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with Stefan Nestler

“School up”: Alphorns as cornucopias

Ralf during his presentation in Cologne

Tailwind. There was a lot of it for our “School up!” project yesterday. The Rhineland-Cologne section of the German Alpine Club (DAV) had invited to a charity event to support the reconstruction of the school in Thulosirubari which had been destroyed by the earthquake in Nepal in 2015. The hall in Cologne was sold out. About 400 mountain lovers had come to be taken away by Ralf Dujmovits to the highest mountains in the world. At the end of June 2015, I had launched, along with Ralf and the Austrian top climber Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, “School up!” to rebuild the “Gerlinde and Ralf School” as soon as possible. All proceeds of the evening in Cologne flowed into the current construction work in the small village, about 70 kilometers east of Kathmandu.

Date

25. March 2017 | 22:25

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Burke fails again on Burke Khang

Bill Burke in front of Burke Khang (the lower summit on the right)

Something seems to be wrong with “his” mountain. The third year in a row, the 6942-meter-high Burke Khang was not first climbed by the man, after whom the mountain in the Everest area is named. Bill Burke called off the expedition, this time even without having set foot on the almost seven-thousander. A two-day snow storm had caused a lot of fresh snow in the Gokyo Valley. In addition, the weather forecast for the remaining time of the expedition predicted storm with gusts up to hurricane force. “Plowing through waist-high snow in extremely vertical 75 plus degree terrain at high altitude is one thing,” Burke writes in his blog. “Doing so facing winds exceeding 75 mph in subzero wind-chill temperatures would be an act of suicide.”

Date

23. March 2017 | 17:26

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Steck before Everest expedition: “Rather late than early”

Ueli Steck

He looks forward, not back. “I will never forget what happened on Everest in 2013,” the Swiss top climber Ueli Steck tells me. “But I believe I will have absolutely no problem with it. It’s over. I’m very motivated and I’ll go with a very good feeling.” In spring 2013, a Sherpa mob had attacked Steck, the Italian Simone Moro and the Briton Jonathan Griffith and had threatened them with death. This spring, Ueli will return to the highest mountain on earth. His goal: the traverse of Mount Everest and Lhotse. The 40-year-old will climb with Tenji Sherpa, with whom he had already scaled Everest without bottled oxygen in 2012. The 24-year-old belongs to “a new generation of Sherpas, who really enjoy climbing and are not only interested in doing business,” says Ueli. “I’m really looking forward to being en route with him.”

As reported, Steck had completed an intensive training camp with the German David Goettler and the Italian Hervé Barmasse in the Khumbu area in February. Subsequently, Ueli returned to Switzerland for a few weeks. He will set off to Kathmandu on 8 April.

Ueli, during the training Camp in Nepal in February you ran and climbed a total of about 250 kilometers with 15,000 meters in elevation. How much has been added since then?

Date

21. March 2017 | 15:18

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Nepalhilfe Beilngries: A successful family

“Family meeting” in Beilngries

An aid organization like a family – the Nepalhilfe Beilngries celebrated its 25th birthday yesterday evening with a festive event in the small Bavarian town. “I am proud that I have been part of the Nepalhilfe family since it was founded,” said Sunil Shrestha in his speech, bravely delivered in German. The 57-year-old has been coordinating the aid projects of the organization in the Himalayan state for a quarter of a century. Sunil and Shyam Pandit, also an important liaison man, had traveled, along with their wifes, from Kathmandu to Beilngries to celebrate with their German and Austrian friends. “The family should be proud of what we have achieved,” Shrestha said.

Date

19. March 2017 | 14:54

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Dominik Mueller: “There will be more climbers on Everest”

North side of Everest in the last daylight

It could be a record season on Mount Everest. After the successful 2016 season, experts are expecting a run on the highest mountain on earth – especially since many climbers want to use their extended permits from 2014 (valid until 2019) and from 2015 (which will run out this year). In 2014, the season in Nepal had been finished prematurely after an avalanche accident in the Khumbu Icefall with 16 deaths. In 2015, there had been no ascents on both sides of the mountain due to the devastating earthquake in Nepal.

