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At least twelve killed in avalanche on Everest

Dangerous Khumbu Icefall

Dangerous Khumbu Icefall

The spring season on Everest begins with a disaster. On the Nepalese south side of the mountain, an avalanche has hit the Khumbu Icefall. “Around 25 persons were swept away by the avalanche”, a spokesman of the Nepalese Ministry of Tourism said. “We have rescued eight alive, and 12 bodies have been recovered so far.” Four Sherpas were still missing. Climbers from six expeditions were caught in the avalanche. Due to other reports, all victims were Sherpas who were fixing the route route through the labyrinth of ice when the avalanche went off at an altitude of about 5800 meters.

The dangerous passage is called “popcorn field” because there are so many ice blocks of collapsed seracs or out of ice avalanches. This spring, some 300 climbers from 28 expeditions have pitched their tents on the south side of Mount Everest.

By now it is the worst avalanche disaster in the history of Mount Everest. In 1922, on the Tibetan north side of Mount Everest seven Sherpas were killed in an avalanche. In 1970 within days seven Sherpas lost their lives in the Khumbu Icefall.

Date

18. April 2014 | 13:05

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Ralf Dujmovits: Mount Everest, take six!

Ralf Dujmovits and Mount Everest (in 2012)

Ralf Dujmovits and Mount Everest (in 2012)

How could the Portuguese explorer Fernando Magellan see so many campfires at the southern tip of South America in 1520 that he named the region “Tierra del Fuego”? Actually, the typical constant rain there should have extinguished any flame. During their expedition to Monte Sarmiento in Tierra del Fuego Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, Ralf Dujmovits, Ralf Gantzhorn and Rainer Pircher had only two half days without rain. Furthermore wind speeds up to 150 kilometers per hour at a height of 1800 meters. Thus the plan failed to climb the main summit of the 2246-meter-high, pyramid-shaped mountain via the North Face. In addition to bad weather the team had bad luck. A snow cave at 1600 meters, where the climbers had deposited their gear during their first attempt, had disappeared, when they climbed up for the second time.

Date

14. April 2014 | 23:45

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Goettler is going to climb Mount Everest

David Goettler(© The North Face)

David Goettler(© The North Face)

That was a short home leave. Just one month after his return from Nanga Parbat David Goettler has packed his bags again. His goal this spring: Mount Everest. “To climb Everest via the normal route without supplemental oxygen is challenging enough. That would be interesting”, David had told me last August when I had asked him whether the highest mountain in the world was an attractive goal for him. Now the 35-year-old climber is putting this project into action. He wants to climb Everest via the normal route on the Nepalese south side of the mountain, David writes me while trekking from Lukla to Namche Bazaar. “Without bottled oxygen and high porters.” I want to know whether he is a member of a team. “I and 600 others … ;-)”, replies Goettler. “As a team, I have only myself !”

Date

10. April 2014 | 14:21

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Luis, last minute

Makalu

Makalu

In one point it is the same for mountaineers who want to climb an eight-thousander and for everyday travellers: Shortly before departure the dates are accumulating. They have to pave the way for their long absence in their jobs, meet friends and family and – last but not least – make the last preparations for the upcoming project. That applies to Luis Stitzinger, too. We met last weekend in Oberstdorf in the Alpes, the day before Luis’ departure to Nepal. The 45-year-old German and his wife Alix von Melle want to climb again Makalu, at the height of 8485 meters the fifth highest mountain in the world. In 2010, the couple had to turn back on 8050 meters at temperatures of minus 45 degrees Celsius. Alix and Luis have already climbed six eight-thousanders: Cho Oyu, Gasherbrum II, Nanga Parbat, Dhaulagiri, Broad Peak and Shishapangma, all without using bottled oxygen. This makes the 43-year-old Alix the most successful German women at the highest mountains in the world.

Date

7. April 2014 | 14:34

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Huber brothers try to climb Latok I North Face

Alexander Huber

Alexander Huber

2013 was an unusual year for Alexander Huber. The younger of the two Huber brothers was not on expedition, in contrast to his brother Thomas. Instead, the 45-year-old climber published a book (there is no English version yet), in which Alexander commits to fear as open as probably no climber did before. I met him at Leverkusen near my hometown of Cologne where he was holding a lecture. 

Alexander, when will we see you on expedition again?

The next expedition is coming soon. By mid-June we will start to the Karakoram. Let’s see what will happen.

Do you reveal your plan?

Date

2. April 2014 | 13:06

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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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