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Himalayan chronicle 2.0

Mount Everest, Lhotse, Makalu (from l. to r.)

It is the old road, but due to the increased traffic the (digital) emergency lane is used too. From now on,  expedition teams heading for Nepal can register with the Himalayan Database, the high mountaineering chronicle founded by the legendary Elizabeth Hawley,  also online before setting off, for example via Facebook. “We will continue to meet as many teams in Kathmandu as we can. However, it has become almost impossible in the last few years to interview everyone personally,” Billi Bierling explains the new procedure.

Date

2. March 2017 | 9:09

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Billi Bierling on Cho Oyu: 3 questions, 3 answers

Billi in Tibet

Billi in Tibet

Anyone who has been on expedtion in Nepal more than once should have met her. Billi Bierling has been working as an assistent to Elizabeth Hawley, the legendary chronicler of mountaineering in the Himalayas, for many years. The meanwhile 92-year-old American is regarding Billi as her successor as leader of the Himalayan Database. What many people don’t know: the 49-year-old German does not only visit arriving and departing expedition members in the hotels of Kathmandu to interview them for the chronicle but is an ambitious high altitude mountaineer herself. She has climbed four eight-thousanders so far: in 2009 Mount Everest, in 2011 Lhotse and Manaslu (she reached this summit without bottled oxygen) and in 2014 Makalu. This fall she is tackling the 8188-meter-high Cho Oyu in Tibet. “I have chosen Cho Oyu for this year because I was here eleven years ago and reached just Camp 2 (at 7,200 meters). It was my first eight-thousander, and at that time I was convinced that I am not strong enough for such high mountains“, Billi writes to me. “Now I’m here again, and I really hope that the sixth highest mountain on earth will accept me this time. And like on Manaslu, I would like to reach the summit without supplemental oxygen.”

Billi, Cho Oyu might be your fifth eight-thousander. In preparation for expedition you did hundreds of kilometers mountain running. How high do you estimate your chance of success?

Date

21. September 2016 | 10:21

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Billi Bierling about Everest fraud: “It is sad”

Mount Everest

Mount Everest

The truth will out. According to the Kathmandu-based newspaper “The Himalayan Times”, the Nepalese Tourism Ministry has initiated sanctions on the Indian couple that – as reported before – has obviously submitted faked summit pictures to get their Everest certificates. Most likely these certificates will be canceled and the cheat climbers might be banned from mountaineering in Nepal for up to ten years. “Department of Tourism will also take necessary action against the Liaison Officer, Climbing Sherpas and expedition organizing company,” DoT director Sudarshan Prasad Dhakal told the “Himalayan Times”. The two Sherpas who had supported Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod on Everest were still “out of reach”, said the operator Makalu Adventure blaming the Sherpas for the goof-up.

The staff of Himalayan Database, the mountaineering chronicle of legendary Elizabeth Hawley, is also checking the case. I’ve contacted Billi Bierling. The 49-year-old German journalist and climber is the designated successor of Miss Hawley, aged 92.

Billi, you and your colleagues from the Himalayan Database have also obviously been deceived by the Indian couple when you interviewed them. What’s about the much-trumpeted climbers’ honor?

Date

5. July 2016 | 13:55

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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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Cleo on Nanga Parbat

Summit of Nanga Parbat

Summit of Nanga Parbat

She arrived like out of nowhere. Suddenly these days, Cleonice Pacheco, called “Cleo” Weidlich was standing with her Sherpa team at Base Camp on the Rupal side – to the surprise of most observers. The Brazilian-born US citizen had even made no secret of the fact that she also wanted to try this year to scale Nanga Parbat for the first in winter. But hardly anyone, including myself, had taken notice. And the few who had noticed it might have thought that the 52-year-old had given up her plan. Finally, she appeared in Base Camp only at a relatively late stage, when the Polish “Nanga Dream” team was already preparing to leave after their failed attempt.

Date

28. January 2016 | 16:48

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The other dead man from Annapurna

Annapurna I

Annapurna I

Dead and gone. Why only are single deaths of Sherpa climbers in the Himalayas swept under the carpet so quickly? Almost as if it was just a work accident. According to the motto: It’s sad, but unfortunately it sometimes happens. The most recent example was the accident on the eight-thousander Annapurna four weeks ago. In the days that followed, many obits of the 36-year-old Finn Samuli Mansikka were published. For sure, he had deserved each of them. Samuli was not only an excellent climber – Annapurna was his tenth eight-thousander, eight of which he climbed without bottled oxygen – but, according to all reports of his mates, a cool guy, always up for fun or ready for party. However, we learned next to nothing about the other climber who died. It was 35-year-old Pemba Sherpa, was said in a few reports. Allegedly he was born near the eight-thousander Makalu and was called “Technical Pemba” due to his technical climbing skills. About what Pemba had previously done as a mountaineer, the information diverged widely. I was not content with this confusion.

Date

23. April 2015 | 9:56

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