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with Stefan Nestler

Milestone on El Capitan

They did it: Caldwell (l.) and Jorgeson

They did it: Caldwell (l.) and Jorgeson

A milestone in the granite of El Capitan in Yosemite! After 19 days the US climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson reached the top of the extremely difficult, about 900-meter-high Dawn Wall after having climbed it free for the first time. They made climbing history. “I hope it inspires people to find their own Dawn Wall, if you will. We’ve been working on this thing a long time, slowly and surely”, 30-year-old Jorgesan said according to the New York Times. “I think everyone has their own secret Dawn Wall to complete one day, and maybe they can put this project in their own context.” As reported, it had taken Kevin seven days alone to master the extremely difficult 15th of 32 pitches of the route. “I think the larger audience’s conception is that we’re thrill seekers out there for an adrenaline rush. We really aren’t at all. It’s about spending our lives in these beautiful places and forming these incredible bonds”, 36-year-old Caldwell said. “For me, I love to dream big, and I love to find ways to be a bit of an explorer.” Tommy is climbing with only nine full fingers.

Date

15. January 2015 | 11:28

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Hats off to Caldwell and Jorgeson!

Tommy Caldwell (l.) in the Dawn Wall

Tommy Caldwell (l.) in the Dawn Wall

It’s easy to jump on a train that is already standing in the station. However, the climbing train of Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson is still rolling. Pull by pull by pull towards the summit of the legendary granite rock El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. Since 27 December, for two weeks and a half now, the two Americans climb and hang in the 900-meter-high, mostly vertical, partly overhanging “Dawn Wall” – so named, because the South-East face of El Cap catches the first sunrays in the morning. Caldwell and Jorgeson are well on the way to free climbing the extremely challenging big wall for the first time. Means: They only use ropes, bolts, nuts or friends to avoid falling, not for climbing. Actually, don’t count your chickens before they hatch. But in this special case I do it and and take my hat off to Tommy and Kevin by now.

Date

14. January 2015 | 13:59

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Many question marks before spring season on Everest

South side of Everest

South side of Everest

The same procedure on Everest as every year? Probably not, but a reliable forecast is difficult. “There seem to be less people on expeditions and also less people trekking in Nepal”, the New Zealander Russell Brice replies to my question which influence the avalanche disaster on Good Friday 2014 and the subsequent end of all great expeditions on Everest south side will have on this year’s spring season on the highest mountain in the world. “It seems that more people want to go to North side, and less people to South side”, says the head of the expedition operator Himalayan Experience. However, Brice withdrew his tendered Everest expedition in Tibet and decided to just operate on the south side this year.

Date

9. January 2015 | 15:52

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(Mountain) Female power from Nepal

Maya, Dawa Yangzum, Pasang Lhamu (f.l.)

Maya, Dawa Yangzum, Pasang Lhamu (f.l.)

They are a powerful trio on the mountain: On 26 July 2014, Dawa Yangzum Sherpa, Maya Sherpa and Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita were the first women from Nepal, who reached the 8611-meter-high summit of K2 in Pakistan. The second highest mountain in the world is also called “Savage Mountain” due to the difficulty of ascent and the high fatality rate. “We were the first Nepalese women on K 2! And it was not easy climbing this moutain. Only real climbers know how and why we climbed K 2”, Dawa Yangzum writes to me. Mountaineers had appreciated their performance in an appropriate way. They did not expect that from the Nepalese government anyway: “Mostly, the government, the ministry and all these people just know Everest and the Seven Summits. If we had climbed the Seven Summits, they would have made us a front page news”, says the 25-year-old. The government is in Dawa Yangzum’s bad books anyway.

Date

7. January 2015 | 17:36

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Happy New Year!

SilvesterfeuerwerkI wish you all a Happy New Year 2015 – full of adventures, whether in the mountains or somewhere else!

Date

1. January 2015 | 0:00

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I wish you a …

Christmas

Date

24. December 2014 | 15:26

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Climbers’ crowdfunding for winter expeditions

K-2-SponsoringIs it just a coincidence or already a trend? The K 2 winter expedition of Denis Urubko and Italian climber Daniele Nardi’s to Nanga Parbat use crowdfunding on the Internet to get more money for the expedition budget. Anyone who had ever to write his fingers to the bone to raise money for an expedition, will understand that now climbers too choose this form of financing that was born in the digital age.

Date

17. December 2014 | 16:50

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Participate! #welovemountains

Logo-IMDDid you already notice? Today is “International Mountain Day” (IMD). It is likely to be similarly far-reaching as the “World Migratory Bird Day” (that is celebrated over two days: on 9 and 10 May, probably to let the migratory birds pass the date line), similarly exciting as the “World Post Day” (9 October) or as popular as the “International Day to End Obstetric Fistula” (23 May).

Date

11. December 2014 | 15:05

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Moro: “Winter climbs are pure exploration”

Simone Moro, in Cologne

Simone Moro, in Cologne

This man can not keep his hands off winter climbing. Simone Moro has already made three first winter ascents of eight-thousanders: Shishapangma (in 2005), Makalu (2009) and Gasherbrum II (2011). “I did twelve expeditions in winter”, the 47-year-old climber from Italy tells me when I meet him in my home town of Cologne. “In total, a lot of months.” I am curious about his new plan:

Simone, you have spent most of the last winters at eight-thousanders? What’s about the coming winter?

I am preparing a new project that is still secret. Not because I have something to hide but just because I am waiting for the climbing permit. At the beginning of the winter I had an idea, then I didn’t get the permit by the Chinese. So I had to change my plan. That is the reason why I don’t want to announce it before I’m one hundred percent sure. What I can tell you: I will start already in 2015, quite late, but still in winter.

What can you reveal? Will it be an eight-thousander? There were rumors that you would try the first winter ascent of Mount Everest from the north side.

Date

2. December 2014 | 12:19

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Marietta Uhden is dead

Marietta Uhden (1968-2014)

Marietta Uhden (1968-2014)

One of the best German female climbers has passed away. Marietta Uhden died of cancer at the age of 46 years during the night from Sunday to Monday. She had fought against the dreadful disease for years. Born in Munich, Marietta did gymnastics during her childhood. She was already 20 years old when she began sport climbing. The successes came quickly. In 1993, Uhden won her first of twelve German championships (ten in lead, two in bouldering). She became bronze medalist (lead) at the World Championships 1997 and, in 2000, the first German female sports climber who won the Boulder World Cup. In 2005, the “Steffi Graf of German sport climbing”, as Marietta was once called, ended her competitive career and turned to rock climbing again. “I love to go climbing out in nature,  to get along with a few things and to spend the night in the open”, Uhden then said in an interview. She set standards in rock climbing too: for instance in 2001, when she was the first woman worldwide to open a new route in the eleventh degree of difficulty (US 5.14b): “Sun in the Heart” in the Bavarian Alps. Marietta leaves behind her husband and a nearly five year old daughter. R.I.P.

Date

26. November 2014 | 12:38

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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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