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48 hours, two German women, one summit: Mount Everest

South side of Mount Everest

It would not have taken much more for the two women from Germany to shake hands on the roof of the world. Within 48 hours Ingrid Schittich at first, then Susanne Müller-Zantop reached the 8850-meter-high summit of Mount Everest last spring: Schittich on 15 May from the Tibetan north side, Müller-Zantop on 17 May from the Nepalese south side. They didn’t know about each other. Billi Bierling, head of the mountaineering chronicle “Himalayan Database”, first drew their attention to the fact that they had narrowly missed each other on Everest.

Date

20. July 2018 | 15:56

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“School up!” – Building No. 3 is growing

Shyam Pandit (l.) at the construction site at Thulosirubari

The construction work is going smoothly,” writes Shyam Pandit, liaison man of the German aid organisation Nepalhilfe Beilngries” in Nepal. In Thulosirubari, a small mountain village about 70 kilometers east of the capital Kathmandu, the third part of the new school with eight additional classrooms is being built. The foundations are laid, the base plate is soon to be concreted. If all goes well, this third building could be ready by 2019. The first two buildings with classrooms for twelve school classes were – as reported – ceremonially inaugurated in March. At that time Ralf Dujmovits, the only German climber so far who stood on all 14 eight-thousanders, and I laid the foundation stone for the next construction phase in Thulosirubari.

Date

29. June 2018 | 10:00

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Lämmle after Makalu and Lhotse: “Tactics worked”

Thomas Lämmle on top of Lhotse

Having scaled the fifth and fourth highest mountain on earth, without bottled oxygen and a High-Altitude Sherpa by his side – the spring season in Nepal went like clockwork for the German climber Thomas Lämmle. The 52-year-old from the town of Waldburg in Baden-Württemberg summited the 8,485-meter-high Makalu on 13 May. Only eight days later, on 21 May, Thomas stood on top of the 8,516-meter-high Lhotse, in the immediate vicinity of Mount Everest. Lämmle has now scaled seven eight-thousanders after Cho Oyu (in 2003), Gasherbrum II (in 2005 and 2013), Manaslu (in 2008), Shishapangma (in 2013) and Mount Everest (in 2016). I asked him about his experiences.

Thomas, last year your four summit attempts on Makalu failed due to bad weather. How have you been during your successful summit bid this spring?

Date

6. June 2018 | 20:49

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Still no trace of Boyan Petrov

Rescue helicopters from Nepal at the foot of Shishapangma

Nobody puts it bluntly. But to be honest, the hope of finding the most successful Bulgarian high altitude climber Boyan Petrov alive on the eight-thousander Shishapangma in Tibet is beginning to fade. On 3 May, nine days ago, the 45-year-old was last seen by telescope from the base camp. Since then, there has been no trace of Boyan. Bad weather had delayed the rescue operation for days. On Saturday, two helicopters of the Nepali company Simrik Air, specialized in rescue operations, started to search for Petrov. Without success. What the crew members found, photographed and filmed as “suspicious objects” near Camp 3 at an altitude of about 7,300 meters, turned out to be stones and rocks when the material was subsequently viewed. The helicopter teams had to return to the Nepalese capital because the fuel ran out. “We are standby at Kathmandu for the same mission,” Simrik Air said. Also the rescue team on the slopes on the mountain, three Sherpas and three Chinese climbers, have not yet found Petrov. The rescuers were spending the night in Camp 2. On Sunday, the search is to be continued.

Date

12. May 2018 | 21:17

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Summit success on Lhotse, death on Dhaulagiri

Lhotse (in the sun)

The early eight-thousander bird catches the worm. Mingma Gyalje Sherpa once again lived up to his reputation as an early starter and booked the first eight-thousander summit success of this spring season on the 8516-meter-high Lhotse, the fourth highest mountain in the world. “We are on Lhotse summit now,” wrote the 32-year-old on Sunday morning on Facebook. “Thanks to ‘Madission‘ team for their hard work till 7800m and our team for further hard work till summit. Imagine Trek & Expedition team rocks.” Mingma is the head and expedition leader of the Nepalese operator.

