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Special expedition training

Barmasse, Steck, Tenji Sherpa and Goettler (from l. to r.)

What a high-caliber training group! The Swiss Ueli Steck, the Nepalese Tenji Sherpa, the German David Goettler and the Italian Hervé Barmasse have been preparing themselves for their expeditions in spring in the village of Chukhung in the Everest region for ten days. Steck and Tenji Sherpa plan to traverse Mount Everest and Lhotse. No one has yet managed to do this without bottled oxygen. Goettler and Barmasse want to open a new route via the Shishapangma South Face in Tibet. In the course of the training, mountain running was at the focus. “I ran three times from Chukhung (4,730 meters) to Island Peak (6,180 meters),” writes Ueli. He had climbed and run a total of about 12,000 vertical meters over a distance of around 150 kilometers. “My body and my soul feel great,” says Steck. “I really enjoy being here in Nepal with such good friends. Just climb and run and nothing else.”

Date

21. February 2017 | 14:29

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Ueli Steck: “If you go too far, you are dead”

Ueli Steck at the IMS in Bressanone

Ueli Steck at the IMS in Bressanone

If “The Fast and the Furious” had been a film about climbers, Ueli Steck could have played the leading role. The Swiss is just extremely fast. The Eiger North Face in two hours and 22 minutes, the 82 four-thousanders of the Alps within 61 days, solo via the Annapurna South Face to the 8091-meter-high summit and back in 28 hours, through Shishapangma South Face within ten and a half hours – for good reason Ueli is nicknamed “The Swiss Machine”. As if he had a tuned engine inside like the cars in “The Fast and the Furious”. Just recently, Steck has returned from India. I met him at the International Mountain Summit (IMS) in Bressanone in South Tyrol and talked to him about his tendency to speed, about aging and his next plans.

Ueli, you just turned 40 years old and you were not at home. How did you spend your birthday?

Date

15. October 2016 | 1:55

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Steck and Goettler after Shishapangma South Face: “Only postponed”

Ueli Steck and David Goettler in Shishapangma South Face

Ueli Steck and David Goettler in Shishapangma South Face

It was one of the most exciting climbing projects of this spring’s season in the Himalayas. Swiss top climber Ueli Steck and German David Goettler initially planned to open a new direct route through the South Face of 8,027-meter-high Shishapangma. But they were not able to put it into practice. They “only” climbed the so called “Corredor Girona” route, opened by a Spanish team in 1995, up to the ridge at 7,800 meters and in their last attempt the route of the British first-ascenders of the South Face in 1982, Doug Scott, Alex MacIntyre and Roger Baxter-Jones, up to 7,600 meters. Even though they failed to climb a new route, Ueli and David didn’t return empty-handed from Tibet. I called the 39-year-old Swiss and the 37-year-old German in their hotel in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu.

Satisfied, disappointed or some of both? How do you feel after this expedition?

Date

30. May 2016 | 10:34

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After 16 ½ years: Alex Lowe’s body found

Alex Lowe in 1995 (l., along with Conrad Anker)

Alex Lowe in 1995 (l., with Conrad Anker)

Glaciers are constantly moving. And so they spit out one day what they once swallowed. Climate change, which makes glaciers melt faster, is speeding up the process. In recent years there have been more and more reports from around the world that bodies of dead climbers were discovered after many years. Whether on Mont Blanc, on the Matterhorn, on Mount Everest – or now on the eight-thousander Shishapangma in Tibet. The Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation announced that Swiss Ueli Steck and German David Goettler had discovered the bodies of two climbers in blue ice during their acclimatization for Shishapangma South Face. The melting glacier would release the corpses soon. The description of clothes and packs left no doubt that it was the bodies of Alex Lowe and David Bridges, it was said.

Date

2. May 2016 | 15:48

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Steck and Goettler: Five questions, five answers

Ueli Steck (l.) and David Goettler

Ueli Steck (l.) and David Goettler

He couldn’t stop thinking about it. When the Swiss top climber Ueli Steck solo climbed the South Face of 8027-meter- high Shishapangma in only ten and a half hours five years ago, he discovered a possible new direct line. This spring, the 39-year-old – along with the 37-year-old German professional climber David Goettler – returned to the 2000-meter-high wall to have a try at the new route. If everything works perfectly, they plan to descend from the summit via the north side, thus traversing the eight-thousander.

