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Shishapangma South Face, take two!

Shishapangma South Face

This wall has enthused him. The second spring in a row, the German professional climber David Goettler will try to open a new route through the South Face of the 8027-meter-high Shishapangma in Tibet. After his failed attempt in 2016 with the Swiss Ueli Steck, the 38-year-old is now on the road with Hervé Barmasse. The 39-year-old Italian is a very experienced climber who has made headlines in recent years, especially with new routes on his home mountain, the Matterhorn. Hervé has also succeeded spectacular first ascents in the Karakoram and in Patagonia. Barmasse has not yet scaled an eight-thousander. I got a hold of Goettler on the phone, just before his departure to the Himalayas, on the way to the airport.

David, you’re just on your way to Nepal. What is your feeling?

Date

5. April 2017 | 16:07

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Ralf Dujmovits: “My definitely last Everest attempt”

Ralf Dujmovits

Never say Never Again! This is not only the title of an old James Bond film but could also stand for Ralf Dujmovits’ personal story on Mount Everest. The first and so far only German, who has scaled all 14 eight-thousanders, had climbed the highest mountain on earth on his very first attempt in fall 1992. Due to bad weather, however, he had used bottled oxygen above the South Col. “I was very young at the time. It was a mistake,” says Ralf today.

After all, he climbed the other 13 eight-thousanders without breathing mask. And so he later tried to wipe out this Everest mistake again and again. In vain. In 1996, 2005, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2015 he returned without summit success, for various reasons. This spring, the 55-year-old wants to give it a try again. For the eighth time, he will travel to Mount Everest, the fifth time to the Tibetan north side of the mountain. He will acclimatize in Nepal with an ascent of the 6,501-meter-high Cholatse in the Khumbu area, along with his Canadian partner Nancy Hansen. Ralf has now arrived in Kathmandu. I spoke with him shortly before he left to Nepal.

Ralf, I think, it’s allowed to say, that you and Everest have a relationship.

Date

28. March 2017 | 16:59

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Burke fails again on Burke Khang

Bill Burke in front of Burke Khang (the lower summit on the right)

Something seems to be wrong with “his” mountain. The third year in a row, the 6942-meter-high Burke Khang was not first climbed by the man, after whom the mountain in the Everest area is named. Bill Burke called off the expedition, this time even without having set foot on the almost seven-thousander. A two-day snow storm had caused a lot of fresh snow in the Gokyo Valley. In addition, the weather forecast for the remaining time of the expedition predicted storm with gusts up to hurricane force. “Plowing through waist-high snow in extremely vertical 75 plus degree terrain at high altitude is one thing,” Burke writes in his blog. “Doing so facing winds exceeding 75 mph in subzero wind-chill temperatures would be an act of suicide.”

Date

23. March 2017 | 17:26

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Steck before Everest expedition: “Rather late than early”

Ueli Steck

He looks forward, not back. “I will never forget what happened on Everest in 2013,” the Swiss top climber Ueli Steck tells me. “But I believe I will have absolutely no problem with it. It’s over. I’m very motivated and I’ll go with a very good feeling.” In spring 2013, a Sherpa mob had attacked Steck, the Italian Simone Moro and the Briton Jonathan Griffith and had threatened them with death. This spring, Ueli will return to the highest mountain on earth. His goal: the traverse of Mount Everest and Lhotse. The 40-year-old will climb with Tenji Sherpa, with whom he had already scaled Everest without bottled oxygen in 2012. The 24-year-old belongs to “a new generation of Sherpas, who really enjoy climbing and are not only interested in doing business,” says Ueli. “I’m really looking forward to being en route with him.”

As reported, Steck had completed an intensive training camp with the German David Goettler and the Italian Hervé Barmasse in the Khumbu area in February. Subsequently, Ueli returned to Switzerland for a few weeks. He will set off to Kathmandu on 8 April.

Ueli, during the training Camp in Nepal in February you ran and climbed a total of about 250 kilometers with 15,000 meters in elevation. How much has been added since then?

Date

21. March 2017 | 15:18

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Dominik Mueller: “There will be more climbers on Everest”

North side of Everest in the last daylight

It could be a record season on Mount Everest. After the successful 2016 season, experts are expecting a run on the highest mountain on earth – especially since many climbers want to use their extended permits from 2014 (valid until 2019) and from 2015 (which will run out this year). In 2014, the season in Nepal had been finished prematurely after an avalanche accident in the Khumbu Icefall with 16 deaths. In 2015, there had been no ascents on both sides of the mountain due to the devastating earthquake in Nepal.

Dominik Mueller, head of the German expedition operator Amical alpin, will set off to Everest with a “small but strong team” on 8 April. Three clients, four Climbing Sherpas and he himself will try to reach the 8,850-meter-high summit via the normal route on the Tibetan north side. “I will use bottled oxygen because I believe that I can only support other people as best as possible when using a breathing mask,” says the 46-year-old. “Anyone who climbs Everest without supplemental oxygen is so preoccupied with himself that he probably has no resources left to look after others.” I talked to him about the upcoming season.

Dominik, with what expectations do you set off to the Himalayas?

