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Alexander Huber: “Climate change is clearly noticeable”

Ogre II and I (r.), they reached the col

Three attempts, then it was over. As reported, Alexander Huber, the Swiss Dani Arnold and the two East Tyroleans Mario Walder and Christian Zenz abandoned their expedition on the 7285-meter-high Ogre I in Pakistan and returned home. They had wanted to reach the summit of the mountain, which so far has been scaled only three times, over the still not mastered East Pillar. I spoke to Alexander, aged 48, the younger of the two Huber brothers, about the failed expedition.

Alexander, you wrote on Facebook that you knew what the mountain wanted to tell you. What was the message?

We set off to the mountain three times and were able to control the situation with maximum risk management three times. But we noticed every time that we were running extremely late. There was only a very short time window to move safely on the mountain. In this case you have to be en route with full steam to get out of the danger zone on time. We did it three times, and it turned out well. But one day it won’t work so well, and then you are in the middle of this extremely dangerous terrain and can not get out.

Date

2. September 2017 | 18:59

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Ogre by night schedule

East Pillar of Ogre I

This summer, there was hardly anything to be gained on Ogre I. “The weather was almost always rather bad,” German top climber Alexander Huber writes on Facebook about his expedition to the 7285-meter-high mountain in Pakistan. The conditions were marginal. “A little old snow from the winter and a lot of fresh snow from early summer in the structure of the snowpack. In addition always high temperatures. Summing up, piles of slush.” The 48-year-old, the younger of the Huber brothers, had wanted to reach the summit along with the East Tyroleans Mario Walder and Christian Zenz and the Swiss Dani Arnold via the still unclimbed East Pillar. Even before departure, Alexander had described Ogre I to me as “one of the most exclusive peaks of our planet, one of the most difficult spots to reach”. This was confirmed: Climbing was only possible after night schedule.

Date

30. August 2017 | 22:16

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Alexander Huber: “Ogre is not a man-eater”

Alexander Huber

Ogre has on the Huber brothers almost the same effect as the singing of the Sirens in Greek mythology: the two German top climbers can hardly escape the call of this fascinating granite giant. Time and again in their long careers Alexander and Thomas Huber have set off to the Ogre massif in the Karakoram or the nearby peaks of the Latok group. In 1999, they failed in their attempt to climb the 7,285-meter-high Ogre I. Thomas succeeded the second ascent of the mountain in 2001, along with the two Swiss Urs Stoecker and Iwan Wolf. The first ascent was made almost 40 years ago, on 13 July 1977 by the British climbers Chris Bonington and Doug Scott. The descent became a drama with a happy end: Scott broke both ankles, Bonington two ribs. Nevertheless, both of them, supported by the other team members, reached the base camp one week after their summit success – one of the great survival stories on the highest mountains in the world.

Easier doing it with friends

Yesterday Alexander Huber set off to Ogre. His team includes the two East Tyroleans Mario Walder and Christian Zenz and the Swiss Dani Arnold. With Dani (and Thomas Senf), Alexander had opened a new route through the Matterhorn North Face last March. With Mario and Christian, he had succeeded  the first ascent of a route on the mountain Ritterknecht in East Greenland in summer 2016. “It’s good to be on the road with partners you know,” says Alexander Huber. His three companions are not only good, competent climbers, but also friends, says the younger of the two Huber brothers. “You have to spend a lot of time together, often moments of tension. The better the human chemistry fits, the better it is.” I talked with the 48-year-old about his expedition before he left for Pakistan.

Alexander, you are heading to Ogre, a seven-thousander in the Karakoram. What exactly are you planning?

Date

24. June 2017 | 15:01

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Ueli Steck regains Eiger record

Steck on top of Eiger

Steck on top of Eiger

While I got footsore during my “Power pilgrimage for Nepal”, Ueli Steck “ran” fleet-footed through the Eiger North Face (look at the video below). “Speedy Ueli” climbed the Heckmair route – the way of the first ascender in 1938 – solo in just two hours and 22 minutes. Thus, the 39-year-old top climber from Switzerland regained the speed record in this legendary, 1800-meter-high wall that he had lost in 2011 to his compatriot Dani Arnold (2:28 hours). In 2008, Steck had climbed the wall in 2:47 hours. “I had a good track and good conditions”, Ueli said after his tour de force through the North Face adding that it was “a beautiful experience and a great day”.

Date

21. November 2015 | 21:27

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Thomas Huber: “In the hands of fate as never before”

Thomas Huber on Choktoi Glacier, behind him the North Face of Latok I (l.) and Ogre (r.)

Thomas Huber on Choktoi Glacier, behind him the North Face of Latok I (l.) and Ogre (r.)

It was a hot, but from the climbers’ perspective a meager summer in the Karakoram: Most expeditions left Pakistan without summit successes. The German “Huberbuam” Thomas and Alexander, the Swiss Dani Arnold and the Austrian Mario Walder also returned empty-handed, but alive and “in one piece” – which was not a matter of course considering their experiences at the Latok group. Thomas, aged 48, the elder of the Huber brothers, told me the story.

Thomas, this summer you actually wanted to tackle the North Face of the 7,145-meter-high Latok I which has not yet been climbed. This did not happen. Why?

We have seen the North Face only from afar. We realized pretty soon that is was impossible to climb the wall under these conditions. It would have been possible to tackle the North Ridge. But this did not happen too, because another mountain battered us so that we lost our motivation and courage to push ourselves to the absolute limit again.

Date

2. October 2015 | 16:44

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Matterhorn: ”For climbing okay, but not very special”

Dani Arnold

Dani Arnold

The Matterhorn was his first four-thousander. Dani Arnold was 18 years old when he first scaled the prestige mountain of his home country from the Höernli Hut on the normal route in 2002. Today the 31-year-old is one of the best climbers in Switzerland. Since then, he has been „maybe eight times on top“ of the Matterhorn, Dani writes to me from Pakistan, where he is currently trying to climb first through the North Face of the seven-thousander Latok I, along with the German Huber brothers and the Austrian Mario Walder. In recent years, Arnold made headlines in particular with his speed records. Since 2011, he is holding the record on the Eiger North Face. He climbed the wall on the route of the first ascent in two hours and 28 minutes. Thus Dani was 20 minutes faster than the previous record holder Ueli Steck. This April, he also broke Steck’s speed record on the Matterhorn North Face. It took Arnold an hour and 46 minutes, spending ten minutes less on the wall than Ueli did in 2009. The Matterhorn, 150 years after the first ascent, from the perspective of a professional climber:

Dani, all over the world the Matterhorn is a symbol for Switzerland. How do you see this mountain? Or in other words, what does it mean to you?

Date

13. July 2015 | 8:00

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Huber brothers want to tackle the North Face of Latok I

Thomas and Alexander Huber, Dani Arnold, their Pakistani companion Rasool, Mario Walder, Seppi Dabringer (from right)

Thomas and Alexander Huber, Dani Arnold, their Pakistani companion Rasool, Mario Walder, Seppi Dabringer (from right)

The eternal attraction of Latok I. There is hardly another seven-thousander that has been such a hard nut to crack for top climbers from all over the world for the past decades. The first ascent of the highest of the four Latok summits was made 36 years ago. The Japanese Tsuneo Shigehiro, Sin’e Matsumi and Yu Watanabe succeeded on 19 July 1979. They had climbed up from the south via a buttress to the east East Ridge and from there to the highest point. More famous because notorious are the still unconquered North Ridge – and the also unclimbed North Face. This summer, the “Huberbuam”, the German brothers Alexander and Thomas Huber, will try to master this big wall.

Date

24. June 2015 | 10:56

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