Date

30. April 2018 | 10:56

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“School up!”: Back to work in Thulosirubari

The next construction phase begins

Three years ago, the earth shook in Nepal. Nearly 8,000 people were killed in the devastating earthquake on 25 April 2015 and the aftershocks in the following weeks. Even today, numerous traces of the earthquake can still be found in the capital Kathmandu, and the rural areas, which were particularly hard hit. But a lot has happened. For example in Thulosirubari. Thanks to your donations for our aid project “School up!”, last March – as reported – the first two buildings of the new school with a total of twelve classrooms could be inaugurated in the small mountain village, located about 70 kilometers east of the capital. On this occasion, German climber Ralf Dujmovits and I also laid the foundation for the next phase of construction. As you can see in the picture, sent to me by Dulal Tanka from Thulosirubari, the construction of the third building with eight more classrooms is now beginning.

Please continue to support us!

The toilet house

Also the toilet house behind the school is taking shape. You see, your money keeps working. However, we have not yet reached the finish line. Once again here is the bank account of “School up!”:

Recipient: Nepalhilfe Beilngries e.V.
Bank: Volksbank Bayern Mitte eG/Germany
IBAN: DE05 7216 0818 0004 6227 07
BIC/SWIFT-Code: GENODEF1INP
Intended purpose: Gerlinde and Ralf School

Thank you so much! You are great!

Date

28. April 2018 | 22:13

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Without fingers onto Annapurna

Kim and Co., in the background Annapurna I

“The man without fingers” wants to get his twelfth eight-thousander. Kim Hong-bin is the only foreign mountaineer to whom the Government of Nepal issued a permit for the eight-thousander Annapurna this spring. However, that does not mean that the 53-year-old Korean will be traveling alone. In the picture from the north side of the 8091-meter-high mountain, which was published by the South Korean newspaper No Cut News, I count 20 other people besides Hong-bin. “He probably has a large base camp support team,” Billi Bierling from the chronicle Himalayan Database writes to me, adding, that the Korean will be accompanied during his climb by four Sherpas.

Date

26. April 2018 | 16:03

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Double amputee from China tackles Everest

Xia Boyu

The decision of the Supreme Court of Nepal to overrule the government’s new Everest rules has cleared the way for him: the double amputee Xia Boyu from China will tackle the highest mountain on earth this spring from the Nepalese south side. “Yes, we got his permit”, Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, head and expedition leader of the Nepalese operator “Imagine Trek and Expedition” writes to me. As reported, the Supreme Court in Kathmandu had rejected in early March the government’s new rule not to issue permits to double-amputee climbers and blind people as discriminating. Mingma Gyalje had shaken his head at the government’s decision: “There are a lot of disabled climbers who are more capable than non-disabled.”

Date

31. March 2018 | 21:46

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Carlos Soria: Dhaulagiri, take nine!

Carlos Soria

Carlos Soria doesn’t give up. The now 79-year-old Spaniard set off again to Nepal to climb his 13th of the 14 eight-thousanders. Already for the ninth time, Carlos will tackle Dhaulagiri. Last year, Soria and Co. had had to abandon their only summit attempt in the upper part of the 8,167-meter-high mountain because they had missed the right route while the fog had become denser. Later heavy snow had impeded a second try. “This time I am sure that we will succeed,” said the probably fittest of all climbing seniors optimistically before his departure for Kathmandu.

Date

27. March 2018 | 11:59

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Maya Sherpa: Next try on Kangchenjunga

Maya Sherpa

Second attempt. This spring, Maya Sherpa, one of Nepal’s most famous and best female climbers, will tackle Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. “I am happy to go there again,“ the 40-year-old told me as we met in Kathmandu last week. “I have found sponsors who support me. However, my goal is not only to climb Kangchenjunga, I like to climb more 8,000-meter-peaks as the first Nepali woman.” In May 2017, Maya and her Nepalese friends and teammates Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita and Dawa Yangzum Sherpa had had to turn around on the 8,586-meter-high Kangchenjunga, about 300 meters below the highest point. The entire group of summit candidates had run out of ropes. “One of our Climbing Sherpas told us then that they had made the same mistake in spring 2013,” said Maya. “At that time, they went up to the summit. On descent, two Sherpas and three foreign climbers died because there was no rope, they were tired and it was extremely slippery in the upper part of the mountain, especially on the rock.”

Date

23. March 2018 | 9:37

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Ralf Dujmovits: “I’ve closed the chapter Everest”

Enthusiastic welcome für Ralf Dujmovits (r.)

