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with Stefan Nestler

Albert Precht fell to death

Albert Precht (1947-2015)

Albert Precht (1947-2015)

Austria is mourning another of its great climbers. On Friday – the day when in Linz Edi Koblmueller was buried, who had frozen to death on a ski tour in GeorgiaAlbert Precht died in a climbing accident in Crete. The 67-year-old and his 68-year-old longtime climbing partner Robert Joelli fell to death, when they were climbing the Kapsa Wall in the Pervolakia Gorge. The cause of the accident is still unclear. Precht had traveled with his wife and friends from his hometown Bischofshofen to the Greek island where he regularly spent climbing holidays for years.

Date

10. May 2015 | 14:53

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Ghostly silence where once was hubbub

Destroyed house in Sangachok

Destroyed house in Sangachok

Ralf Dujmovits is shocked. “I have rarely seen something so depressing and sad”, says Germany’s most successful high altitude mountaineer when he calls me from Kathmandu. He has just returned from an all-day trip to Sindhupalchowk District, about 80 kilometers northeast of the capital. There was no other district in Nepal where the devastating earthquake two weeks ago killed more people than in Sindhupalchowk. So far, the government has registered there more than 3,000 dead – at a total of more than 7,900 fatalities throughout Nepal.

Date

9. May 2015 | 21:13

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Matthias Baumann (currently in Nepal): “Organized chaos”

Matthias Baumann in the hospital of Dhulikhel

Matthias Baumann (r.) in the hospital of Dhulikhel

He did not hesitate. When the first reports on the devastating earthquake in Nepal came in, the German doctor and climber Matthias Baumann packed his stuff. The trauma surgeon from the town of Tuebingen flew to the disaster area in order to help. For more than a week, the 43-year-old worked in a hospital in the mountain town of Dhulikhel, 25 kilometers east of the capital Kathmandu. Before he will fly home on Sunday, he wants to make another trip to the countryside to get an overview about the situation there and to help wherever he can.

Matthias, you have now been in Nepal for one and a half week. How long did you work each day?

We started in the morning at 8 a.m. with a meeting of all senior doctors and nurses. We discussed what was needed at the hospital and at the ambulance stations in the countryside. Then we got going. There were no prescribed working hours. Everyone worked as long as he was able to do so. Mostly I left the hospital at 10 or 11 p.m.

Date

8. May 2015 | 14:06

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Everest permits here and there

Nepalese south side of Mount Everest

Nepalese south side of Mount Everest

The Base Camps on both sides of Mount Everest have got empty eleven days after the devastating earthquake in Nepal. The climbers are on their way back. What about their permits, after they could not even make a single attempt to climb the highest mountain on earth? In Nepal, the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC) has requested the government to extend this year’s permits until 2016.

Date

6. May 2015 | 15:50

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Tragedy in Langtang Village

What was formerly Langtang village

What was formerly Langtang Village

The first videos showing the disaster area provide pure horror: An entire village as erased. Except for a single house, standing directly at the slope of the mountain and being protected by an overhanging rock, a huge mudslide has destroyed or buried all buildings in Langtang Village. Until the earthquake ten days ago, about 200 people had been living in the village at about 3,500 meters, located on the very popular trekking route through the Langtang Valley. Hardly anyone survived. Around 100 bodies have been recovered, among the dead are also foreign tourists.

Date

5. May 2015 | 15:52

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Free return flight from Tibet for all Sherpas?

The Potala Palace in Lhasa

The Potala Palace in Lhasa

China shows its friendly face. For 10 May, the Chinese government is planning “to provide a charter flight free of charge form Lhasa to Kathmandu for all Sherpas – not just for Climbing Sherpas, but also for cooks and kitchen helpers”, Ralf Dujmovits wrote to me calling it “a generous gesture” – despite  the expected propaganda of the Chinese. The most successful German mountaineer arrived in Lhasa, like many other western climbers who were on expedition in Tibet. “The China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA) generously bears the costs of transport to Lhasa, accommodation and meals. And they take care of the visa formalities for the stranded climbers coming from all Tibetan peaks”, the 53-year-old said.