Before heading off to Tibet, Ueli and David acclimatized in the Everest region in Nepal – including trail-running over extremely long distances. I sent them five questions to their Base Camp at the foot of Shishapangma South Face.

Ueli and David, the pictures which you published on Facebook in recent weeks, remind me of Speedy Gonzales or Road Runner, two cartoon characters of my childhood: continuously in high speed mode, because hunted. At the same time each of you let us know that the other is really, really fit. Honestly, who of you is actually rushing whom? Or from what are you trying to escape?

Date

1. May 2016 | 13:18

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Goettler and Co. plan new Everest route variant

David Goettler

David Goettler (© The North Face)

This year, the Tibetan north side of Mount Everest works like a magnet to German professional climbers. David Goettler has announced that he also wants to climb the highest mountain in the world from the north this spring, along with his German friend Daniel Bartsch and the Canadian Raphael Slawinski. “If everything runs perfectly, we want to try a variant or a new route. Others have to decide how it is called at the end”, the 36-year-old tells me on the phone. The planned ascent route runs near the normal route, first on the left, later crossing it between Camp 2 (7500 meters) and 3 (8300 meters), leading to the “Great Couloir” (also called Norton Couloir). “This would allow us to avoid possible traffic jams at the rocky steps on the normal route”, says David. The trio wants to climb without Sherpa support and without bottled oxygen.

Date

24. March 2015 | 21:19

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Goettler: Violent Sherpas poison atmosphere on Everest

David Goettler

David Goettler

More than 300 Everest dreams are gone. As many climbers returned home empty-handed after their expeditions had been cancelled after the avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall on Good Friday. One of them was David Goettler. The 35-year-old from the German town of Munich had wanted to climb the highest mountain in the world via the normal route on the Nepalese south side without bottled oxygen. Goettler was still acclimatizing when he heard the first still inconsistent reports about the avalanche. “Initially, I hoped that I might still be able to make an attempt”, David told me on the phone. Therefore, he first continued his acclimatization program. “But when I was on the summit of Island Peak (6000er in the Everest region) and wanted to sleep below the highest point, the news came that my expedition and all others would be cancelled.” He returned to Kathmandu.

Date

3. May 2014 | 13:14

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Goettler is going to climb Mount Everest

David Goettler(© The North Face)

David Goettler(© The North Face)

That was a short home leave. Just one month after his return from Nanga Parbat David Goettler has packed his bags again. His goal this spring: Mount Everest. “To climb Everest via the normal route without supplemental oxygen is challenging enough. That would be interesting”, David had told me last August when I had asked him whether the highest mountain in the world was an attractive goal for him. Now the 35-year-old climber is putting this project into action. He wants to climb Everest via the normal route on the Nepalese south side of the mountain, David writes me while trekking from Lukla to Namche Bazaar. “Without bottled oxygen and high porters.” I want to know whether he is a member of a team. “I and 600 others … ;-)”, replies Goettler. “As a team, I have only myself !”

Date

10. April 2014 | 14:21

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Goettler: “It was too close”

David during his summit attempt (© The North Face)

David during his summit attempt (© The North Face)

David Goettler is not only a fast climber, but also a speed responder. After I had written the report about the failed summit attempt on Nanga Parbat, I sent an email with some questions to the 35-year-old climber in Pakistan. I really didn’t expect a rapid response, because David had just arrived back at base camp and should actually need time to recover. However, an hour later I got the acoustic signal for a new message. His answers are rather brief, writes Goettler, “I’m still half on the mountain ;-).” Read it for yourself!

David, once again it was not to be. What a pity! A lack of your determination was not the reason.

No, I felt fit. But we also knew or noticed that the terrain up there was really challenging. This means that you must have still a lot of strength and concentration for the descent. In combination with only one reserve day  concerning the weather we decided that it was too close.

