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with Stefan Nestler

Auer: “Clif bar has the right to take its choice, but why now?”

clif-barA little danger is good for business, but not too much. So the decision of the US company Clif Bar can be summarized to stop the sponsoring of the top climbers Alex Honnold, Dean Potter, Steph Davis, Cedar Wright and Timmy O’Neill. “Over a year ago, we started having conversations internally about our concerns with B.A.S.E. jumping, highlining and free-soloing”, Clif bar said. “We concluded that these forms of the sport are pushing boundaries and taking the element of risk to a place where we as a company are no longer willing to go.” In the climbing scene, the decision of the energy bar manufacturer has triggered an intense debate about how much influence sponsors may have.

Date

25. November 2014 | 10:40

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Alix von Melle: Next exit Everest?

Alix von Melle on Makalu

Alix von Melle on Makalu

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.

Date

18. November 2014 | 10:54

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Prolonged Everest permits for groups only?

South side of Mount Everest

South side of 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.

Date

13. November 2014 | 23:37

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Martin Maier: “Everything seemed surreal”

Martin Maier

Martin Maier

Survived! On 24 September, Martin Maier was swept down 600 meters by an avalanche on the eight-thousander Shispapangma in Tibet. It was not only his friend Benedikt Boehm who called it a “small miracle”, that the 39-year-old climber from Munich did not die. The avalanche had released not far below the summit. The German ski mountaineer Sebastian Haag and the Italian Andrea Zambaldi were also caught by the avalanche and, in contrast to Maier, buried by the masses of snow. Both climbers died. Boehm and the Swiss Ueli Steck were just able to rescue themselves, when the entire slope began to slip off.

Martin Maier is recovering slowly but surely from the injuries he suffered in the accident. The engineer is not a professional climber, but has already gained a lot of experience on expeditions, inter alia to the Patagonian ice cap and to some 6000ers in South America. In 2012, he climbed the 8163-meter-high Manaslu in Nepal, the eighth highest mountain in the world. Martin told me his really incredible story of survival on Shishapangma:

Martin, how are you doing now?

I still have to struggle with many aftermaths of the avalanche and the whole tragedy, with my injuries that are yet to cure. And then of course there are always the thoughts with the friends who have died.

Date

10. November 2014 | 16:54

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Instant Everest

Trekking the Annapurna Circuit

Trekking the Annapurna Circuit

A characteristic of our time is that nobody has time – or does not take his time. That affects mountain tourism too. For years, German operators note a decreasing interest in expeditions that take 50 or even 60 days. Simultaneously, more climbers tend to book trips for which they need only 30 leave days. In other words, expeditions to 7000ers are booming, those to 8000ers are ailing. Apparently, the trend “the shorter, the better” also applies to trekking. Experts in Nepal have called to change with the times by offering shorter treks. They said that an increasing number of trekking tourists in Nepal were coming from China and Southeast Asian countries – and those trekkers simply had not time for a three-week trip on the Annapurna circuit or to trek to Everest base camp.

Date

6. November 2014 | 0:29

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A mountain, two routes and a little anger

Hagshu (north face in the sun, to the left of it the north east face)

Hagshu (north face in the sun, to the left of it the north east face)

This does not happen often. Within days top climbers from Slovenia and the UK opened two challenging new routes on a shapely 6000-meter-peak in the Indian Himalayas. The 6515-meter-high Hagshu is located in the district of Kishtwar in the crisis-hit region of Kashmir. The Slovenians Marko Prezelj, Luka Lindic and Ales Cesen reached the summit on 30 September, after they had climbed for the first time through the steep north face of Hagshu. Then the Britons Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden opened a new route via the previously unclimbed north east face and stood at the top of the mountain on 6 October.

Date

29. October 2014 | 16:30

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The litany of the (Everest) ladder

Mount Everest (from Kala Pattar)

Mount Everest (from Kala Pattar)

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.”

Date

24. October 2014 | 14:15

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Well under drugs is half way up?

DopingprobeMountaineering 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.

Date

20. October 2014 | 15:24

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Boehm: “The entire slope began to move”

Benedikt Boehm

Benedikt Boehm

Time is relative, depending on how you feel about it. Already three weeks ago? Only three weeks? This is the length of time that has passed since the avalanche on the eight-thousander Shishapangma in Tibet. On 24 September, the German ski mountaineer Sebastian Haag and the Italian Andrea Zambaldi died in an avalanche that released not far below the summit. Martin Maier, who was also swept away by the masses of snow, survived. Benedikt Boehm and the Swiss Ueli Steck were able to escape the avalanche. I call Benedict at home in Munich.

Benedict, it’s now three weeks since the avalanche on Shishapangma went down. Have you been able to come to terms with the accident?

No, not really. Immediately after the avalanche, I was involved with the rescue of Martin Maier, who had survived the avalanche as if by magic. It took two days, then we headed back home. Now I am busy again in my incredibly wonderful life that I am able to live here. As the manager of a relatively large sports brand, there are many tasks to complete, if you’ve been away for so long. That does not leave much time to come to rest. I had this time only during a couple of hours doing sports in the mountain early in the morning or late in the evening.

