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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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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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