Dominik Mueller, head of the German expedition operator Amical alpin, will set off to Everest with a “small but strong team” on 8 April. Three clients, four Climbing Sherpas and he himself will try to reach the 8,850-meter-high summit via the normal route on the Tibetan north side. “I will use bottled oxygen because I believe that I can only support other people as best as possible when using a breathing mask,” says the 46-year-old. “Anyone who climbs Everest without supplemental oxygen is so preoccupied with himself that he probably has no resources left to look after others.” I talked to him about the upcoming season.

Dominik, with what expectations do you set off to the Himalayas?

Date

18. March 2017 | 15:44

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Scherer: “Ice climbing is a metaphor”

Professional ice climber Matthias Scherer in action

Ice climbing is fascinating, but also dangerous. Two weeks ago, the Austrian extreme climber Thomas Bubendorfer survived with plenty of luck a ten-meter-fall from an icy waterfall in the Dolomites. The 54-year-old had landed in a creek bed and had suffered serious injuries. For a week, Bubendorfer was held in an artificial coma. Earlier this week, he was transferred to the Salzburg University Hospital. He is out of danger, addressable and does not have to be given artificial respiration anymore, said a hospital spokesperson.

Even before Thomas’ accident, I had talked to Matthias Scherer. The 42-year-old is a professional ice climber; since 1993 he has climbed more than 500 frozen waterfalls in Europe and Canada. Born in Frankfurt, he has been living and climbing along with his wife Tanja Schmitt in Cogne in the Aosta Valley, on the south side of Mont Blanc.

Matthias, is there something like a network between ice climbers, over which you communicate where the best ice conditions prevail?

Date

17. March 2017 | 10:16

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Royal Robbins is dead

Royal Robbins (1935-2017)

One of the great pioneers in rock climbing has gone: Royal Robbins died yesterday in Modesto, California after a long illness at the age of 82 years. “My father faced challenges in his climbing, his writing, his business, his role as a father and husband, and later in life in his debilitating illness,” said his daughter Tamara Robbins. “Through it all, he rose to the occasion, taking the challenges on with grace and humility. For that, he’s my hero.” In the late 1950s and 1960s, Robbins had set standards in bigwall climbing.

Date

15. March 2017 | 13:24

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Unfortunate expedition

Hannes Kuenkel on the Great Himalayan Trail

Not only the winter expeditions on Mount Everest and on Manaslu have failed. Another winter project did not work out as planned. Hannes Kuenkel and his Nepalese friend Pemba Jangbu Sherpa abandoned their attempt to hike on the highest route of the Great Himalayan Trail: the German after 130 kilometers, Pemba after about 220 kilometers, for different reasons. “I have expected all expedition-type events, including earthquakes,” Hannes told me, “but not that such a ‘bagatelle disease’ like diarrhea would kick me out.”

Date

15. March 2017 | 1:14

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“School up!”: Second floor plate almost finished

Plate of the second floor

The relatively dry winter in the Nepalese district Sindhupalchowk has played into the hands of our aid project “School up!”. The construction work for the new school in the village of Thulosirubari, about 70 kilometers east of Kathmandu, could be continued almost without interruption. Meanwhile, the plate of the second floor is practically finished. The goal of completing the construction work (except for the painting) before the monsoon starts in summer seems realistic. The constructors of the new large Berlin airport who have not come to an end for years could take an example of such effectiveness (in Nepal!). Here are some more pictures:

Date

10. March 2017 | 14:20

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Chasing the Everest age record

Min Bahadur Sherchan

Why does a 85-year-old need to climb Mount Everest? For world peace. For environmental protection. For the self-confidence of old people. As an inspiration for the young. All these alleged reasons had to serve when, earlier this week, Min Bahadur Sherchan officially announced in Kathmandu that he would try to reach the 8850-meter-summit this spring. The real and only issue is to regain the Everest age record from Yuichiro Miura. In 2013, the Japanese, then aged 80, had replaced Sherchan as “Everest Methuselah”. For five years, the Nepalese had previously led the record list after standing on the highest mountain on earth at the age of 76 years and 340 days.

