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with Stefan Nestler

Once upon a time … the Hillary Step

Hillary Step in 2017

The big boulder is gone. This is for sure. Tim Mosedale, a six-time Everest summiter from the UK, has added some pictures to Facebook to support his statement that the Hillary Step, the striking twelve-meter-high rock at 8,790 meters, no longer exists in its previous form. Tim’s pictures show: Where once a mighty boulder represented the last serious challenge before the summit, now only a few chunks are lying around. The British expedition leader had already claimed this in mid-May after his successful summit attempt: “It’s official. The Hillary Step is no more.”

Date

13. June 2017 | 16:37

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Nives Meroi: “Do it with patience and passion!”

Nives Meroi (r.) und Romano Benet during the IMS 2016 in Bressanone

There are mountaineers who in particular deserve their successes. Like Nives Meroi and Romano Benet from Italy. Without making a fuss about it, the two 55-year-olds have scaled eight-thousander after eight-thousander over the years and have remained true to themselves and their style: always en route in a small team, without Sherpa support, not using bottled oxygen. With the ascent of Annapurna, Nives and Romano completed their eight-thousander collection, exactly a month ago today – 19 years after their first success on Nanga Parbat, eight years after Romano suffered from aplastic anemia. Two bone marrow transplants were necessary to save Romano’s life.

Along with two Spaniards and two Chileans, Meroi and Benet reached the 8091-meter-high summit of Annapurna on 11 May. They became the first married couple who scaled all of the 14 highest mountains in the world. Nives was the second woman after the Austrian Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, who stood on all eight-thousanders without breathing mask. Meanwhile, Nives and Romano are back in Italy – and Nives has answered my questions, which I had sent to the couple after their success on Annapurna.

It was your third attempt on Annapurna after 2006 and 2009. How did you experience your climb? Did you benefit from your previous attempts?

Date

11. June 2017 | 11:36

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China cancels fall season on Tibet’s eight-thousanders

Janusz Adamski

This was not a good week for Janusz Adamski. First, the Nepalese government seized his passport and informed the Pole that he would be not allowed to enter Nepal for mountaineering in the next ten years. And now, the Chinese authorities made the 48-year-old the scapegoat for not issuing any permits next fall for the three eight-thousanders in Tibet. Adamski, who “illegally” scaled Mount Everest from the north side and then traversed to the south side on 21 May, was responsible that the rules and regulations had to be “adjusted and improved”, informed the China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA). To ensure that the problems were solved in time by 2018, there would be no climbing permits for fall 2017, said the CTMA.

Date

8. June 2017 | 21:19

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Everest season: successes, records, deaths and more

North side of Everest in the last daylight

If a mountain could breathe a sight of relief, Mount Everest would probably do it now. A total of more than 1,000 climbers on both sides of the highest mountain on earth have left the base camps and have returned home. There is silence again on Chomolungma, as the Sherpas call the mountain. Time to take stock. The exact figures are not yet available, but this spring some 600 summit successes have been recorded, increasing the number since the first ascent in 1953 to more than 8000.

Date

7. June 2017 | 15:10

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Felix Berg: “Extremely spontaneous expedition”

Summit of Annapurna I

Unpredictability is an essential part of adventure. And the more ambitious a mountain project, the greater is the uncertainty as to whether it really ends with a success. Thus the Italians Tamara Lunger and Simone Moro, who had planned to traverse the four summits of the Kangchenjunga massif without bottled oxygen, had to turn back without having reached a single summit. Two attempts ended at 7,200 meters, because Simone suffered from stomach ache. The German Thomas Laemmle returned empty-handed from Makalu, after four (!) failed summit attempts without supplemental oxygen and Sherpa support, always forced back by bad weather. And on the Northwest Face of Annapurna, the 33-year-old Pole Adam Bielecki, the 63-year-old Briton Rick Allen and the 36-year-old German Felix Berg had to capitulate halfway. “It was completely the right decision to turn around,” Felix tells me. “On the day of our descent, there was heavy snowfall. It would not have been possible with the weather.”

