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.”
Date27. December 2013 | 11:44
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.
Date24. December 2013 | 11:46
Safety first on Nanga Parbat. “All the time we were driving on Karakoram Highway, we had a police escort,” says Ralf Dujmovits. “In front and behind of us there was a pickup each with two policemen sitting on a bench on the loading area. They held their Kalashnikovs in firing position.” Ralf calls me from Chilas, a small town on the Indus, about 50 km as the crow flies from 8000er Nanga Parbat. Because the baggage of his Polish companion Darek Zaluski did not arrive in time they had to stay in Islamabad one day longer than initially planned. On Saturday Ralf and Darek want to distribute the loads to their porters, who then shall set out to Diamir basecamp. “I think I will stay in Chilas tomorrow, because I still have to complete some formalities”, says Ralf. “If everything goes as scheduled, we will arrive at basecamp in three days.”
Date20. December 2013 | 18:28
Fast and alone. That is Ralf Dujmovits’ tactics for his winter ascent of Nanga Parbat. The first German, who climbed all fourteen 8000ers, has chosen an unusual way of acclimatizing: The 52-year-old climbed Aconcagua, the highest mountain of South America, and spent two nights at the 6962-meter-high summit. Ralf’s wife Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner will be missing from the expedition to Nanga Parbat. The 43-year-old female climber from Austria must cure her joints which are overstressed by training. Today Ralf travelled to Pakistan. During his brief stopover at home in the German town of Buehl I spoke to him:
Ralf, why did you choose Nanga Parbat?
Nanga Parbat is for me – and has been also for Gerlinde for a long time – the most beautiful 8000er. Whenever we were asked after having finished the fourteen 8000ers, which of them we might try again, we independently answered: Nanga Parbat .
And why in winter?
Date18. December 2013 | 18:30
“For me, this is completely new ground.” David Goettler is looking forward to his upcoming winter expedition that, after Christmas, will take him and the Italian climbers Simone Moro and Emilio Previtali to the 8000er Nanga Parbat in Pakistan. “Until now I have gained experience in winter climbing only in the Alps, never in the Himalayas or in Karakoram”, says the 35-year-old climber from Munich when I meet him in my hometown Cologne this week. David has intensified the endurance training since Simone’s invitation at the end of September to accompany him to Nanga Parbat. You cannot train coldness, says David. “It makes no sense sitting in the refrigerator for three days.”
Date7. December 2013 | 22:12
Ines Papert could have done without this kind of souvenir from the Himalayas. “The healing of fingers and toes will take some time”, says the 39-year-old after her return from Nepal. As reported in my blog the German top female climber made a first ascent of 6719-meter-high Likhu Chuli I, also known as Pig Pherado Shar, on 13 November after opening a new route through the North Face of the 6000er together with Thomas Senf. “I never thought that frostbite could emerge so creepingly”, Ines is surprised. “During our climb we were as cold as never before but we have taken the first symptoms very seriously.” For this reason, Thomas abandoned the final climb to the summit within his reach at the last camp on 6580 meters.
Date29. November 2013 | 17:06
The South Tyrolean mountaineer Hans Kammerlander has been involved in a car accident with a tragic end near his home village Sand in Taufers. According to media reports from South Tyrol, a 21-year-old man lost control of his car. It grazed three oncoming cars before it crashed head-on into a van that was driven by Kammerlander. The 21-year-old died at the scene. Kammerlander and four other persons, who were injured too, were taken to hospital. Stol.it reports that Kammerlander broke his right leg. The 56-year-old was under shock, it said. His van was completely destroyed.
Date27. November 2013 | 15:18
Frank Smythe was obsessed with the highest mountain on earth . “Everest is becoming a life’s task”, he wrote in his diary. Smythe was a member of all three British expeditions to Mount Everest in the 1930s. Not only since his first ascent of 7756-meter-high Kamet in 1931 he was among the leading climbers of his time. On 1 June 1933 Frank equalled the altitude record on Everest with about 8570 meters, reaching probably the same point in the North Face as his compatriot Edward Felix Norton in 1924. “It (the summit) was only 1,000 feet above me, but an aeon of weariness separated me from it”, Smythe wrote. Climbing without bottled oxygen he began to hallucinate on his way back. Frank thought there was a companion and wanted to share his cake with him. He was also convinced to see two bulbous objects hovering above him. Smythe reported about these experiences in his book “Camp 6”. What Frank kept secret until his death in 1949 was a surprising discovery he patently made during his next expedition to Everest in 1936: Apparently if not likely Smythe spotted the body of George Mallory. The mystery of Mallory and Andrew Irvine, who started for a summit attempt in 1924 but did not return, has not been solved completely until today.
