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Another incident on K 2

Rafal Fronia

For the Polish climber Rafael Fronia, the winter expedition on K2 is over. “Today, at 2pm local time, while approaching to Camp 1 (5,900m), a smoldering falling stone hit Rafał Fronia in the forearm causing a fracture,” expedition leader Krzysztof Wielicki informed from the base camp on Facebook. “After descending to the base and medical supply, he expects to be evacuated by a helicopter to the hospital in Skardu.” Fronia is to return home. In spring 2017, the Polish climber had scaled the eight-thousander Lhotse in Nepal without bottled oxygen.

Date

9. February 2018 | 16:05

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Moment of shock for Adam Bielecki on K2

It worked out well in the end

“Eh, that was close,” Adam Bielecki writes on Facebook from K2 Base Camp. “Several dozens of meters below camp 1 [at 5,800 m]  I was hit by a big stone. The result is a broken nose and six stitches, which were professionally put by Piotr Tomala and Marek Chmielarski directed by phone instructions from Robert Szymczak. In a few days I should be back in a perfect condition.” Previously, Krzysztof Wielicki, the leader of the Polish winter expedition on the second highest mountain on earth, had reported that Bielecki had been injured on the forehead and nose, although he had worn a helmet. Wielecki emphasized that the 34-year-old had not lost consciousness and was still able to descend to the base camp: “We hope that he will soon be back to full strength.”

Date

7. February 2018 | 16:45

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Nanga Parbat: Triumph and tragedy

Elisabeth Revol in a French hospital

The ridge is narrow at the highest mountains in the world, between luck and danger, between life and death. On Thursday of last week, Elisabeth Revol and Tomek Mackiewicz reached the 8,125-meter-high summit of Nanga Parbat. Elisabeth was the first woman to succeed a winter ascent of this eight-thousander, Tomek the first Pole to set foot on the highest point of Nanga Parbat in the cold season. In the seventh attempt Mackiewicz had finally fulfilled his big dream. For Revol, it was the third attempt, all together with Tomek. The two climbers did not have time to enjoy the second winter ascent of Nanga Parbat on the summit. They were late, it was already 6 pm local time and dark. That was still the smaller problem. Tomek told me ‘I can’t see anything any more’,” Elisabeth reports from a French hospital, where her severe frostbite on her hands and feet is being treated. He hadn’t used a mask because it was a bit hazy during the day and by nightfall he had ophthalmia (an inflammation of the eye). We hardly had a second at the top. We had to rush to get down.”

Date

1. February 2018 | 20:25

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Rescue operation on Nanga Parbat

Elisabeth Revol and Tomek Mackiewicz

It’s a race against time. A rescue team of climbers from the Polish K2 winter expedition is trying to rescue the Frenchwoman Elisabeth Revol and the Pole Tomek Mackiewicz, who have fallen into difficulties during their summit bid on Nanga Parbat. According to the information available, the 43-year-old Tomek – suffering from snowblindness and frostbite – is staying in a tent at about 7200 meters. “I keep descending, please helicopter tomorrow,” wrote Elisabeth Revol in a text message from her satellite phone. The 37-year-old is said to be somewhere between 6200 and 6400 meters.

Date

27. January 2018 | 19:33

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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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Summit attempt on the Annapurna Northwest Face is on

Annapurna

The good weather window predicted for the coming weekend has not only led to a huge number of teams starting their summit attempts on Mount Everest. Also on other eight-thousanders climbers have left the base camps. On Makalu, for example, the German Thomas Laemmle, who is climbing solo and without bottled oxygen, has today pitched up his tent already far up, on Makalu La at 7,400 meters. On Dhaulagiri, the 78-year-old Spaniard Carlos Soria and his team-mates are planning to reach the summit on Sunday. On Annapurna, the Pole Adam Bielecki, the Briton Rick Allen and the German Felix Berg have started their summit attempt on Wednesday.

Date

19. May 2017 | 16:38

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Annapurna Northwest Face instead of Cho Oyu North Face

Annapurna Northwest Face

Time for plan B. Since China has not issued visa for Tibet this spring for climbers who have been staying in Pakistan for more than a month at a time during the past three years, the Canadian Louis Rousseau, the Briton Rick Allen, the Pole Adam Bielecki and the German Felix Berg had to re-plan. The team was surprised by the new Chinese regulation in Kathmandu. In 2015/16 Bielecki had tried unsuccessfully a winter ascent of Nanga Parbat, Felix Berg had climbed Mustagh Tower in the Karakoram in summer 2016. So the previous plan to open a new route through the North Face of Cho Oyu, located in Tibet, became impossible. The quartet was looking for an alternative destination in Nepal and found it.

