Mountain Wave Project” have explored Mount Everest a week ago. “The conditions were ideal, despite the wind speeds at the summit of Everest, which neared 100 kilometres per hour,” said pilot Klaus Ohlmann. “The almost turbulence-free slope updrafts helped us ascend quickly.” Ohlmann and his co-pilot Jona Keimer started in Pokhara in the Annapurna region and needed one and a half hour to reach the highest mountain in the world. With the images of the special camera a precise 3-D model of the region around Mount Everest will be produced, in which, according to DLR, even small objects of only 15 centimeters size are visible. The model shall be useful for disaster protection and rescue operations. The video of the DLR awakens wanderlust. Check it out for yourself:

Date

5. February 2014 | 17:15

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