Date27. November 2013 | 13:15
The blind can see, just in a different way. This is demonstrated by the Austrian Andy Holzer. The 47-year-old from Lienz in East Tyrol has been blind since birth. But that does not prevent him from rock climbing, ski touring or even mountaineering in the Himalayas. 16 August 1975 was a special day in Andy’s life: As a nine-year-old boy he was allowed for the first time to climb a rocky mountain together with his parents. After he had dragged himself for hours through the debris he turned to rock climbing and suddenly he regarded his father as climbing too slow. His mother couldn’t follow them. “I felt like someone had freed me from chains”, Andy recalled, as we recently met during the International Mountain Summit in Brixen.
Andy, the first question is probably always the same. How do you manage to climb a rock face without being able to see anything?
I don’t climb without seeing it. That would not work.
Please explain what you mean!
Date25. November 2013 | 21:43
And it was a first ascent at all! On 13 November Ines Papert was the first person who set foot on the 6718-meter-high Pig Pherado Shar in Nepal, also known as Likhu Chuli I. Billi Bierling, staff member of the legendary Himalayan chronicler Elizabeth Hawley, writes me that the Frenchwoman Cecile Barbezat and Nawang Dorje Sherpa on 21 October 1960 were at the top of Likhu Chuli II, “which conversely means that Ines made the first ascent of Likhu Chuli I.” This was the result of a research that her French colleague Rodolphe Popier made in the library of the French Alpine Club (Club Alpin Français).
Date22. November 2013 | 13:16
TagsBilli Bierling, Cecile Barbezat, Elizabeth Hawley, first ascent, Ines Papert, Likhu Chuli I, Rodolphe Popier
Was Ines the first after all?
It’s getting even more exciting: Maybe German climber Ines Papert has climbed the 6718-meter-high Pig Pherado Shar in Nepal firstly after all. Billi Bierling, staff member of Himalayan chronicler Elizabeth Hawley, has drawn my attention to this option. The mountain is also known as Likhu Chuli I. I had referred to a note in Hawley’s database that a French team led by Robert Sandoz had already climbed the 6000er near Namche Bazaar on 21 October 1960. Billi writes that the French climbers maybe instead reached the summit of the 6659-meter-high Likhu Chuli II (Pig Pherago Nup). So the question is: Likhu Chuli I or II? “The database says ‘I’, but we believe that it is a mistake!”, writes Billi. The research is going on. If there is any news from Kathmandu, I will of course inform you. By the way: first ascent or not, the performance of Ines Papert deserves our applause anyway.
Date21. November 2013 | 13:55
Great success for Ines Papert: The German top climber tells on Facebook that she and Thomas Senf have opened a new route through the north face of 6718-meter-high Pig Pherado Shar in Nepal. The mountain is located near Namche Bazaar, the main village of the Khumbu region close to Mount Everest. The 39-year-old woman climber reached the summit alone. “Unfortunately Thomas couldn’t climb to the highest point because of incipient frostbite on his toes”, Ines writes on the Facebook page of one of her sponsors. “It was the coldest adventure of my lifetime.”
Date20. November 2013 | 14:24
Hansjoerg Auer likes to use the word “brutal”. But only when he is telling of something that inspires him. “It’s just a brutal beautiful mountain and a brutal cool goal,” says the top climber from Austria about Kunyang Chhish East. The 7400-meter-high mountain is located in the Karakoram in Pakistan. Hansjoerg has climbed the side peak of Kunyang Chhish (7852 meters) last summer together with his brother Matthias and Swiss Simon Anthamatten. “You rarely find this combination: a 7000er, unclimbed, with a cool wall such as the nearly 3000-meter-high South Face”, says the 29-year-old climber. “I am thrilled by exactly these expeditions with as many question marks as possible. They are interesting and remain exciting.”
Date15. November 2013 | 17:11
The dream of flying like a bird is as old as humanity itself. Until the moment of deploying the parachute a basejump from a cliff seems to get close to this dream, jumping with a wingsuit from a mountain maybe even closer. But there’s a catch: Mostly a mistake means death. In 2013 alone more than twenty jumpers died, among them the Canadian Mario Richard and the Briton Mark Sutton. The 47-year-old Richard was the husband of US climber Steph Davis. The 42-year-old Sutton had served as a stunt double of James Bond during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games 2012 in London when he had skydived out of a helicopter into the Olympic Stadium. Both died in August during wingsuit flights, Richard in Italy, Sutton in Switzerland.
During the International Mountain Summit in Brixen I talked to Alexander Polli. The 28-year-old Norwegian, who is living mostly in Italy, is one of the most experienced wingsuit flyers of the world. This year he caused a furore by flying through a rockhole in Spain with about 250 km/h.
Date8. November 2013 | 5:02