Date

14. April 2017 | 18:40

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Rousseau and Co. tackle Cho Oyu North Face

Cho Oyu North Face

There is still potential for climbing highlights even on the “top sellers” among the eight-thousanders. This applies not only to Mount Everest (up to now more than 7500 summit successes), but also to the second most climbed eight-thousander, Cho Oyu (more than 3500 summit successes). This spring, an international team of four, led by Louis Rousseau, plans to open a new route through the North Face of the sixth highest mountain on earth, in Alpine style. For the 40-year-old Canadian, it’s a comeback on the eight-thousanders after a break of five years. In 2012, Rousseau had been searching on Gasherbrum I for his longtime climbing partner Gerfried Göschl from Austria, who had remained missing after a winter attempt on the mountain in Pakistan. In 2011, Rousseau had scaled Gasherbrum II, his third eight-thousander after Broad Peak (in 2007) and Nanga Parbat (new route along with Göschl in 2009).

Date

13. April 2017 | 16:09

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Fall without serious consequences

Group picture - with joker Tomek Mackiewicz (r.)

Group picture – with joker Tomek Mackiewicz (r.)

Again, it’s a tough struggle for the first winter ascent on Nanga Parbat – and a dangerous one. On the Rupal side, the southwestern side of the mountain, the Polish “Nanga Dream” team is working their way up on the Schell route. “The guys are on the ridge [the Southsouthwest Ridge] trying to make Camp 3”, the team writes to me today. “They are pushing higher up to 7,000 meters.” Camp 2 is located at 6,200 meters. On the Diamir side, the northwestern side of the mountain, Thursday is “one of the few days – if not the only one – that we ALL are in Base Camp at the same time”, the Spaniard Alex Txikon writes on Facebook.

Date

14. January 2016 | 12:56

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Turn five into four

Nanga Parbat

Nanga Parbat

Joining forces is a recipe for success – also in mountaineering. You only need to recall the legendary first ascent of the Eiger North Face in 1938, when the Germans Anderl Heckmair and Ludwig Voerg and the Austrians Heinrich Harrer and Fritz Kasparek started their climbs as two teams of two, banded together in the wall and were successful. Also now on Nanga Parbat, two of the five expedition teams on the mountain have joined their forces in order to have better chances for the first winter ascent on the ninth highest mountain on earth. “Plan A – quick alpine style push – failed due to weather. Plan B – regaining acclimatization and climbing “alpine style like” – failed too due to Jacek’s health issue. By the way he is himself again. It’s time for plan C”, the Polish climber Adam Bielecki writes on Facebook.

Date

11. January 2016 | 17:05

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Shock freezing on Nanga Parbat

Jacek Czech climbing on an icy slope

Jacek Czech climbing on an icy slope

There will hardly be record temperatures on Nanga Parbat this winter, and if, then only low ones. “Unfortunately January weather on Nanga is extremely bad in comparison to the previous two years”, writes the Polish climber Adam Bielecki, who, along with his compatriot Jacek Czech, wants to climb on the Diamir side of the mountain via the Kinshofer route to the 8,125-meter-high summit, doing it in Alpine style: without bottled oxygen and without fixed high camps. “So far there wasn’t a single day with weather good enough to attempt a summit attack.” In the last few days, the thermometer dropped below minus 40 degrees Celsius. In addition, strong winds blew and it was snowing. These days, Bielecki and Czech want to climb up to a minimum altitude of 7,000 meters, “in order to regain acclimatization which would allow us to wait for better weather”. That sounds as if the two Poles can imagine not descending to Base Camp once more before their first summit attempt. Before traveling to Pakistan, Adam and Jacek had already acclimatized at the 6,893-meter-high volcano Ojos del Salado in Chile.

Date

7. January 2016 | 17:43

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Climber’s Groundhog Day on Nanga Parbat

Andie MacDowell with a real groundhog

Andie MacDowell with a real groundhog

What are Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell actually doing this winter? Perhaps the two Hollywood stars are traveling to Pakistan to shoot a remake of their blockbuster “Groundhog Day” that is set in the world of high altitude climbers. After all, the same match on Nanga Parbat is repeated year after year: Several expeditions arrive at the different base camps to climb the “Naked Mountain” for the first time in winter. And again and again they return home exhausted and empty-handed two months later. 27 expeditions ended this way. This winter, another five teams will tackle the 8,125-meter-high mountain, which is – apart from K 2 – the only eight-thousander which has never been climbed in the cold season. Two of the current climbing teams have the Murray/MacDowell pattern – even if the name of one of these expeditions sounds more like a Disney movie.

Date

5. December 2015 | 14:00

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