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The dream of becoming a model school

Plastering in the new rooms

Yesterday was the second anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Nepal. About 9,000 people died, more than 22,000 were injured, hundreds of thousands of homes collapsed or were severely damaged and thus became uninhabitable. Many people in the most affected mountain regions are still living in shelters. In the village of Thulosirubari in Sindhupalchowk District, about 70 kilometers east of the capital Kathmandu, has been a hive of construction activity over recent months. The donations for our aid project “School up!” have made it possible to start building a new school for more than 500 students, the construction is operated by the Nepalhilfe Beilngries. The old school had been so badly damaged by the earthquake that it later had had to be demolished. In recent weeks there have been temporary supply bottlenecks for constructions material, as well as a lack of water to mix concrete. Since the school ground is located on a hill, the water has to be pumped up or – if the pumps fail – even be carried up.

Date

26. April 2017 | 14:35

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“School up!” A new school is built

Week by week, I get pictures which show that the construction works for the new school in Thulosirubari really proceed. The old school in the small village, 70 kilometers east of the Nepali capital Kathmandu, had been damaged so badly by the earthquake on 25 April 2015 that it had had to be demolished. Even if we have not yet reached our target – without your donations for our aid project “School up!” we would not be where we are now. See for yourselves!

Date

1. December 2016 | 17:09

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Thundu Sherpa dies on Ama Dablam

Lhakpa Thundu Sherpa (1970-2016)

Lhakpa Thundu Sherpa (1970-2016)

Once again the earth trembled on Monday in the Khumbu region around Mount Everest. The tremors with an intensity of 5.4, with the epicenter 19 kilometers west of Namche Bazaar, normally would not have caused panic, because small to medium scale aftershocks are almost everyday routine in Nepal after the devastating earthquake on 25 April 2015: 475 tremors with an intensity of 4 or more have been registered since then. Major damage was not reported after Monday’s quake. But there was also sad news: Due to the tremors Lhakpa Thundu Sherpa lost his life while climbing the 6814-meter-high Ama Dablam.

Date

29. November 2016 | 17:22

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The first stone is lying

The cornerstone was set

The cornerstone was set

Yesterday, Sunday, was a very special day for the people of Thulosirubari. One who made a mark for the future, a sign of hope. In the small village in Sindhupalchowk District, about 70 kilometers east of the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, the cornerstone for a new school was set. The old “Gerlinde and Ralf School” of the German aid organization Nepalhilfe Beilngries (NHB) had been so badly damaged by the devastating earthquake on 25 April 2015 that it later had to be demolished. In the summer of 2015, I had initiated, along with the professional climbers Ralf Dujmovits and Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, the donation campaign “School up!”, with the goal to rebuild the school in Thulosirubari as soon as possible. Therefore yesterday was for us three a special day too – and also for all of you who have donated for “School up!”: Without your support, no foundation would have been laid yesterday.

Date

26. September 2016 | 19:24

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On your mark, ready, …

Schoolchildren in Thulosirubari

Schoolchildren in Thulosirubari

… go! Not only Olympic athletes are currently waiting for this call. People in Thulosirubari are in the starting blocks too. Hopefully we are only few days away from the start of the construction of the new school at this small village in Sindhupalchowk District in Nepal. According to the German aid organization “Nepalhilfe Beilngries” finally all bureaucratic barriers have been broken down so that the school for 700 children and adolescents in Thulosirubari can be rebuilt. That has been and will be the goal of the aid project “School up!” that I had launched along with the professional climbers Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner from Austria and Ralf Dujmovits from Germany a year ago. The “Gerlinde and Ralf School”, which had been inaugurated only in 2009, was so badly damaged by the devastating earthquake in Nepal on 25 April 2015 that it had to be demolished.

Date

9. August 2016 | 15:20

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Checkmate at Annapurna summit

Jost Kobusch in Annapurna Base Camp

Jost Kobusch in Annapurna Base Camp

It sounds like an April fool’s joke with a month’s delay. Before the German Jost Kobuschas reported – reached the 8,091 meter-high summit of Annapurna on 1 May, he, according to his own words, played a game of chess against the Israeli climber Nadav Ben-Yehuda just below the highest point. “We had previously played at least two games every day at Base Camp during the periods of bad weather,” says Jost. So the idea of a chess duel at the top was born. Nadav, who used bottled oxygen, reached the highest point just before Jost, who climbed without breathing mask. “When we met just below the summit, I said to him: Wait! We still have to play a game of chess,” the 23-year-old German tells me. “We played on my smartphone, 20 meters below the summit.”

Date

13. May 2016 | 19:29

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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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Minute of silence in Everest Base Camp

The avalanche from Pumori on 25 April 2015

The avalanche from Pumori on 25 April 2015

At 11:56 a.m. all hell broke loose. Exactly a year ago today, a magnitude 7,8 earthquake struck Nepal. About 9,000 people were killed, 23,000 were injured. However, these were only the victims registered by the government, it was probably more. Also on Mount Everest many people died on 25 April 2015. The quake triggered a huge avalanche on the nearby seven-thousander Pumori. It hit Everest Base Camp, 19 people lost their lives. On this anniversary of the disaster, climbers and the staff of the infirmary “Everest ER” gathered at the foot of the highest mountain on earth for a minute of silence – at 11:56 a.m.

