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Stricter rules for Everest permits?

Tourism Minister Kripasur Sherpa

Tourism Minister Kripasur Sherpa

The Nepalese government apparently wants to make sure that Mount Everest is taken seriously again. Speaking at an event in Kathmandu on the occasion of the World Tourism Day on Sunday, Tourism Minister Kripasur Sherpa said that new age limits and other more stringent conditions on granting permits for Everest expeditions were in preparation. It is considered to allow only climbers aged between 18 and 75 to climb the highest mountain on earth.

Date

28. September 2015 | 16:19

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Kuriki turns around on Everest

Nobukazu Kuriki

Nobukazu Kuriki

It would have been a real bang. And probably the headline was already prepared: “Historical Everest climb with only one complete finger”. But this headline will be put away in a drawer until further notice. Nobukazu Kuriki has abandoned his first summit attempt on Everest. “I tried hard taking all my energy, but it took too much time to move in the deep snow”, the 33-year-old Japanese tweeted. “I realised if I kept going, I wouldn’t be able to come back alive.” It is still unclear how high exactly he climbed. According to his GPS signal messenger, he did not reach the South Col. Kuriki had made his “last Camp”, as he wrote, at about 7,700 meters, at about the level of the Geneva Spur, 200 meters below the South Col. From there, it would have been a real marathon stage up to the 8,850-meter-high summit – in particular because the Japanese was climbing solo above Camp 2, not using bottled oxygen, and the route was neither prepared nor secured with fixed ropes.

Date

27. September 2015 | 15:40

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40 years ago: Everest Southwest Face first climbed

Everest Southwest Face

Everest Southwest Face

“Everything was said 40 years ago. Nothing has changed.” Doug Scott was tight-lipped when I asked him last spring about the British Everest Southwest Face Expedition in 1975. Late on 24 September, today exactly 40 years ago, Doug and his team comrade Dougal Haston, had reached the summit of Mount Everest after they had first climbed the more than 2000-meter-high, extremely difficult rock wall. After their summit success Scott and Haston survived a bivouac at 8760 meters. Their first climb of the Southwest Face was a milestone in Himalayan climbing, one of the “last big problems” was solved. Five expeditions had failed before, among them a British one in 1972.

Date

24. September 2015 | 0:00

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People like Mahesh

Mahesh Kumar Budha

Mahesh Kumar Budha

It is far from easy to survive in the highly competitive tourism market in Nepal. Under normal circumstances, but all the more after the earthquake last spring. There are hundreds of trekking and expedition agencies in Kathmandu that compete to get any clients. Most of them are small companies, and the owners often live from hand to mouth. Small entrepreneurs like my friend Mahesh Kumar Budha suffer most from the economic consequences of the earthquake. The government estimates that the tourism market has slumped by 50 percent, local operators assume that it is up to 70 percent.

Date

18. September 2015 | 7:00

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Dominik Mueller: “I feel absolutely safe”

Manaslu, "Mountain of the Spirit"

Manaslu, “Mountain of the Spirit”

The 8,136-meter-high Manaslu is probably the only mountain in Nepal, where currently almost everything is as usual in fall. “We have about 15 expeditions here, many of them small teams”, Dominik Mueller tells me by satellite phone from the about 4,800-meter-high Manaslu Base Camp in western Nepal. “All in all we have probably 120 to 130 summit aspirants.” Dominik is leading an expedition of his German operator Amical alpin, along with the mountain guide Rainer Pircher. The other members are ten clients, three Climbing Sherpas, a cook and four kitchen helpers. The Base Camp is not too crowded, says Dominik. “We have found a very nice place for our tents.” On Wednesday, the puja will be held, the traditional Buddhist ceremony to get the gods’ blessings for the climbers. Some expeditions – such as the group of Himalayan Experience that is led by the New Zealander Russell Brice – have been on the mountain for a while already.

Date

15. September 2015 | 19:36

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Avalanche on Dôme de Neige kills seven climbers

Dôme de Neige (r.)

Dôme de Neige (r.)

Seven climbers have lost their lives in an avalanche in the French Alps today. The incident happened on the 4015-meter-high Dôme de Neige in the Écrins massif southeast of Grenoble. The French authorities said that four Germans and three Czechs died in the avalanche. Another injured female climber from Germany was rescued. It is said that three rope teams were hit by the snow masses. According to the rescuers, the 250-meter-long avalanche was likely triggered when a snow slab separated and hurtled down the slope. Last weekend it had heavily snowed in the region. “The conditions are winter-like at the moment“, a policeman said. At least 39 people have died in snowslides this year in France, according to the National Association for the Study of Snow and Avalanches.

