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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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Lhotse summit push scheduled for the end of October

Sung Taek Hong on ascent to Camp 4

Shaken but prepared for the summit attempt – this is how the state of the team of Sung Taek Hong can be described. The 50-year-old South Korean, his 49-year-old Spanish climbing partner Jorge Egocheaga and their Sherpa team are currently recovering in the base camp at the foot of Lhotse from their last ascent into the South Face of the fourth highest mountain on earth. As reported previously, they had pitched Camp 3 at 7,800 meters and Camp 4 at 8250 meters. During the ascent, Furba Wangyal Sherpa and Phurba Sherpa had been slightly injured by rockfall near Camp 2. They left the base camp to be treated. “Thankfully they said it isn’t too serious,” the team informed on their website.

Date

24. October 2017 | 15:04

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New route through Nuptse South Face

The “Mustache Gang”: Degoulet, Guigonnet, Millerioux (from l. to r.)

The “Mustache Gang” has struck in Nepal. The French climbers Helias Millerioux, Frederic Degoulet and Benjamin Guigonnet, who call themselves “Le Gang des Mustaches”, opened in Alpine style a new route through the South Face of Nuptse. “Jippie, it’s done! They did it!”, the Base Camp team of the trio posted yesterday on Facebook, adding that the three climbers had reached the 7,742-meter-high summit. They did not mean the 7861-meter high Nuptse I, but Nuptse Nup II, also called Nuptse Northwest. Helias, Frederic and Benjamin had entered their route last Friday. After six nights in the wall they reached the highest point.

Date

20. October 2017 | 15:18

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High up in the Lhotse South Face

Lhotse South Face

The most exciting eight-thousander expedition this fall is in the probably decisive phase. According to the Kathmandu-based newspaper “The Himalayan Times”, the South Korean Sung Taek Hong and the Spaniard Jorge Egocheaga reached Camp IV at 8,250 meters on the Lhotse South Face on Wednesday. They planned to pitch another camp at 8,400 meters before heading to the highest point at 8,516 meters. (see the video below).

Date

20. October 2017 | 11:04

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Kobusch, first ascender of Nangpai Gosum II: “Very difficult”

Kobusch’s route on Nangpai Gosum II

“The feeling was more than overwhelming to stand in a place that no one ever entered before me,” writes Jost Kobusch about his first ascent of the 7296-meter-high Nangpai Gosum II in the east of Nepal. As reported, the 25-year-old German had scaled the till then fourth-highest unclimbed mountain on earth two weeks ago. “Such ascents are still pure, real alpinism,” Jost writes to me. “This is exactly the direction I want to take – because a solo on a route with other climbers is not a real solo. I would like to enjoy alpinism in its purest form. For me, this is the maximum of minimalist mountaineering.” In the meantime, Kobusch has also given details of his route, which he graded to me as “TD”, which means “very difficult” (in the International French Adjectival System (IFAS) ,TD stands for “Tres Difficile”, with sustained snow and ice at an angle of 65-80 degrees and rock climbing at grade V and VI). He was en route with a very small team: the Nepali cook Ngima, kitchen helper Phurba and cameraman Raphael Schardt, who, according to Jost, only joined him once on the way to the Advanced Basce Camp (ABC) at the beginning of the expedition, later only filming with a large telephoto lens from the Base Camp.

Date

17. October 2017 | 15:17

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Himalayan Database soon for free

Tobias Pantel, Billi Bierling, Jeevan Shrestha und Rodolphe Popier (from l. to r.)

The Himalayan Database is something like the electronic Bible of Expedition Mountaineering in Nepal. For those who are dealing with the highest mountains in the world, there is simply no way around this extensive collection of data. Countless times I’ve asked for Billi Bierling when I wanted to check important details of ascents. The 50-year-old German journalist and climber has been working for the Himalayan Database since 2004. In 2016 she replaced the legendary chronicler Elizabeth Hawley, who is now 93 years old, as the head of the database. In the 1960s Miss Hawley had begun to file the expeditions in Nepal. Her archive was the base of the Himalayan Database, which has been available electronically since 2004. Till now a CD ROM had to be bought. This will change soon. Then the database will be available to everyone for free.

Date

12. October 2017 | 10:32

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Kobusch succeeds first ascent of Nangpai Gosum II

Kobusch on top of Nangpai Gosum II

A blank spot less on the map of the highest mountains: According to his own words, the 24-year-old German climber Jost Kobusch made the first ascent of the 7,296-meter-high Nangpai Gosum II. The mountain, till then the fourth highest unclimbed peak of the world, is located in the border area between Nepal and China, not far from the eight-thousander Cho Oyu. The slightly higher Nangpai Gosum I (7,351 meters) is also known as Jasemba, in Nepal it is officially called Pasang Lhamu Chuli, named after the first Nepali woman on Mount Everest. “I’ve been climbing very fast. Shortly below the summit it got once again exhausting because there was a lot of deep snow,” Jost said in a podcast published on his website. “Standing up there was liberating. All these pains, the efforts before, suddenly subsided. I think I had not really believed that it would work.”