Date

9. March 2017 | 14:10

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Txikon finishes Everest winter expedition

Alex Txikon

Alex Txikon throws in the towel. His second summit attempt failed too – and so did the entire winter expedition. The 35-year-old Basque and his Sherpa team decided in Camp 2 at 6,400 meters not to ascent further up. Instead, they packed up and returned to Everest Base Camp today. “It really would have been suicide to go on,” Txikon told his team by satellite phone. “As the head of the expedition, I should not endanger the lives of my companions. And not my own.” Nevertheless, the decision to abandon the summit attempt was not easy, Alex admitted.

Date

8. March 2017 | 12:21

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Txikon’s last Everest summit attempt is on

Alex Txikon on Everest

It is a race against time. Another storm front is approaching Mount Everest. The meteorologists expect the small weather window with relatively favorable conditions in the summit region to remain open only until Wednesday and then close for a longer period of time. Therefore Alex Txikon, who wants to climb Everest in winter without bottled oxygen, has to push now. In two weeks, the meteorological winter will end. On Monday, the 35-year-old Basque and his five-man strong Sherpa team climbed up to Camp 2 at 6,400 meters. Today Txikon and the Sherpas Nuri, Gesman, Temba, Sanu and Pasang Nurbu want to reach the South Col at 7,950 meters. All Sherpas use supplemental oxygen. Three weeks ago, Txikon’s first summit attempt had failed on the South Col. “We hope to reach the summit on Wednesday ,” Alex said.

Date

7. March 2017 | 11:26

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Bubendorfer seriously injured

Thomas Bubendorfer in action (©bubendorfer.com)

The Austrian extreme climber Thomas Bubendorfer had a ten-meter-fall during ice climbing in the Italian Dolomites and was very seriously injured. According to Italian media reports, the condition of the 54-year-old has improved slightly, but is still critical. The accident happened on Wednesday. Bubendorfer was climbing with a partner on a frozen waterfall in the gorge Serrai di Sottoguda on the Marmolada, a popular ice climbing area. For unknown reasons, he fell and landed in a creek bed.

Date

3. March 2017 | 14:28

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Andy Holzer: “Our chance on Everest is alive”

Andy Holzer on the Rongbuk Glacier near Everest (in 2015)

Andy Holzer has climbed already six of the “Seven Summits”, the highest mountains of all continents. Only the very highest is still missing in the collection of the blind mountaineer from Austria. This spring, the 50-year-old from the town of Lienz in East Tyrol wants to tackle Mount Everest for the third time. During his first go in 2014, the season had been finished prematurely after an avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall had killed 16 Nepalese climbers. In spring 2015, the devastating earthquake in Nepal, with nearly 9,000 deaths, had resulted in no Everest ascents from the south and the north. Like two years ago, Holzer plans to climb Everest via the Tibetan north side. He will be accompanied by his (seeing) East Tyrolean friends Wolfgang Klocker and Klemens Bichler.

Andy, again you are going to Mount Everest – after two attempts in 2014 and 2015, when, for different reasons, you actually were not been given the opportunity to tackle the highest of all mountains. Third time is a charm?

Date

3. March 2017 | 9:09

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Himalayan chronicle 2.0

Mount Everest, Lhotse, Makalu (from l. to r.)

It is the old road, but due to the increased traffic the (digital) emergency lane is used too. From now on,  expedition teams heading for Nepal can register with the Himalayan Database, the high mountaineering chronicle founded by the legendary Elizabeth Hawley,  also online before setting off, for example via Facebook. “We will continue to meet as many teams in Kathmandu as we can. However, it has become almost impossible in the last few years to interview everyone personally,” Billi Bierling explains the new procedure.

Date

2. March 2017 | 9:09

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