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Adventure Sports

with Stefan Nestler

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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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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