A joint week in Nepal is behind Ralf Dujmovits and me. As reported before, we inaugurated the first two parts of the new school building in Thulosirubari, a small mountain village about 70 kilometers east of Kathmandu, which could be built thanks to our aid project “School up!”. And we laid the foundation for the second construction phase. In Kathmandu I conducted some interviews – you could already read those with the expedition operators Arnold Coster and Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, more will follow shortly. Ralf took the time to meet old acquaintances and to visit some of his favorite spots in the capital. The 56-year-old is so far the only German mountaineer who has scaled all 14 eight-thousanders. Only on Mount Everest in fall 1992 he used bottled oxygen. Later he tried seven times to climb the highest mountain in the world without breathing mask, seven times he failed to reach the summit – most recently in spring 2017 at 8,580 meters on the Tibetan north side of the mountain.

Ralf, we are now here in Kathmandu, not far from Mount Everest, about 160 kilometers as the crow flies. Is it not itching you a bit?

Not at all, at the moment. I have completed this story for me. Of course, I follow what’s happening on Everest. This is still very exciting. But for myself, I have closed the chapter Everest. 

Date

21. March 2018 | 22:22

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Mingma Gyalje Sherpa: “Discounters are dealing with people’s life”

Mingma Gyalje Sherpa

His secret of success? “Actually this is my job, because I run a company. So I need to lead my clients to the summit,” Mingma Gyalje Sherpa tells me as we sit opposite each other in a café in Kathmandu. In recent years, the 31-year-old has blossomed to the high-flyer among the Sherpas. In fall 2015, he succeeded the first ascent of the West Face of the 6685-meter-high Chobutse in Rolwaling, his home valley – and he did it alone. It was the first solo ascent of a Sherpa in Nepal. Even as an expedition leader, he made headlines. In 2017, no one climbed so often above the magical 8,000-meter-mark as Mingma. The head of the expedition operator “Imagine Trek and Expedition” entered the death zone six times: on Dhaulagiri, Makalu, K2, Broad Peak and twice on Nanga Parbat. Four times he reached the summit (Dhaulagiri, Makalu, K2, Nanga Parbat), the fifth ascent on Broad Peak is disputed. “I will return to this mountain this year,” Mingma announces. “Actually I am quite sure that we made the summit. But this time, I want to reach the highest point of Broad Peak without any doubt, on the one hand to end the debate, on the other for my own satisfaction.”

Date

18. March 2018 | 18:56

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Coster: “Too busy in the Khumbu Icefall“

Arnold Coster

The Everest spring season is on. This Saturday, eight “Icefall Doctors“ will be celebrating a puja in the base camp on the Nepalese south side of the highest mountain in the world, a Buddhist ceremony, during which the gods are asked for their blessing. Next week, the Sherpas, who are specialized in this task, will prepare this year’s route through the Khumbu Icefall. At the beginning of April the first commercial teams are expected in the base camp. “I’m wondering how busy it will be on the south side with every year we see the numbers increasing significantly,“ says Arnold Coster, when I meet him today in Kathmandu. “And I wonder how many actually switch to the Tibetan side.“

Date

15. March 2018 | 20:00

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“School up!”: Move to the new buildings

The first two buildings are finished

When I saw the pictures, I found myself almost in tears – for joy! The year 2018 could hardly begin any better. This week I received the news from Thulosirubari that the students have moved from provisional corrugated-iron classrooms, that had been built after the devastating earthquake in Nepal in April 2015, to the first two finished buildings of the new school. A big day for our aid project “School up!” which I had launched along with the climbers Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Ralf Dujmovits more than two and a half years ago!

Date

4. January 2018 | 20:41

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New Everest rules: Using a sledgehammer to crack a nut

Mount Everest

No more permits for solo climbers, blind and double amputees – following the argument of the Nepalese government, this makes the highest mountains in the world safer. A look at the facts shows that a sledgehammer is to be used to crack a nut. For example, let’s take a look at what’s happening on Mount Everest. The Himalayan Database (now freely accessible to all, thus also to the government of Nepal) has so far recorded 1967 expeditions to the highest mountain in the world. Of these, only six – say 0.3 percent – were classified as solo expeditions.

Date

3. January 2018 | 18:12

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