Date

15. September 2015 | 16:48

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Dawa Steven Sherpa: “Ke garne! We carry on!”

Dawa Steven Sherpa

Dawa Steven Sherpa

There is a jinx on it. Two spring seasons on Everest in a row remained without summit successes (I ignore those of the Wang Jing team in 2014 because they were flown by helicopter to the high camp). In 2014, all commercial expeditions were cancelled after an avalanche had killed 16 Nepalese climbers in Khumbu Icefall. This year, the devastating earthquake in Nepal triggered an avalanche from the seven-thousander Pumori hitting Everest Base Camp and killing 19 mountaineers and support staff. Once again the spring season ended before it had really begun. What does this mean for the Sherpa people?

I called Dawa Steven Sherpa. Along with his father Ang Tshering Sherpa, the president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA), the 31-year-old is managing “Asian Trekking”, a Kathmandu-based leading operator for expeditions and trekkings in the Himalayas. Dawa Steven scaled Everest twice (in 2007 and 2008) and in addition the eight-thousanders Cho Oyu (2006) and Lhotse (2009). Under his expedition leadership more than 150 climbers have summited Everest. But Dawa Steven is also a tireless fighter for environmental and climate protection in the Himalayas. Furthermore he is leading “Resilient Homes”  , a project of the “Himalayan Climate Initiative” to help earthquake-affected communities to rebuild their houses and other buildings – one more reason to talk to him about the current situation in Nepal.

Date

9. September 2015 | 14:45

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Demolition of school has begun

The school in Thulosirubari has to be demolished

The school in Thulosirubari is going to be demolished

It was simply too dangerous. In the village of Thulosirubari in the Nepalese earthquake zone, residents and helpers of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have begun to remove the debris of the school. The building that was heavily damaged by the quake on 25 April “stands dangerously on the side of the ground where children use to play”, Arjun Gatraj, chairman of the School Management Committee, writes to me. As reported, the ground floor of the “Gerlinde and Ralf School” had collapsed, the building cannot be maintained. “These days, we have the big problem on how to destroy the main building and how to clear the rubble”, says Arjun. “We have no money for that ant the Government of Nepal is also not able to support us.”

Date

8. September 2015 | 14:07

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Viewed: “Everest”

Scene in the movie "Everest"The movie “Everest” works if you consume it as if you were to take a shower outside on a hot summer day: Just let the water flow, don’t think too much! Then you’ll really enjoy the 3-D dolly shots which were filmed in Nepal: for instance from above down to the suspension bridge that crosses the river Dudh Kosi in dizzy heights near Namche Bazar or the view of the Western Cwm, the “Valley of Silence”, above the Khumbu Icefall. In this case you’ll likely find the movie’s story about the disaster on Everest in 1996, when eight climbers were killed in a storm in the summit area, exciting. And you’ll probably stand up from your cinema seat after two hours with the feeling of having been well entertained and seen a cinematic well-made mountain action drama. It only becomes problematic if you take the note at the beginning of the film seriously: “Based on a true story”.

Date

4. September 2015 | 12:57

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Steck: “The only way I can help the people of Nepal”

Ueli Steck

Ueli Steck

There are only 20 days left until Ueli Steck will return to Nepal. To the country where the 38-year-old Swiss top climber in the same year celebrated his probably most spectacular success as an extreme climber as well as the greatest fear of death that had nothing to do with mountain dangers. In spring 2013, a group of angry Sherpas attacked Ueli and his teammates Simone Moro and Jonathan Griffith in Everest high camp and threatened them with death. In fall 2013, Steck reached the 8091-meter-high summit of Annapurna, the eight-thousander with the highest fatality rate: solo, via the extremely dangerous South Face, on a partly new route, as always without bottled oxygen. It took Ueli only 28 hours to climb up and down.

This summer, he proved once again that he is able to climb mountains lickety-split, when he – as reported in my blog – scaled all 82 four-thousanders of the Alps within 62 days and overcame the distance between the mountains without engine power: by hiking, cycling or paragliding. I talked to Ueli about his tour de force through the Alps – and also about his upcoming exciting project in Nepal: on Nuptse, within sight of Mount Everest.