Date

2. June 2017 | 7:56

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Hans Wenzl: “All alone on top of Everest”

Hans Wenzl on top of Mount Everest

He had to push himself to his limits. Last Saturday, the Austrian Hans Wenzlas reported before –  reached the highest point on earth at 8,850 meters, despite adverse weather conditions, ascending from the Nepali south side without bottled oxygen. Mount Everest was already the eighth eight-thousander which Hans summited without breathing mask. He previously had stood on top of Broad Peak, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum I and II, Manaslu, Cho Oyu and Makalu. In addition, he reached in 2005 the 8,008-meter-high Central Peak of Shishapangma which is 19 meters lower than the Main Summit. His long-term goal is to complete the eight-thousander collection without supplemental oxygen. Even though the 46-year-old is not a professional climber. Wenzl earns his living as a site foreman of an Austrian construction company. For his expeditions he has to take holiday. Hans lives in the village of Metnitz in the north of Carinthia. He and his wife Sonja have two adult sons. He replied to my questions, which I had sent him to Nepal.

Date

1. June 2017 | 13:34

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On the short rope?

Ballinger on the summit of Mount Everest

It is undisputed that Adrian Ballinger reached the summit of Mount Everest without bottled  oxygen last Saturday. But a debate rose about how he did it. The trigger was my article about a conversation with Ralf Dujmovits on Monday, two days after his failed attempt without breathing mask on the north side of Everest at an altitude of 8,580 meters. During the satellite phone call, the 55-year-old German climber had accused Ballinger that the American had reported about his ascent in real time via the social networks, but had not mentioned some facts. On the descent, for example, Adrian had been led by an Ecuadorian mountain guide on the short rope, said Ralf. Ballinger’s team responded promptly.

Date

31. May 2017 | 21:46

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Ralf Dujmovits: “For me, that’s lying”

Ralf Dujmovits above Everest North Col

Tired and disappointed. That’s not only the way Ralf Dujmovits feels, he also sounds like this. The 55-year-old climber from Germany talks quietly and slowly, when he tells me via satellite phone about his failed summit attempt on Everest without bottled oxygen. On Saturday, Ralf had turned around at an altitude of 8,580 meters, just before the Second Step, the most striking rock step on the Northeast Ridge: “That was bitter.”

Date

29. May 2017 | 16:38

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Mixed balance

Northern route on Everest

Mount Everest has shown his teeth again on the past weekend – just on the day when eight climbers were on their summit push without bottled oxygen. Contrary to expectations, on Saturday wind gusts and snowfall in the summit area made the ascent difficult. The result: two summit successes without breathing mask on the north side, one on the south side. Two climbers, who used supplemental oxygen at all and reached the highest point at 8,850 meters. And three summit aspirants, who turned back because of concerns for their health.

Date

29. May 2017 | 13:47

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Dujmovits turns back on Everest at 8,500 m

Ralf Dujmovits

What a pity! Ralf Dujmovits has not been able to fulfill his dream of reaching the summit of Mount Everest without bottled oxygen. The 55-year-old turned back at an altitude of 8,500 meters. From Camp 3 at 8,300 meters, he telephoned his life partner, the Canadian climber Nancy Hansen. “He had to turn back at 8,500 m because a storm blew in: 40 kph winds with snow. He was losing feeling in his hands and feet,” Nancy wrote on Facebook. “As you can imagine, he is extremely disappointed. The weather just didn’t allow for a summit.” Ralf’s wise decision demands respect and shows that he was still in control of himself.

