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New tourist tracking system for Nepal

Mahabir Pun

Mahabir Pun

This man has a vision. “I am thinking to write about how we can make Nepal a developed country in 30 years. It is not an impossible dream and I believe that it is doable”, Mahabir Pun writes on Facebook. The 59-year-old teacher was born in Nangi, a remote mountain village in the west of Nepal. After completing his studies in the USA Mahabir returned to his home country and founded a high school in Nangi. He brought WiFi and thus also the Internet to the mountains. For his achievements Mahabir Pun has received several awards, e.g. in 2007 the Ramon Magsaysay Award which is often considered to be Asia’s Nobel Prize.

Just now Mahabir has started a new project. In the region around the 8000er Annapurna a new tourist tracking system is being tested for six months. It was developed i.a. to locate and rescue single trekkers who have got in trouble. Nearly a dozen foreign tourists have gone missing from several hiking and trekking trails in Nepal over the past decade. I wrote to Mahabir to get some more details. He replied promptly.

Mahabir, did you develop this system by yourself?

E-Networking Research & Development” is a NGO and I am the chairman. We developed this system with our Japanese partners from Japan International ICT (Information Communication Technology) Association. Hardware was developed in Japan and we worked together for its overall development.

Date

24. January 2014 | 16:37

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David Goettler: “Step by Step”

David on Nanga Parbat (© The North Face)

David on Nanga Parbat (© The North Face)

For David Goettler,  it is the first winter expedition to an eight-thousander. And then actually to Nanga Parbat! The 8125-meter-high mountain and K 2 are the only two remaining 8000ers which are unclimbed in the cold season. The 35-year-old German has teamed up with the Italians Simone Moro and Emilio Previtali. They are trying to reach the summit via the Schell route, starting on the Rupal side of Nanga Parbat. Moro did three first winter ascents of 8000ers (Shishapangma in 2005, Makalu in 2009, Gasherbrum II in 2011). I get David at basecamp where the team is recovering after a few days on the mountain.

David, how do you spend your time?

Reading, writing emails, giving interviews. In addition we are enjoying good food three times a day. Days are passing by amazingly fast. In my tent I am also doing some yoga exercises in order not to degenerate completely.

It is your first winter expedition to an eight-thousander. You have been now on Nanga Parbat for three weeks. How does it feel, everything as expected?

Date

22. January 2014 | 16:51

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Dujmovits returns to Mount Everest

Ralf Dujmovits

Ralf Dujmovits

Two weeks have passed since Ralf Dujmovits has decided to abandon his winter expedition on Nanga Parbat due to the strong risk of icefall. Two weeks to reflect on his experiences in Pakistan and also to look ahead. I call the 52-year-old German climber at home, in the town of Buehl at the foot of the Black Forest.

Ralf, what does German winter feel like, compared with winter in Pakistan, in particular on Nanga Parbat?

I stood at Frankfurt airport and then at the stations in Mannheim and Karlsruhe wearing a short-sleeved shirt, all around me people wrapped up in winter clothes. I had to get used again to the warm temperatures. We have a very warm winter in Germany, a real contrast to what we had in Pakistan. Whatever, I feel that I`m arriving also mentally and I am enjoying the warmth again.

Date

16. January 2014 | 18:25

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The other view of the 8000ers

8000ers in the Karakoram

8000ers in the Karakoram

When I was a small boy I wanted to be an astronaut. Maybe the reason was that the first moon landing in 1969 was at the same time my first television experience. Then I was six years old. In our neighbors’ house several families were jostling around a small black and white television, which was the only one in our street block. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins – the astronauts of Apollo 11 were my heroes. I dreamed of jumping over the lunar surface by myself, watching the earth as a blue ball in the distance. Until today the universe has not lost for me anything of the fascination that I already felt as a child.

The US space agency NASA is not just looking into space, but also from there to our good old earth. It has now published an article with the most important facts about the 14 eight-thousanders adding satellite images of the highest mountains. I want to share these pictures with you – to make you feel a bit like astronauts.

P.S. This time I have sorted the mountains not by altitude but by their fatality rates (look at the percentage).

Date

9. January 2014 | 11:28

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Very lucky

Way back to basecamp

Way back to basecamp

Ralf Dujmovits’ concerns were not deceptive. The day after he and his Polish companion Darek Zaluski had decided to cancel their winter expedition on the Diamir side of Nanga Parbat, they narrowly escaped an ice avalanche. The two climbers had just build down their Camp 1 at 4900 meters below the Kinshofer route and were on their descent when the avalanche went down. “We were very lucky!”, Ralf writes to me. The 52-year-old and Darek arrived in basecamp safe and sound. As reported Dujmovits had abandoned his plan to climb Nanga Parbat via the Messner route because of the high risk of ice avalanches.

Date

6. January 2014 | 18:33

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Dujmovits abandons Nanga Parbat winter expedition

Ralf is coming down

Ralf is coming down

The decision was not taken ​​lightly. “After a careful weighing up of the risks – we had climbed up the glacier in deep snow for two hours again – I have decided to abandon the expedition“, Ralf Dujmovits writes in his final report of his winter expedition to Nanga Parbat. His Polish companion Darek Zaluski is supporting the decision, says Ralf: “I had expected a certain level of risks climbing up the Diamir side in winter, especially on the Messner Route. But not these incalculable risks that I ‘m not willing to take. The serious accident on K 2 in 2008, when a part of the large serac above the bottleneck broke, was one of many examples of accidents by ice avalanches that could have been prevented.” In 2008 eleven climbers had lost their lives on the second highest mountain of the world.

