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Really on top of Nanga Parbat?

Mingma Gyalje Sherpa on Nanga Parbat

Mingma Gyalje Sherpa is not sure. He can not say with 100 percent certainty that he and his team really reached the 8,125-meter-high summit of Nanga Parbat on 11 June, the 31-year-old Nepalese today writes on Facebook, thus qualifying previous reports on the first summit success of the summer season on the eight-thousanders in Pakistan. He had relied on the local knowledge of a Pakistani climber who had summited the ninth highest mountain on earth in 2005 and with whom he had been on Gasherbrum I and II in 2016, writes Mingma. But the Pakistani had first led the team into a different gully than originally planned. This made the ascent harder and longer, says the Sherpa. When they finally reached the top of a ridge, the Pakistani told them this was the summit. “But that place didn’t look like the summit which I had figured out to be snow and two snow bar(rier)s,“ Mingma writes.

Date

18. June 2017 | 20:50

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The fast Mingma

Mingma Gyalje Sherpa

He deserves more and more the nickname “The early starter”. While most of the others are still busy setting up their base camps in the Karakoram, Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, head of the Nepalese expedition operator, Dreamers Destination, already last Sunday led a team to the 8125-meter-high summit of Nanga Parbat. The success on the ninth highest mountain on earth was the first of this summer season on the eight-thousanders in Pakistan. Also in the past spring season in Nepal and Tibet, Mingma had achieved the first 8000er summit success: On 30 April, the 31-year-old reached along with his team the summit of the 8167-meter-high Dhaulagiri. Not even two weeks later he stood with Tashi Sherpa and a client from China on the 8485-meter-high main summit of Makalu – also on this peak, Mingma was the first this spring.

Date

17. June 2017 | 21:22

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China reacts allergically to Pakistan visas

The Potala Palace in Lhasa

Nasty surprise for some climbers heading for destinations in Tibet this spring: I have been confirmed by several sides that China currently does not allow tourists to enter Tibet in case that there is a visa for Pakistan issued in the past three years in their passport. Especially professional climbers, who like to tackle the impressive mountains of the Karakoram in summer, run the risk of not obtaining a visa for Tibet. Some mountaineers are stuck in the Nepali capital Kathmandu, because they have learned too late about this new regulation. So if you want to travel to Cho Oyu, Shishapangma or the Tibetan north side of Mount Everest and do not want to experience a bad surprise, take a look at your passport!

Date

12. April 2017 | 15:13

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Red carpet for Jeff Lowe

Thomas Huber at the ISPO

Thomas Huber at the ISPO

Thomas Huber radiates pure joie de vivre. “I’m doing well, more than in a long time,” says the 50-year-old German top climber, as we meet at the ISPO sporting goods trade fair in Munich. On 30 December, the older of the two Huber brothers had provided another highlight of his career: Along with the Swiss climbers Stephan Siegrist and Roger Schaeli, Thomas succeeded the second ascent of the legendary route “Metanoia” in the centre of the Eiger North Face: “How can a year end better? I have just taken this flow with me,” enthuses Huber.

Date

9. February 2017 | 16:59

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Thomas Huber: “The crux is not the wall, but the man”

Latok I (2nd summit f.l.)

Latok I (2nd mountain f.l.)

A footballer would say: The ball wasn’t round. “The expedition has definitely run roughly,” Thomas Huber tells me about his trip to Latok I in Pakistan. As reported, the older of the two Huber brothers, along with German climbers Toni Gutsch and Sebastian Brutscher, had planned to tackle the north side of the 7145-meter-high granite giant in Karakoram this fall –only a few weeks after his 16-meter-fall from a rock face and a subsequent brain surgery. So the unbalance of the expedition began. “We could not get together as a team because I was so busy with my situation after the fall and the head injury,” Thomas concedes. “Nevertheless the motivation was high, and from my point of view the team fit perfectly. We maintained this euphoria, to Skardu, to Askole, to our Base Camp on the Choktoi Glacier. When we got there, everyone agreed: This is the place per se for climbing in highest perfection. But then everything ran differently.”

