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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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China fuels the price spiral – and invests

Tibetan North side of Mount Everest

Tibetan North side of Mount Everest

Climbing on an eight-thousander in Tibet is getting more expensive, not only on Mount Everest. According to documents available to me, the Chinese Mountaineering Association (CMA) has significantly increased the prices for the climbing permits on Everest, Cho Oyu and Shishapangma, on average by more than 30 percent. Since the beginning of the year, the CMA claims 9,950 US dollars per mountaineer for the climb of the highest mountain on earth in case of four or more team members. So far the Everest Permit cost about 7,000 dollars per head. 7,400 dollars are now due for Cho Oyu, 7,150 dollar for climbing Shishapangma from the north side and 7,650 dollars for an ascent from the south side of the mountain. For smaller teams of up to three, the permit costs are even in a five-digit range: 19,500 dollars per person on Everest, 12,600 dollars each on Cho Oyu and Shishapangma.

Date

13. January 2017 | 14:51

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Snapexpedition

Cho Oyu (seen from Gokyo Ri)

Cho Oyu (seen from Gokyo Ri)

The world tends to gasping. It is caught somewhere between Snapchat, snapshot and a 140-character Twitter message – and it jumps onto every train, the main thing is, it’s running. The moments of leisure fall by the wayside. In the not too distant future, we will probably wonder how an expedition to an eight-thousander could ever last for two months. The American climbers Adrian Ballinger and Emily Harrington have reached their goal: Just two weeks after they set off from their house at Lake Tahoe in California, they opened the door again – in their baggage a successful climb of the eight-thousander Cho Oyu. Nine days after their departure, Adrian and Emily stood on the 8188-meter-high summit in Tibet. Then they skied down. Time to head home.

Date

8. October 2016 | 12:21

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Instant expedition to Cho Oyu

Upper slopes on Cho Oyu

Upper slopes on Cho Oyu

Who will stop the grey gentleman? The time-thieves who are wreaking havoc in German writer Michael Ende’s  novel “Momo” seem to have invaded the Himalayas. Western operators have noticed over the past few years that the chance to sell expeditions is the higher, the shorter the trips to Asia last. There are not too many employers who approve a two-month holiday application of an employee who wants to go to an eight-thousander expedition.

Date

24. September 2016 | 13:28

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Everest season “as normal as it could have been”

Mount Everest

Mount Everest

Before the season, actually all agreed: Commercial climbing on Everest would hardly cope with another year with accidents and without summit successes. It turned out differently. More than 400 ascents via the Nepalese south side of Everest, more than 100 on the north side, five deaths in the summit area. Everything back to normal? Any problems to point out? I’ve asked some expedition operators, who were on Everest this spring. The first three have already replied: Phil Crampton, Adrian Ballinger and Russell Brice. There are some coincidences. But read for yourself!

Date

10. June 2016 | 13:56

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Transparent Everest climbers

Tibetan north side of Everest

Tibetan north side of Everest

It is not only the thin air on Everest that makes climbers pant. Meanwhile, also a race seems to have started to be the most hip in social networks. Number one in this category this spring season – taking in account the media response worldwide – are without question the two Americans Adrian Ballinger and Cory Richards. They document their ascent without bottled oxygen on the Tibetan north side also via Snapchat – the image and video messaging service for smartphones and tablets, in which the messages automatically disappear after a while – and thus make couch potatoes gasp. Under #EverestNoFilter, everyone can follow Ballinger’s and Richard’s ascent via the Northeast Ridge virtually in real time and unfiltered. The two climbers want to reach the 8850-meter-high summit this weekend.

Date

20. May 2016 | 16:16

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More than 150 summit successes, one death

Mount Everest

Mount Everest

A solitary summit experience is different. Gyanendra Shrestha from the Nepalese Tourism Ministry told the Kathmandu-based newspaper “The Himalayan Times” that about 150 climbers had reached the 8850-meter-high summit of Mount Everest since the morning. The number would probably increase to more than 200 during the day. After the strong wind had calmed down, many teams set off from South Col on the Nepalese side of the mountain. The numerous summit successes on Everest were overshadowed by a fatality on the neighboring mountain Lhotse.

Date

19. May 2016 | 11:17

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Dujmovits: “Go to the north side of Everest!”

Ralf Dujmovits

Ralf Dujmovits

The good weather window on Mount Everest has not yet opened. “Heavy snow in Everest Base Camp at the moment,” American Dan Mazur, expedition leader of the operator Summit Climb, today wrote on Twitter from the Nepalese south side of the mountain. “Our Sherpas are working high up on the mountain, carrying oxygen, ropes, tents, food.”  On the north side of Everest, the Americans Adrian Ballinger and Cory Richards climbed today to an altitude of about 7,600 meters. “For just today, I’m pretty sure Cory and I were the highest people on the planet”, Adrian wrote on Instagram. “Does it matter? Of course not. But it felt special.” The two climbers, who want to scale Everest without bottled oxygen, returned to the North Col, “as afternoon clouds try to cross the border from Nepal into Tibet”. The weathermen expect for the next few days more snowfall on Everest. Maybe one or the other climbers in the base camps on the north and south side will use the time to read again Jon Krakauer’s book “Into Thin Air”. It describes the disaster on Everest in spring 1996. The 20th anniversary will be next Tuesday .

I have talked to Ralf Dujmovits about Mount Everest then and now. The 54-year-old is the first and so far only German who stood on the summits of all 14 eight-thousanders.

Ralf, you have taken an Everest sabbatical this year. Did you – like many others – want to see how the whole situation on Everest is developing?

Date

6. May 2016 | 17:19

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Normal, and that’s good

South side of Mount Everest (l.) at first light

South side of Mount Everest (l.) at first light

Bad news is good news, learns every prospective journalist. But actually it also can be good news, if there is no bad one. This spring, this applies particularly to Mount Everest, after the disasters of the past two years. In spring 2014, the season on the Nepalese side ended prematurely, after an ice avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall had killed 16 Nepali climbers. 2015 even turned out to be a year without summit success on both sides of the mountain due to the devastating earthquake in Nepal. On the south side, 19 people lost their lives, when the quake triggered an avalanche that hit the Base Camp. Later all climbers departed. On the north side, the Chinese authorities closed all eight-thousanders after the earthquake in the neighboring country. This year, in my view, the Everest season is running so far largely normal.

Date

4. May 2016 | 14:57

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