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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 ascend 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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Thomas Huber: “I’ll travel with a laughing heart”

Thomas Huber will set off again

Thomas Huber will set off again

Incredible – that describes Thomas Huber’s current life quite aptly. No wonder that the 49-year-old German top climber uses this word very often when we talk on the phone. Thomas was, as he himself says, “incredibly lucky” when he survived his 16-meter-fall from a rock face on 5 July. He recovered so “incredibly fast” that he – as initially planned before his fall – will shortly go “with incredible joy” on expedition to Pakistan. Truly incredible! The aim of the travel is the north side of the 7,145-meter-high granite giant Latok I in the Karakoram. Huber’s team includes Toni Gutsch – who, in 1997, first climbed the West Face of Latok II (7108 m) along with the Huber brothers and US climber Conrad Anker – and Sebastian Brutscher.

Date

13. August 2016 | 9:17

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Thomas Huber is on the mend

Thomas Huber is on his feet again

Thomas Huber is on his feet again

“I already feel a lot better again,” Thomas Huber writes to me from the hospital in the Bavarian town of Traunstein. If that’s not good news! After all, the 49-year-old German top climber – as reported yesterday – had fallen twelve meters deep from a rock face on the Brendlberg near the village of Scheffau. According to the German website bgland24.de, the accident happened when Huber was abseiling. Thomas was standing on a small ledge, unclipped from the belay to take another rope, when he lost his balance. This could have ended in catastrophe. Probably owing only to “1000 guardian angels” (Thomas) and his instinct, nothing worse happened to him.

Date

9. July 2016 | 17:19

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Thomas Huber seriously injured in a fall

Thomas Huber

Thomas Huber

“Contrary to all the reports: I am okay,” Thomas Huber writes on Facebook. “I had 1000 guardian angels.” According to the website bgland24.de, the 49-year-old German top climber fell 20 meters deep from a rock wall on the Brendlberg in the Berchtesgaden region in Bavaria, when he was preparing for filming on Tuesday. Thomas meanwhile said it was a 12-meter-fall. He had opened a new route in the wall in late May. The climber was taken to the hospital of the town of Traunstein. Thomas is said to have suffered a fracture of the skull in the fall. Reportedly he was immediately operated for a blood clot.

Date

8. July 2016 | 11:24

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Alexander Huber: “Gamblers have never got far in the mountains”

Alexander Huber in Innsbruck

Alexander Huber in Innsbruck

The Huber brothers will continue to go on joint expeditions, but probably not to Latok I. Whereas Thomas Huber raved about the still unclimbed North Face of the 7,145-meter-high granite mountain in the Karakoram when I met him three weeks ago, his younger brother Alexander seems to have definitely written off the project due to their experiences last summer. I talked to the 46-year-old climber at the Alpine Trade Fair in Innsbruck last week.

Alexander, on Latok III, during your acclimatization for climbing the North Face of Latok I, you were are almost blown out of the wall by the blast wave of an ice avalanche. Your brother told me that never before it had been so close. Have you felt like he did?

It was definitely close. We had noticed the serac and therefore placed our camp far away from it. We were lucky that we had dug out a small platform to position the tents perfectly. The small snow edge of this platform has saved our lives. Otherwise we would have been blown away. In this respect, our risk management worked. But it was much, much closer than I ever imagined. And that’s shocking.

Date

13. November 2015 | 11:04

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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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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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Huber brothers try to climb Latok I North Face

Alexander Huber

Alexander Huber

2013 was an unusual year for Alexander Huber. The younger of the two Huber brothers was not on expedition, in contrast to his brother Thomas. Instead, the 45-year-old climber published a book (there is no English version yet), in which Alexander commits to fear as open as probably no climber did before. I met him at Leverkusen near my hometown of Cologne where he was holding a lecture. 

Alexander, when will we see you on expedition again?

The next expedition is coming soon. By mid-June we will start to the Karakoram. Let’s see what will happen.

Do you reveal your plan?

Date

2. April 2014 | 13:06

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