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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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Thundu Sherpa dies on Ama Dablam

Lhakpa Thundu Sherpa (1970-2016)

Lhakpa Thundu Sherpa (1970-2016)

Once again the earth trembled on Monday in the Khumbu region around Mount Everest. The tremors with an intensity of 5.4, with the epicenter 19 kilometers west of Namche Bazaar, normally would not have caused panic, because small to medium scale aftershocks are almost everyday routine in Nepal after the devastating earthquake on 25 April 2015: 475 tremors with an intensity of 4 or more have been registered since then. Major damage was not reported after Monday’s quake. But there was also sad news: Due to the tremors Lhakpa Thundu Sherpa lost his life while climbing the 6814-meter-high Ama Dablam.

Date

29. November 2016 | 17:22

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Time bomb Imja Tsho defused – for now

Draining channel on Imja Tsho

Draining canal on Imja Tsho

It’s like handling a water butt. The amount of rainfall is not manageable. If you want to prevent the butt from overflowing, you must drain the water. According to this model, the water level of Imja Tsho has now been lowered by a total of 3.40 meters over a period of two months. The glacial lake in the Everest region, which is almost 150 meters deep in some places, has steadily expanded over the last few years as a result of climate change, and has become a threat to the downstream villages, especially the nearby located Chukhung and Dingboche. A bursting of the natural dam at an altitude of about 5,000 meters could have devastating consequences. Soldiers from the Nepalese army were involved in the construction work for the canal, via which a total of four billion liters of water were drained. According to the government in Kathmandu, “an estimated 96,562 people, including tourists” – for this exact estimate Nepal earns an entry in the Guinness Book of Records 😉 – are expected to benefit from the project, which cost about three million US dollars and was funded by the United Nations. Daene McKinney, professor of Environmental and Water Resources Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, was on site and has replied to my questions.

Professor McKinney, you were involved in the Imja Lake lowering project in the Everest region. How dangerous did you assess the situation before starting to drain the water?

Date

28. November 2016 | 17:36

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