Date

18. March 2017 | 15:44

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“School up!”: Second floor plate almost finished

Plate of the second floor

The relatively dry winter in the Nepalese district Sindhupalchowk has played into the hands of our aid project “School up!”. The construction work for the new school in the village of Thulosirubari, about 70 kilometers east of Kathmandu, could be continued almost without interruption. Meanwhile, the plate of the second floor is practically finished. The goal of completing the construction work (except for the painting) before the monsoon starts in summer seems realistic. The constructors of the new large Berlin airport who have not come to an end for years could take an example of such effectiveness (in Nepal!). Here are some more pictures:

Date

10. March 2017 | 14:20

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Chasing the Everest age record

Min Bahadur Sherchan

Why does a 85-year-old need to climb Mount Everest? For world peace. For environmental protection. For the self-confidence of old people. As an inspiration for the young. All these alleged reasons had to serve when, earlier this week, Min Bahadur Sherchan officially announced in Kathmandu that he would try to reach the 8850-meter-summit this spring. The real and only issue is to regain the Everest age record from Yuichiro Miura. In 2013, the Japanese, then aged 80, had replaced Sherchan as “Everest Methuselah”. For five years, the Nepalese had previously led the record list after standing on the highest mountain on earth at the age of 76 years and 340 days.

Date

9. March 2017 | 14:10

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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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Liaison officer dies of high altitude sickness

Mount Everest

Mount Everest

Death on the Everest winter expedition: However, none of the climbers died but a government official. According to the Kathmandu-based newspaper “The Himalayan Times” the liaison officer, who was to accompany the winter expedition of the Basque Alex Txikon on behalf of the Tourism Ministry, died of high altitude sickness. The man passed away on the flight from Dukla (4,600 meters high) to Lukla (2860 meters) where he was to be treated in the hospital. The Spaniards Alex Txikon and Carlos Rubio want to climb Mount Everest without bottled oxygen this winter. The team has meanwhile – as reported – pitched up Camp 1 at 6,050 meters above the Khumbu Icefall.

Date

17. January 2017 | 16:45

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Txikon and Co. reach Everest BC

Alex Txikon in Everest Base Camp

Alex Txikon in Everest Base Camp

Ready to go. “We are already at the Base Camp,” Alex Txikon writes on Twitter from the Nepalese south side of Mount Everest.  The Basque climber and his companions have pitched their tents in the 5360-meter-high Base Camp at the foot of the Khumbu Icefall. For one week, the team had trekked from Lukla via the Khumbu region to BC. Txikon reported on dry but cold winter weather.

Date

5. January 2017 | 15:08

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Winter attempt on Manaslu

Eilsabeth Revol in Manaslu BC

Eilsabeth Revol in Manaslu BC

And another winter expedition. After it had looked for a long time as if the eight-thousanders would stay in winter sleep this time, now at least two of the highest mountains in the world are visited in the cold season. As reported, the two Spaniards Alex Txikon and Carlos Rubio will try to climb Mount Everest without bottled oxygen. They are expected in Base Camp shortly after the turn of the year. The Frenchwoman Elisabeth Revol has already pitched up her tents at the foot of the 8,163-meter-high Manaslu in Nepal.

Date

30. December 2016 | 18:58

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“School up!”: Construction work continues even in winter

Foundation work almost finished

Foundation work almost finished

“We are so happy seeing the re-construction – and that the building is designed to resist earthquakes,” says Hari Bikram, the 43-year-old headteacher of Thulosirubari. The construction work in the small mountain village 70 kilometers east of the Nepali capital Kathmandu continues at high speed. “The plinth work has almost been finished,” Shyam Pandit, Nepalese liaison of the German relief organization “Nepalhilfe Beilngries”, writes to me. I wanted to know from him whether the work will be stopped in winter. “No stop. I will continue construction work,” the contractor replied, says Shyam. However, it’s going to be a little slower in the cold season than now.

Date

19. December 2016 | 14:09

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Auer and Bluemel succeed first ascent on a 7000er in Nepal

Auer (l.) and Bluemel on top of Gimmigela East

Auer (l.) and Bluemel on top of Gimmigela East

“It was one of those expeditions where it all fit together perfectly,” says Hansjoerg Auer. The 31-year-old Austrian and his countryman Alex Bluemel succeeded the first ascent of the North Face of the 7005-meter-high Gimmigela East, in Alpine style, means without ropes and high camps, without Sherpa support and without bottled oxygen. The sub-peak of Gimmigela Chuli (7350 m) is located in the far east of Nepal, on the border with India, quite hidden in the area around the eight-thousander Kangchenjunga, the third-highest mountain on earth.

Date

16. December 2016 | 13:05

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Bad mountain management in Nepal

A mountain in Gokyo Valley

A mountain in Gokyo Valley

You can’t just set off. If you want to climb am mountain in Nepal you should check the rules beforehand, otherwise you might experience a nasty surprise. Like the three Spanish climbers, who recently opened new routes on two six-thousanders. They were under way without permits, now the authorities in Kathmandu are investigating the case. They are facing a stiff fine and a 10-year-ban from mountaineering in Nepal. My compassion for the Spaniards is limited. I find their justification (“We are not pirates, we have left our money in Nepal at all”) flimsy. If you follow this argumentation, you could bilk any national park fee worldwide. Nonetheless there have been some construction sites the Nepalese “mountain management” for a long time, which are allegedly worked on but whose status does not change.

Date

6. December 2016 | 17:22

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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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