Date

17. October 2014 | 15:53

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Steck: “It was eerie”

Ueli Steck

Ueli Steck

Ueli Steck has done his share to lift the fog that formed around the avalanche on the eight-thousander Shishapangma one and a half week ago. Benedikt Boehm and he were a little bit higher on the slope, when suddenly a snow slab released and swept down the three climbers below us, Sebastian Haag, Andrea Zambaldi and Martin Maier, said Ueli in Kathmandu in an interview with the Swiss newspaper “Sonntagszeitung”. The snow slab released almost silently. It was eerie. Maier was able to dig himself out. He had no serious injuries, was able to descent and meet the rescue team. He is in Germany now.

All attempts to enter the avalanche area and search for the buried climbers Haag and Zambaldi were unsuccessful. It was too risky. We would have caused new avalanches, Steck said. “Finally, we had to descend. In desperation you must not make mistakes that can jeopardize other people.

Date

5. October 2014 | 22:12

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Death and record on Manaslu

Manaslu

Manaslu

It is not far from triumph to tragedy on eight-thousanders. That was demonstrated on Manaslu these days. On Friday, the Japanese Yoshimasa Sasaki fell about 25 meters after slipping on blue ice at 7,300 meters. The 59-year-old died. Sasaki had climbed the eight-thousander Cho Oyu in 2003. Last weekend more than 30 climbers reached the summit of Manaslu, the eight highest mountain in the world, including the Polish ski mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel. The 26-year-old said that he needed only 14 hours and five minutes for his speed ascent, just an hour less than the German Benedikt Boehm in fall 2012. After having skied down the most parts of the route, Andrzej reached the Base Camp 21 hours and 14 minutes after his departure. Two years ago, Bene had needed a total of 23.5 hours for ascent and ski descent.

Date

29. September 2014 | 15:49

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In memoriam Basti Haag

Basti Haag (1979-2014)

Basti Haag (1979-2014)

No, I didn’t really know Sebastian Haag. I met him only once – as we sometimes do in the mountaineering scene. It was a year ago, at the International Mountain Summit (IMS) in Brixen (Bressanone) in South Tyrol. At that time he and Benedikt Boehm reported on their experiences at the eight-thousander Manaslu in Nepal: On 22. September 2012, an avalanche had hit two high camps at about 6000 meters. Eleven climbers had been killed. Bene and Basti were lucky because, due to a disquieting feeling, they had pitched their tent far away from the others. After the accident the two Germans had rescued several injured climbers. In October 2013 in Brixen, we talked about the risks that Basti took as an extreme athlete. “There are moments in which you have to switch off your brain, and others in which you have to switch it on”, said Basti. “Of course something can happen to us, like to anyone else. Nobody is immune, no matter how cautious you are. And if you’re too cautious, you have to stay at home, climb the Zugspitze or take part in the Munich City marathon.”

Date

26. September 2014 | 15:38

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Avalanche on Shisha Pangma kills two climbers

ButterlampenI am shocked. During the expedition at Shisha Pangma (8.013m) in the morning of September 24th an avalanche accident happened. The Double8 expedition team around Benedikt Boehm, Sebastian Haag and Andrea Zambaldi were ascending towards summit when the accident occurred. The team mates Sebastian Haag and Andrea Zambaldi felt victim to the avalanche. This is the message that Benedikt Boehm sent from basecamp:

„In the afternoon of 23.09.2014 at 16:30, Benedikt Boehm (37) and Ueli Steck (38) started from Basecamp (5.600m) the speed ascent on Shisha Pangma 8013m. The plan was to reach the summit in the morning of the 24.09.2014, together with the team mates Sebastian Haag (36), who was starting from Camp 1 (6.300m) as well as Martin Maier (40) and Andrea Zambaldi (32) who were starting from Camp 2 (6.800m).

Date

25. September 2014 | 17:22

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Breaking news: Avalanche on Shishapagma, two climbers missed

Three climbers of the Double8 Expedition were hit by an avalanche at 7,900 meters yesterday. Sebastian Haag and Andrea Zambaldi were buried and could not be found, the German home team of the expedition said. More details later.

Date

25. September 2014 | 16:22

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Climber as victim of terrorism

Herve-GourdelClimbers are no couch potatoes. We are travelling worldwide to pursue our hobby. Or should I say our passion? Sadly, some get caught in the crossfire. Yesterday, there was the shocking news that Algerian jihadists affiliated with the IS group had beheaded the French mountain guide Hervé Gourdel. The 55-year-old lived in the mountain village of Saint-Martin-Vesubie in the French Maritime Alps. He was spending his holidays in the 2,000-meter-high Djurdjura range in northern Algeria, when he was kidnapped last Sunday.

Date

25. September 2014 | 16:18

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