Date

2. January 2014 | 19:05

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Difficult decision

Diamir face, Messner route on the right side

Diamir face, Messner route on the right side

The cloud cover has broken on Nanga Parbat. Snowfall had stopped overnight as predicted by Austrain meteoroligist Charly Gabl, writes Ralf Dujmovits in an email from basecamp. 40 centimeters of fresh snow have fallen. The climbers had two hours of sunshine. For the first time in days Darek Zaluski and Ralf could see the whole Diamir-Face: “Observing it our fear of being in quite a high risk when climbing up the Messner-Route was very obvious. On the huge serac-barrier are two big ice towers which are isolated from the rest. And they don’t look very stable.”

Date

1. January 2014 | 21:28

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Happy New Year

Neujahr 2014I wish you a joyful 2014 full of adventures – in the mountains or elsewhere!

Date

31. December 2013 | 18:08

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Time consuming and scary

Ralf trail-breaking up to Camp 1

Ralf trail-breaking up to Camp 1

Trail-breaking for nothing. “It has been snowing all day”, says Ralf Dujmovits in the basecamp on the Diamir side of Nanga Parbat. “We certainly have between 35 and 40 centimeter of fresh snow.” On his way to the toilet tent he slipped into a snowdrift and had trouble to get out of it. Ralf and his Polish companion Darek Zaluski know that they will have to break trail again when they climb up to the depot at 5500 meters which they had made yesterday. The fresh snow is also increasing the risk of avalanches. “If the wind doesn’t blow the snow out of the slopes, it will be impossible.”

Date

31. December 2013 | 17:56

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Risky

Ralf (during his first exploring trip)

Ralf (during his first exploring trip)

That was not for the faint-hearted. “We have set off two big snow slabs”, says Ralf Dujmovits via satellite phone after returning to basecamp. In addition a large avalanche went down. “That has finished Darek off.” His Polish friend Dariusz Zaluski was pretty much in the bag, he had retreated into the tent immediately. After the night in the tent at 4900 meters Ralf and Darek had climbed up through the icefall on the Messner route. “We have made good progress”, says Ralf. “At 5500 meters we have made a depot. The location is also good for a camp.”

Date

30. December 2013 | 18:48

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Stormy weather

Ralf during his first trip up

Ralf during his first trip up

Even before Ralf speaks his first words into the satellite phone, I know what the weather on the mountain is like. The wind is shaking the small tent and tugging at it. A background noise that no one will forget who has experienced it before. Ralf Dujmovits and Darek Zaluski have pitched their tent at an altitude of about 4900 meters, below the usual place for Camp 1 on the Kinshofer route, exactly where the way branches off to the Messner route. “It was not so easy to pitch the tent in this storm,” says Ralf . “We have benefitted from our great experience of many expeditions.”

Date

29. December 2013 | 20:35

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Wait and see

Ready packed, for nothing

Ready packed, for nothing

It is in the nature of plans that they sometimes have to be knocked on the head. Actually Ralf Dujmovits and Darek Zaluski wanted to climb up the Diamir face of Nanga Parbat today to bivouac at an altitude of 4850 meters and to look from there for a first camp on the Messner route. But this did not happen. When the two climbers met in the morning at the appointed hour, Darek told Ralf that it would be better if he stayed in basecamp. The climber from Poland has been infected by a gastrointestinal virus, a diet with rice and tea was necessary. “Meanwhile he’s already much better”, says Ralf in the (Pakistan) evening via satellite phone. “If the weather is fine, we could move up tomorrow.”

Date

28. December 2013 | 18:23

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Lots of blue ice

First ascent

First ascent

A winter expedition is not for wimps. Minus 18 degrees Celsius showed the thermometer of Ralf Dujmovits at the basecamp on the Diamir side of Nanga Parbat. Not outside, but inside the tent. “We have just only two and a half hours of sun per day here at the basecamp”, says Ralf Dujmovits. There was hardly time to warm up the computer and the satellite modem to operating temperature. Ralf and Darek Zaluski have returned from their first trip exploring the lower glacier areas. “That was a hard tracking job”, says Ralf. “On top we had powder snow, below a hard crust of old snow, which often broke when I stepped on it.”

Date

27. December 2013 | 11:44

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Merry Christmas!

Koelner Dom Abend

Date

24. December 2013 | 14:59

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Memory of assassination always present

Trek to Nanga Parbat basecamp

Trek to Nanga Parbat basecamp

Should there still be any trace of the assassination, you can not see them. There are no more old tents in the basecamp on the Diamir side of Nanga Parbat, where terrorists had killed eleven climbers last summer. And the site is covered by snow. “Today we had to fight our way through half a meter of fresh snow”, says Ralf Dujmovits via satellite telephone, an hour after he has arrived in the basecamp, together with his companion Darek Zaluski from Poland, their cook Essan, kitchen helper Karim and the first of 30 porters. “Because of the freezing cold the porters only want to take their tip and return as quickly as possible.” A little ceremony for the victims of the murder attack that was originally planned directly after the arrival had to be postponed due to the adverse weather conditions.

Date

24. December 2013 | 11:46

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