Date

4. May 2015 | 14:52

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Bullheads or ignorant? Probably both

Everest Base Camp

Everest Base Camp

A few climbers are incorrigible. „I wish it was all so simple, but I am afraid not. I still have expedition members who call me to say that they have not experienced any death, or any disadvantage and that it is my responsibility to continue climbing“, Russell Brice, head of the New Zealand expedition operator Himalayan Experience, wrote in his newsletter from Everest Base Camp on the Nepalese side of Mount Everest. On Friday, Brice had abandoned all Himex expeditions in Nepal: Now having considered all facts, I can tell you that we will not be continuing any of our ascents in Nepal this season.“

Date

3. May 2015 | 15:54

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Difficult way back

 

My heart is in Nepal

My heart is in Nepal

Although a few teams still stay at the Base Camp on the Nepalese side of Mount Everest, the spring climbing season in Nepal seems to be de facto as good as finished. Whether on Everest or the eight-thousanders Makalu, Annapurna and Dhaulagiri, the majority of climbers have packed up and made their way back. In Tibet, where the Chinese authorities forbade any further mountain activities on the eight-thousanders, the expedition leaders are organizing the return home of their climbers via Lhasa and Beijing instead of the otherwise usual way back via Kathmandu. The departure by land to Nepal is currently not possible.

Date

1. May 2015 | 10:49

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Climbing Everest this spring? Please don’t!

Rescue after Saturday's avalanche triggered from Pumori

Rescue after Saturday’s avalanche triggered from Pumori

Business as usual on Mount Everest very soon after the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal? The government of Nepal seems to be determined to continue the climbing season on the highest mountain on earth despite the chaotic situation all over the country. “The ladders (on the route through the Khumbu Icefall) will be repaired in the next two to three days and climbing will continue, there is no reason for anyone to quit their expeditions,” tourism department chief Tulsi Gautam told the French news agency AFP. Gyanendra Shrestha, another official of the Nepalese Tourism Ministry confirmed: “We have not called off the expeditions. A couple of teams have told us they still want to go ahead.” If the route from Base Camp to Camp 2 is restored, teams who want to can attempt the climb, he said. “Adventure is like that”, Shrestha said. “It is full of the unknown. You have to be safe on your own. The government can’t prevent disasters.”

Date

30. April 2015 | 16:34

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Everest season in Tibet is finished

North side of Everest

North side of Everest

First of all:  Compared to the suffering in Nepal after the earthquake of last Saturday – now more than 5,000 deaths and 10,000 injuries have been counted – it seems almost insignificant what is happening on the Tibetan north side of Mount Everest. But I also give reports on the consequences of the terrible tragedy in Nepal for the climbers in the region – and there are still several hundred mountaineers in Tibet, including many Sherpas from Nepal. All will go home now. Whether they like it or not, they have to. “It’s official: Everest is closed for this season”, expedition leader Dominik Mueller, head of the German operator Amical alpin, writes from “Chinese Base Camp” on the north side of Mount Everest. Yesterday Mueller had abandoned his expedition, one day before the decisive meeting of the expedition leaders with representatives of the China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA) in Base Camp at 5,150 meters.

Date

29. April 2015 | 16:33

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Breaking news: Season on Everest north side is over

North side of Mount Everest

North side of Mount Everest

“It’s official: Tibetan north side of Everest is closed for this spring season”, reports expedition leader Dominik Mueller, head of the German operator Amical alpin, from Chinese Basecamp. There was a last decisive meeting between the expedition leaders and Chinese officials this morning. Other climbers confirm the end of the season. More details later.

Date

29. April 2015 | 13:33

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Dominik Mueller: “We are in limbo”

North side of Everest

North side of Everest

He cannot just carry on as if nothing had happened, says Dominik Mueller. The head of the German expedition operator Amical alpin today abandoned his expedition on the Tibetan north side of Mount Everest – after consultation with his clients, who according to Dominik also did not want to continue. “When I look in the faces of our cook, the kitchen boys and all the other Sherpas here, I cannot climb on in good conscience”, Dominik tells me by phone from the “Chinese Base Camp” at 5,150 meters, where according to his estimate are still 250 to 300 climbers and staff. The team’s cook has lost his house in Kathmandu, many others have not even been able to contact their families. “We can not sit here on a beautiful island and make for love, peace and harmony while there are thousands of deaths around us.”