Date

2. September 2015 | 13:00

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Mothers’ meeting on Makalu

First view on Makalu (© Adrian Ballinger/Facebook)

First view on Makalu (© Adrian Ballinger/Facebook)

“We walked into base camp, dropped our packs, threw on our down jackets, and looked up. Makalu chose that moment to expose her summit”, Adrian Ballinger wrote on Instagram after yesterday’s arrival at the foot of the fourth highest mountain on earth. “Awe is the only word to describe the feeling.” Ballinger is leading a team of US climbers that is remarkable in several respects. First, it is even the only expedition on this eight-thousander in Nepal this fall. Second, the team will try to realize the first ski descent from the 8,485-meter-high summit. And third, three of the five expedition members are women, two of them mothers, and that’s not just commonplace in high-altitude mountaineering.

Date

30. August 2015 | 10:17

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PR with a permit

Enthusiasm for Japanese climber Kuriki

Enthusiasm for Japanese climber Kuriki

The despair in Nepal must be great. There is no other explanation for the fact that the government in Kathmandu called a press conference these days only to hand out a permit for an expedition. Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki received the written permission to climb Mount Everest this fall from the hands of Tourism Minister Kripasur Sherpa. “Kuriki is climbing at a time when there is confusion in the world about the safety in Nepal after the earthquake”, the Minister said. “This will be an example for other visitors to come to Nepal which is safe for mountain climbing.” The 33-year-old Japanese climber sang the same tune: “The main purpose of my climb is to spread the message that Nepal is safe for climbers and trekkers even after the earthquake.”

Kuriki – as reported – wants to climb Everest from the Nepal side, after the Chinese authorities gave all expeditions to Tibet the cold shoulder. Today Kuriki flew from Kathmandu to the Khumbu region for acclimatization. In 2012, in his last attempt to climb Everest in fall, the Japanese had suffered severe frostbite. Nine fingers had to be amputated. Like then, Kuriki again plans to climb solo and without bottled oxygen, this time on the normal route. The “Icefall Doctors” will prepare for him the route through the Khumbu Icefall.

Date

25. August 2015 | 23:20

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Nepal now? Absolutely!

Nepal-nowThe financial aftershock is probably unavoidable. But it is important to keep the vibrations for Nepal within limits. The fall trekking season is just around the corner, and the government anticipates a dramatic 50 percent slump in tourism. “The number of foreign tourists has declined after the earthquake”, says Tourism Minister Kripasur Sherpa. “This is a heavy burden, because tourism is very important for the Nepalese economy and people.” The Government points out that international independent earthquake experts have declared the most popular trekking routes in Nepal, the Annapurna Circuit and the Everest Base Camp Trek, for nonhazardous. “Tourists don’t take higher risks any more”, says Kripasur Sherpa.

Date

20. August 2015 | 16:27

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With nine finger stumps to the top of Everest?

South side of Everest

South side of Everest

It has gone out of style to climb Mount Everest in fall. This happened even though some of the most spectacular summit successes on the highest mountain in the world have been made in the post-monsoon period: Remember only the first ascent through the Everest Southwest Face by the British Doug Scott and Dougal Haston in September 1975 or the success of the US-American Carlos Buhler, Kim Momb and Lou Reichardt via the East Face in October 1983. However, the climbing season has moved more and more into spring since commercial expeditions have taken over on Everest – due to higher temperatures compared to fall and to the usually lower risk of avalanches. Since 2000, only 36 summit successes have been recorded in September or October – next to nothing compared with over 5,000 ascents in spring since the turn of the millennium. The last ascent to the top of Everest in fall dates from five years ago: In October 2010, the American Eric Larsen and five Sherpas reached the highest point at 8,850 meters. This fall, there will be another attempt to climb Everest from the Nepalese south side. According to the “Himalayan Times” the so-called “Icefall Doctors” – a group of high specialized Sherpas – arrived at Base Camp in order to fix a route through the Khumbu Icefall.

Date

19. August 2015 | 9:55

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An unusual successful team

Gasherbrum I, also called Hidden Peak

Gasherbrum I, also called Hidden Peak

Things didn’t go well on the eight-thousanders in Karakorum this summer. “It was just too hot, and the conditions were too dangerous”, the German mountaineer Billi Bierling, who had tried unsuccessfully to climb Broad Peak, wrote to me. This mountain was scaled only twice this season: by the Argentine Mariano Galvan and Andrzej Bargiel from Poland, both climbed solo. Bargiel also succeeded in skiing down to the Base Camp. A Pakistani high altitude porter died in an avalanche.

All K 2 expeditions returned home without summit success. 13 climbers reached the highest point of Gasherbrum II. There was a fatality too: The Pole Olek Ostrowski disappeared on G II and was not found. On neighboring Gasherbrum I, so far – two Czechs are still on the mountain – just a team of three was successful, including a German mountaineer, born in my hometown Cologne.

Date

17. August 2015 | 16:01

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