Date

1. March 2014 | 22:23

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Third summit push on Nanga Parbat

Moro (l.) and Goettler in high camp (© The North Face)

Moro (l.) and Goettler in high camp (© The North Face)

Endurance, strength, good conditions on the mountain, luck with the weather. These are the essential ingredients for a successful summit menu on Nanga Parbat. Everything has to fit together. If only one ingredient is poor or even lacking, you can forget the menu. The third summit attempt of the two expedition teams on the Rupal side of Nanga Parbat is on. Five climbers are trying their luck: the three Poles Tomasz Mackiewicz , Pawel Dunaj and Jacek Teler, the Italian Simone Moro and the German David Goettler. Tomasz is  already staying in Camp 3 on about 6700 meters. David has reached the lower  Camp 2.5. “The wind is dropping, and he is out the clouds”, reports Emilio Previtali, who is holding contact with David and the other summit aspirants from basecamp by radio. The five climbers want to set up Camp 4 above 7000 meters. From there – if everything fits – they will try to reach the 8125-meter-high summit on Saturday.

Date

27. February 2014 | 14:18

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David Goettler: “Morale is tiptop!”

David Goettler in basecamp (©The North Face)

David Goettler in basecamp (©The North Face)

Do the winter climbers find Nanga Parbat a hard nut to crack? A Polish expedition is on the 8000er in Pakistan for eight weeks now, an Italian-German Team for over six weeks. In the past week the second summit attempts of both teams failed. Simone Moro and David Goettler reached Camp 3, but returned because of the bad weather. I sent some questions to David in basecamp. The 35-year-old climber from the town of Munich replied promptly:

David, the second summit attempt was also unsuccessful, you stopped at 6800 meters. How difficult was it for you to turn back again?

This time it was a little harder. Because the weather was not so bad when we decided to turn around. But we knew that it wouldn’t work, and thus it was definitely the right decision. Also because it was really very cold! When we were still descending, clouds came in and it began to snow. Up on the mountain we would have had problems to orient ourselves. And on the following day the strong wind would have thwarted any summit attempt. All in all we have saved valuable power and avoided frostbite.

Date

18. February 2014 | 21:14

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David Goettler: “Step by Step”

David on Nanga Parbat (© The North Face)

David on Nanga Parbat (© The North Face)

For David Goettler,  it is the first winter expedition to an eight-thousander. And then actually to Nanga Parbat! The 8125-meter-high mountain and K 2 are the only two remaining 8000ers which are unclimbed in the cold season. The 35-year-old German has teamed up with the Italians Simone Moro and Emilio Previtali. They are trying to reach the summit via the Schell route, starting on the Rupal side of Nanga Parbat. Moro did three first winter ascents of 8000ers (Shishapangma in 2005, Makalu in 2009, Gasherbrum II in 2011). I get David at basecamp where the team is recovering after a few days on the mountain.

David, how do you spend your time?

Reading, writing emails, giving interviews. In addition we are enjoying good food three times a day. Days are passing by amazingly fast. In my tent I am also doing some yoga exercises in order not to degenerate completely.

It is your first winter expedition to an eight-thousander. You have been now on Nanga Parbat for three weeks. How does it feel, everything as expected?

Date

22. January 2014 | 16:51

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Goettler: Relations with Sherpas will remain well

Last metres to the summit of Makalu

Many are familiar with the view of Makalu, without being aware of it. On pictures taken from the summit of Mount Everest in direction of the Southeast Ridge you see in the background the shapely fifth highest mountain on earth. Just a few kilometres linear distance are lying between the two 8000ers, but actually they are worlds apart. This spring the headlines concerning Everest were overturning: first the brawl in Camp 2, then the 60-year-anniversary of the first ascent. Because of this I lost sight of an expedition of four German and a Swiss climber to Makalu.

Siegrist left expedition

David Göttler, Michael Waerthl, Hans Mitterer, Daniel Bartsch and Stephan Siegrist wanted to climb the mountain in Alpine style via the challenging west pillar. Siegrist had to cancel the expedition because he got severe headaches and vision disorders,  possibly due to a skull fracture that he had a few years earlier. The other four abandoned their original plan and ascended via the normal route. Waerthl returned because of icy fingers about 200 metres below the summit. The other three climbers reached the highest point at 8485 metres.

Date

6. August 2013 | 17:43

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