Date

28. April 2015 | 18:58

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Rescue on Everest completed

Pilots in continous operation

Pilots in continous operation

All climbers from the high camps on Mount Everest are safe. In the morning the last 17 climbers, who had been stranded at Camp 1 at 6,100 meters, nine Sherpas and eight foreigners, were flown down to the valley by helicopter. An official of the Nepalese Tourism Ministry said, more than 200 climbers had been rescued on Everest. It was the most extensive rescue operation in the history of high altitude mountaineering. According to department reports, at least 19 climbers, including five foreign nationals, have been confirmed dead in two avalanches. It seems that this figure also includes three Sherpas who reportedly died in the Khumbu Icefall during an aftershock on Sunday.

Date

28. April 2015 | 10:21

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Many question marks after the earthquake

Rescue on Everest

Rescue on Everest

Day three after the devastating earthquake in Nepal: The death toll in the country has risen to almost 4,000, and it is continuously increasing. An end of the bad news is not in sight. Still information focusses on the most heavily hit capital Kathmandu and the region around Mount Everest. From the other regions of the country, messages are barely trickling in. German trekkers report that debris flows also occured on the Annapurna Circuit on Saturday. Many trekkers are reportedly waiting on their way around the eight-thousander Manaslu for being evacuated by helicopter. The base camp at the foot of Annapurna was hit by an avalanche on Saturday. “It just about buried us in our tents, we had to use our knives to cut our way out. After that, myself and two sherpas had to do a rescue of a teammate”, Canadian mountaineer Al Hancock said.

Helicopter airlift

At Mount Everest, the rescue of the climbers, who were stranded at Camp 1 above 6,000 meters, is standing just before the end. Only 15 mountaineers are still waiting to be flown to the valley by helicopter. All Monday long, there was an  airlift to Camp 1, where initially about 150 climbers had been cut off from descent. Continously the helicopters started and landed. The “Icefall Doctors” have stopped their work on the route through the Khumbu Icefall for fear of aftershocks. Reportedly, three Sherpas died in the ice labyrinth during an aftershock on Sunday. It is still not clear how many climbers were killed in Everest Basecamp by the huge avalanche from Pumori, that was triggered by the earthquake on Saturday. Figures currently vary from 16 to 19. German climber Jost Kobusch survived. The 22-year-old took this video of the avalanche:

Stop on the Tibetan north side of Everest?

North side of Everest

North side of Everest

The situation on the Tibetan north side of Mount Everest is unclear too. The official news agency Xinhua reports that China has cancelled all expeditions this spring. Xinhua relies on a high-ranking official who said that more aftershocks were expected next month. Today, Chinese officials discussed with the expedition leaders in “Chinese Base Camp”. According to my information, there will be another meeting on Tuesday morning. The German couple Alix von Melle and Luis Stitzinger has abandoned their Everest expedition on the north side on their own accord.  “We cannot turn a blind eye to the suffering thas happened (in Nepal)”, Alix and Luis write on their homepage. “Moreover, we do not want to be the reason why Nepalese helpers, cooks and Climbing Sherpas have to stay here and cannot go home to their families to see if everything is alright.”

Date

27. April 2015 | 18:36

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China reportedly (!) cancels all spring climbs on Everest

North side of Mount Everest

North side of Mount Everest

The Chinese state news agency Xinhua reports that China has stopped all expeditions on the north side of Mount Everest because of the earthquake disaster in Nepal. Still, there was no confirmation by expedition leaders. However, there were earlier reports that officials negotiated with the expedition leaders about the consequences of the earthquake for the spring season on the north side. I got the information that there will be another meeting with the authorities in Chinese Basecamp on Tuesday morning. So I’m not sure that the Xinhua report is right.

Date

27. April 2015 | 14:14

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