Date

27. May 2017 | 12:29

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Next station: Everest summit

Summit of Everest seen from the north side

Ralf Dujmovits is close to his big goal. In his eighth attempt, the 55-year-old finally wants to scale Mount Everest without bottled oxygen. Ralf is only about eight hours of ascent away from the highest point on earth at 8,850 meters – if everything goes well. Today Dujmovits, according to his life partner Nancy Hansen, reached Camp 3 on the Tibetan normal route at 8,300 meters, from where he called her by satellite phone. There had been a thunderstorm for the last hour, Ralf told the Canadian. It had taken him five hours to climb the 600 vertical meters from Camp 2. “He feels a little tired, but he sounds very alert and normal,” Nancy wrote on Facebook. “He will drink a lot now, rest a few hours, and leave for the summit at 1am Nepali time (1.15 pm Friday in Canada, 9.15 pm Friday in Germany).”

Date

26. May 2017 | 17:31

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Everest without O 2: Right on schedule

Ralf Dujmovits above Everest North Col

So far, the summit attempts of the climbers, who are currently tackling Mount Everest without bottled oxygen, are on schedule (with one exception, see below). According to his life partner Nancy Hansen, Ralf Dujmovits today reached Camp 2 on the Tibetan north side of the highest mountain on earth: “Ralf just called me from 7,700 m, where he will sleep for the night,” the Canadian climber wrote on Facebook. “It is stormy now, but the winds should come down. Tomorrow he will move up to 8,300 m. He feels good!” The 55-year-old has already – as the only German climber so far – scaled all 14 eight-thousanders. Only on Everest in 1992 he had used a breathing mask. The current attempt without bottled oxygen is his eighth and in his own words the “definitely last one” on Everest.

Date

25. May 2017 | 14:32

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Without O2: The Everest summit pushs of Dujmovits and Co. are on

Ralf Dujmovits, in the background Mount Everest

If everything works, there could be a “topless” party on the summit of Mount Everest next Saturday. Some climbers who want to scale the highest mountain on earth without breathing mask have started their summit attempts. Among those who set off from the Advanced Base Camp on the Tibetan north side was Ralf Dujmovits. The 55-year-old, so far the only German who has scaled all 14 eight-thousanders, wants to succeed in his eighth attempt climbing Everest without supplemental oxygen. In his successful attempt in fall 1992, Ralf had used a breathing mask above the South Col, due to bad weather. All other eight-thousanders he had climbed without bottled oxygen. His plan now: today North Col (7,050 m), tomorrow Camp 2 (7,700 m), on Friday Camp 3 (8,300 m) and on Saturday “hopefully towards the summit” (8,850 m), as Ralf writes to me: “I am confident, I feel good and I think that the extremely warm temperatures (probably minus 20 degrees Celsius) might help me.”

Date

24. May 2017 | 12:43

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Farewell, Ueli!

The Eiger North Face in the evening light

“I believe he was a totally happy person when it happened,” said Robert Boesch, the Swiss photographer and mountaineer, at the commemoration for his friend Ueli Steck, who had fallen to death from an altitude of about 7,600 meters on Nuptse on 30 April. Every SMS Ueli had sent from Everest Base Camp before had conveyed the message: Everything is perfect, motivation as well as fitness. Boesch believes that it was a spontaneous decision of the 40-year-old not to ascend to Everest South Col, as originally planned, but to climb Nuptse. “The conditions must have been good, otherwise he would not have been so early so far up,” said Robert. Surely Steck had climbed “in a flow”. Why he fell, could not be clarified: “That doesn’t matter, that’s just climbing. He did not have the quantum of luck he would have needed.”

Date

24. May 2017 | 0:25

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Goettler and Barmasse climb through Shishapangma South Face

David Goettler at their highest point (in the background the summit)

Only a few meters have been missing to the top, but they’ve climbed through the wall. David Goettler and Hervé Barmasse entered the Shishapangma South Face on Sunday morning and climbed in 13 hours to a point just below the 8,027-meter-high summit. “We found a last traverse of about ten meters and then five meters up to the summit too delicate due to the avalanche danger,” David writes to me after returning to the Base Camp. Originally, the 38-year-old German and his one year older climbing partner from Italy had planned to open a new route through the South Face. Like in spring 2016, when David had tried the same with the Swiss Ueli Steck, the weather conditions impeded the project.

Date

23. May 2017 | 8:40

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