Date

10. October 2017 | 15:35

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First ascent of Burke Khang – without Burke

Burke Khang

The very big point was missing. The 6,942-meter-high Burke Khang was successfully first climbed – but Bill Burke, the man after whom the mountain in the Gokyo Valley near Mount Everest is named, was not at the top. According to the Nepali expedition operator Asian Trekking, the Northern Irishman Noel Hanna and the Sherpas Naga Dorje Sherpa, Pemba Tshering Sherpa and Samden Bhote reached the summit of Burke Khang on Thursday. Bill had ascended up to Camp 1 but had decided not to climb higher, it said. Bummer! He would have deserved to be among the first ascenders, just only because of his persistance. For the fourth time – after in fall 2015 and 2016 and in spring 2017 – the 75-year-old American had traveled to Burke Khang. The previous attempts had failed due to bad weather or dangerous conditions on the mountain.

Date

8. October 2017 | 12:23

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Everest conditions on Manaslu

Manaslu

The “Mountain of the Spirit” is close to my heart. It is simply because I spent more than a month at the foot of Manaslu ten years ago. Since then, I have had a personal relationship with this impressive eight-thousander in Nepal. In spring 2007, I reported from the base camp at 4,850 meters about a commercial expedition. Once I myself climbed up to Camp 1 at 5,700 meters. At that time we – expedition leader Ralf Dujmovits and eleven clients as well as a team of two from Austria – were the only people on the mountain. We could not imagine (and would not have liked) then that Manaslu would mutate into the “Mount Everest of fall season”.  In the current season about 500 climbers populated Manaslu Base Camp. Nearly 200 summit successes have been reported so far – being noticed that this time mostly pictures were published that had been taken on the highest point and not, as in previous years, on a spot below. Among those who reached the 8,163-meter-high summit there were two climbers with whom I had been en route on other mountains.

Date

2. October 2017 | 14:42

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Soria abandons Dhaulagiri expedition, summit successes on Manaslu

Carlos Soria on Dhaulagiri

The probably fittest of all seniors among the high altitude climbers must still wait for his 13th eight-thousander. Because of too much snow on the mountain Carlos Soria declared his expedition on the 8,167-meter-high Dhaulagiri for finished. During the ascent of the 78-year-old Spaniard and his companions to Camp 1, some avalanches had swept down not far away from the climbers, Carlos indicated on Facebook, adding that the high risk of avalanches would continue in the upper parts of the mountain. Moreover, the fixed ropes which they had laid before had been buried by fresh snow. “Because of all these adversities, we have no choice but to abandon our Dhaulagiri expedition for this season,” said Soria. A first summit attempt had failed one and a half weeks ago at an altitude of about 7,800 meters, because Carlos and Co. had missed the right route while the fog had become stronger.

Date

26. September 2017 | 18:41

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An inn for myself

Having arrived at the Oberalp Pass

“Gruezi” from the Oberalp Pass at an altitude of 2044 meters in Graubünden in Switzerland. After a ten-hour train journey, during which I had to change trains four times with about 40 kilograms of luggage (including my folding bike), I have reached the starting point of my donation bike tour “School up! River down!”. One of the Rhine sources is located about three kilometers from here. When I arrived up here late in the afternoon, I was surprised: early September and already winter conditions.

Date

10. September 2017 | 20:09

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Once upon a time … the Hillary Step

Hillary Step in 2017

The big boulder is gone. This is for sure. Tim Mosedale, a six-time Everest summiter from the UK, has added some pictures to Facebook to support his statement that the Hillary Step, the striking twelve-meter-high rock at 8,790 meters, no longer exists in its previous form. Tim’s pictures show: Where once a mighty boulder represented the last serious challenge before the summit, now only a few chunks are lying around. The British expedition leader had already claimed this in mid-May after his successful summit attempt: “It’s official. The Hillary Step is no more.”

Date

13. June 2017 | 16:37

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China cancels fall season on Tibet’s eight-thousanders

Janusz Adamski

This was not a good week for Janusz Adamski. First, the Nepalese government seized his passport and informed the Pole that he would be not allowed to enter Nepal for mountaineering in the next ten years. And now, the Chinese authorities made the 48-year-old the scapegoat for not issuing any permits next fall for the three eight-thousanders in Tibet. Adamski, who “illegally” scaled Mount Everest from the north side and then traversed to the south side on 21 May, was responsible that the rules and regulations had to be “adjusted and improved”, informed the China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA). To ensure that the problems were solved in time by 2018, there would be no climbing permits for fall 2017, said the CTMA.

Date

8. June 2017 | 21:19

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Kuriki changes his Everest plan

Nobukazu Kuriki

Nobukazu Kuriki has changed Everest sides. The 34-year-old Japanese today reported on Facebook from Gorak Shep, the 5207-meter-high last inhabited settlement below Everest on the Nepalese south side. Apparently, Kuriki has managed the necessary formalities with the Nepali authorities. Previously, Nobukazu had pitched his tent on the Tibetan north side: on the Central Rongbuk Glacier below Everest North Face. The reason for his change of location, says Kuriki, was that he had changed his previous plan for the ascent. Originally, the Japanese had wanted to climb the North Face, solo and without bottled oxygen, via the so-called “Supercouloir Route”, a system of gullies that stretches almost through the entire wall.

Date

17. May 2017 | 18:57

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