Date

25. April 2016 | 15:25

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Helicopter transport flights to Everest high camps

Helicopter starting from the airstrip Syangboche above Namche Bazaar

Helicopter starting from the airstrip Syangboche above Namche Bazaar

Time does not stand still, even in Khumbu. Two things have changed dramatically in the region around Mount Everest between my first visit in 2002 and my second last March. Firstly, the sanitary facilities – on average – have become much more modern and cleaner than 14 years ago. Secondly, the aircraft noise has increased significantly. On a clear day, helicopters are flying – as I felt, steadily – through the valley from Lukla to Namche Bazaar and also further up towards Everest Base Camp.

Date

23. April 2016 | 12:17

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Miss Hawley: “I’m just a chronicler”

Miss Hawley in her home in Kathmandu

Miss Hawley in her home in Kathmandu

When I saw the Beetle, I knew I was right. I knew the street, but had no house number, only a rough description of where Miss Hawley is living in Kathmandu. But there it stood in the courtyard: the light blue VW Beetle, built in 1963. “The car is right, of course. Those Beetles are just incredible durable,” says the legendary chronicler of Himalayan mountaineering. For decades, the US-American has driven with the light blue car in front of the hotels in Kathmandu to interview climbers about their expeditions in the Himalayas. However, the 92-year-old is no longer driving her Beetle by herself, she has a driver. “I can’t drive a car with a walker”, says Elizabeth Hawley and grins. Since she broke her hip, she is not quite as mobile as before.

Date

5. April 2016 | 9:46

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Securing Everest jobs of the future

Dawa Gyaljen Sherpa

Dawa Gyaljen Sherpa

He is one of the Sherpas who stay well clear of Mount Everest this year. “I simply haven’t got the time,” says Dawa Sherpa Gyaljen, when I meet him in a cafe in Kathmandu during my visit Nepal. The 29-year-old is working for a trekking operator. “Maybe I’ll get the chance in 2017 again. I have been asked if I would lead an Everest team next year. Let’s see whether I can take as much vacation.” The Sherpa, who was born in the Khumbu region in a small village west of Namche Bazaar, has reached the highest point on earth already four times: in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009. The upcoming spring season could set the course for the future, Dawa believes.

Date

2. April 2016 | 8:00

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Safe in Khumbu

Trekking in Khumbu

Trekking in Khumbu

Safety is primarily a feeling. Often we don’t even realize the lurking objective danger. And if we do, then usually only if we have no other option than facing the danger. A week ago I have returned from my trekking in Khumbu, the region around Mount Everest. Eleven months have passed since the devastating earthquake in Nepal. I think that my senses were quite sharpened because it was an objective of my journey to inform myself about the consequences of the quake. I can send all the people who want to travel to the region for trekking or climbing on their way with my experience: I felt perfectly safe in Khumbu.

Date

31. March 2016 | 13:27

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The Sherpas’s ability to forget

First glance on Everest (l.) and Lhotse

First glance on Everest (l.) and Lhotse

“I don’t have any ambitions to climb Mount Everest,” says Ang Dorjee Sherpa. “Too dangerous! Finally, I have a wife and three children.” However, the 47-year-old was a member of Everest expeditions twice. At the end of 1991, Ang Dorjee worked as “Mail Man” for a Japanese expedition who wanted to climb the mighty Southwest Face for the first time in winter. The Sherpa brought the news of the failure at 8,350 meters as “postal runner” into the valley. Two years later the Japanese were back again – and successfully: A total of six climbers reached the summit on a partially new route, the first team on 18 December 1993. The first ascent of the wall in (meteorological, not calendrical) winter was done. That time, Ang Dorjee did not play the postman, but worked as a cook for the Japanese.

Date

17. March 2016 | 15:07

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Dorje’s Everest sabbatical

Dorje Sherpa in front of his lodge in Phakding

Dorje Sherpa in front of his lodge in Phakding

Dorje Sherpa is familiar with Everest disasters. In 1996, 20 years ago, he reached the summit of the highest mountain on earth for the first time. Then he belonged to the IMAX film team of the American David Breashears, when a storm in the summit area killed eight climbers within 24 hours. “We were then in Camp 2 at 6,400 meters”, the 50-year-old tells me in his “Buddha Lodge” in the village of Phakding, which lies on the popular trekking route to Everest Base Camp.

Date

16. March 2016 | 13:08

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Still no light at the end of the tunnel

Earthquake wounds in Chautara

Earthquake wounds in Chautara

Chautara appears as if the devastating earthquake had hit it recently, not almost eleven months before. About 15,000 people are living in the city at an altitude of 1,500 meters, the administrative headquarter of Sindhupalchowk District, which was particularly hard-hit by the earthquake on 25 April last year. On the main street many ruined houses still witness to the disaster that killed more than 3,500 people in this mountain region. In many villages about 90 percent of the houses collapsed. The cleanup is progressing slowly. Too heavy are the wounds that the earthquake has ripped, not only at the buildings, but also for the city’s inhabitants. “There is still a very great problem of health,” says doctor Sabina Parajuli. “Those who were injured that time, have not fully recovered because of lots of problems, especially in their limbs. They were operated at that time and not able to do their normal activites. They were the only family members with income, but they are not working and are not getting money. And the other family members are busy with taking care of them.” In addition, infectious diseases such as vomiting or diarrhea spread quickly because the people live in crowded shelters.

Date

15. March 2016 | 18:52

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