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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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Nepal adopts new rules for Everest and Co.

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

The time has come. According to reports of the newspapers “Kathmandu Post”  and “The Himalayan Times”, the government of Nepal has adopted some new rules for expeditions – “to improve the safety of the climbers”, as Tourism Secretary Maheswor Neupane said. The new rules apply to all mountains above 6,600 meters – these fall under the responsibility of the government – and will be in force already in the spring season 2018.

Date

30. December 2017 | 11:33

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Himalayan Database: Treasure chest open to all

Santa Claus has brought an early Christmas gift for mountain lovers from all over the world. Since today, the new version of the Himalayan Database, the electronic “Bible of Expedition Mountaineering in Nepal”, can be downloaded for free. Till now a CD ROM had to be bought to use the archive. Initially, the possibility to free download this extensive data collection should have been available already in November. However, there was a slight delay because the American Richard Salisbury, who added the data of the 2017 spring season, still had to wait for information on the Sherpas’ summit successes.

Date

5. December 2017 | 13:34

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Sung Taek Hong wants to come back

Sung Taek Hong on Lhotse South Face

The half dozen is full. For the sixth time, Sung Taek Hong returns empty-handed from Lhotse to South Korea, for the fifth time from the South Face of the 8,516-meter-high mountain in Nepal. As already reported, also the second summit attempt failed. Despite strong winds, Hong had ascended again to Camp 4 at 8,250 meters on November 20 and spent a night there in a broken tent, Kyu-po Pyun, spokesman of the Korean expedition, wrote to me. Hong “was aware that safe climbing is not possible anymore. He decided to descend.”

Date

25. November 2017 | 22:21

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New route on Chulu West: “Less commerce, more mountain”

On ascent via the West Ridge

It does not have to be the Lhotse South Face. For strong and ambitious climbers, who neither belong to the “extremes” nor the professionals, the Himalayas also offer other attractive destinations to experience great adventure. Three of my buddies from the first ascent of Kokodak Dome in 2014 proved that in Nepal this fall.  On 19 October, Jürgen Schütz, André Günzel and Manuel Möller, together with the Nepalese Dawa Gyalje Sherpa and Pasang Gomba Sherpa, succeeded the first ascent of the West Ridge of Chulu West. The 6,419 meter high mountain is located in the area around the eight-thousander Annapurna. Chulu West, first climbed in 1952 by a Japanese expedition, is a popular “trekking mountain” without major technical difficulties – but this only applies to the normal route via the Northeast Ridge.

Date

24. November 2017 | 17:03

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Lhotse South Face expedition reportedly failed

In the wall

Also the second summit attempt of the South Korean Sung Taek Hong and the Spaniard Jorge Egocheaga on the South Face of the 8,516-meter-high Lhotse in Nepal has apparently failed. Even though they were not able to reach the summit of Lhotse, “they made a safe climbing and finally they all are back safely,” writes Lakpa Sherpa, managing director of “Pioneer Adventure Treks & Expedition” on Instagram. The Nepalese operator had deployed four Sherpas for the South Korean expedition. A confirmation by the South Koreans is still pending, as well as the information, how far up Sung Taek Hong and Co. climbed this time in the wall and why they allegedly turned around.

Date

22. November 2017 | 14:10

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First summit attempt on Lhotse failed

High up in the Lhotse South Face

Once again, the Lhotse South Face in Nepal was a too hard nut to crack. A first summit attempt of the South Korean Sung Taek Hong and the Spaniard Jorge Egocheaga in early November ended in Camp 4 at 8,250 meters. This is what Kyu-po Pyun, spokesman of the expedition, writes to me. Hong and his team entered the wall on 29 October. The South Korean had hoped that the sun and wind would have removed the snow out of the wall. Instead, according to Pyun, it was unexpectedly snowy on 30 and 31 October so that the climbers first had to free the ropes that they had fixed during the previous ascent from snow and ice. The team therefore made slow progress, the work tired them. Then the next setback: The tents in Camp 2 (at 7,200 m) and Camp 3 (7800 m) were ripped, the poles broken, the food and gas cartridges which they had deposited there before were blown off the mountain.

Date

9. November 2017 | 17:43

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Russians make first ascent of Phungi

Ascent (red) and descent route (green)

Who says that there are no playgrounds for top climbers in the Himalayas anymore? Yury Koshelenko and Aleksei Lonchinskii have erased a blank spot on the map of the six-thousanders. 0n 28 October the two Russians succeeded the first ascent of the 6,538-meter-high Phungi, located west of the eight-thousander Manaslu in Nepal. The 54-year-old Koshelenko and  Lonchinskii, aged 35, climbed on a rather direct route through the about  1,500-meter-high Southeast Face of the mountain. It took them three days for the ascent in Alpine style and two more days for the descent on a different route.

Date

6. November 2017 | 17:42

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