Date

26. October 2016 | 12:03

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Mourning for US climbers Dempster and Adamson

Kyle Dempster (l.) and Scott Adamson

Kyle Dempster (l.) and Scott Adamson

Thomas Huber‘s new Karakoram adventure began with a rescue mission. The German top climber’s exact local knowledge on the Ogre (also called Baintha Brakk) was in demand. About a week ago (I report on it only now because I was on holiday in the Alps at that time) the 49-year-old was picked up by a Pakistani rescue helicopter to search along with the crew for the missing Kyle Dempster and Scott Adamson. In vain. No sign of the Americans. In the end the search was canceled because there was no more hope of finding them alive.

Date

13. September 2016 | 9:50

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Pakistan refuses climbers entry – arbitrariness or system?

Broad Peak (with shades of K 2)

Broad Peak (with shades of K 2)

You have a visa for Pakistan, a climbing permit for an eight-thousander, you have organized everything. You travel to Islamabad and at the airport you learn that you are a persona non grata and have to leave the country. That’s exactly what happened to the Australian-New Zealand climber Chris Jensen Burke (she has both citizenships) and the Nepalese Sherpa Lakpa Sherpa. “The reasons why are stranger than fiction and I won’t put the detail here,” Chris wrote in her blog. Obviously she fears to risk alienating the Pakistani authorities if she is quite clear.

Date

29. June 2016 | 8:59

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Dujmovits: “Pretty flabbergasted”

Gasherbrum VI seen from Base Camp

Gasherbrum VI seen from Base Camp

“Really annoying that this happened to me at the very beginning!” Ralf Dujmovits, Germany’s most successful high altitude climber, is upset that he has first suffered from diarrhea and then from a bad cold while trekking on the Baltoro Glacier. “Meanwhile I feel better, but I realize that I still lack power,” Ralf tells me, when I reach him on satellite phone during an exploration trip. The 54-year-old and his girlfriend, the 47-year-old Canadian climber Nancy Hansen, traveled to the Karakoram in order to try first ascents of two still unclimbed mountains: first Gasherbrum VI (the reported altitude varies between 6,973 and 7,004 meters), then, not far away, Praqpa Ri (different elevation data too: 7,134 or 7,152 meters). The two climbers have pitched up their Base Camp at the foot of Gasherbrum VI.

Ralf, how have you experienced Pakistan so far? The country is still said to be a risk area.

Date

17. June 2016 | 14:49

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Italian fell to death on Laila Peak

Laila Peak

Laila Peak

The summer season in the Karakorum has not even really kicked off, but the first death is already reported. Italian Leonardo Comelli lost his life on Thursday while making a ski descent from the 6,096-meter-high Laila Peak, said Karrar Haideri, spokesman of the Alpine Club of Pakistan. At his first attempt to ski down Laila Peak, Comelli crossed his skis, lost his balance and fell 400 meters down rugged terrain to his death. According to Haideri’s words, the other three team members were able to retrieve the body. Comelli came from the small town of Muggia located in the province of Trieste. With 16 years he started rock climbing. Later he made his mark as an ice climber, mountain skier and alpine photographer.

Date

12. June 2016 | 13:10

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Alexander Huber: “Gamblers have never got far in the mountains”

Alexander Huber in Innsbruck

Alexander Huber in Innsbruck

The Huber brothers will continue to go on joint expeditions, but probably not to Latok I. Whereas Thomas Huber raved about the still unclimbed North Face of the 7,145-meter-high granite mountain in the Karakoram when I met him three weeks ago, his younger brother Alexander seems to have definitely written off the project due to their experiences last summer. I talked to the 46-year-old climber at the Alpine Trade Fair in Innsbruck last week.

Alexander, on Latok III, during your acclimatization for climbing the North Face of Latok I, you were are almost blown out of the wall by the blast wave of an ice avalanche. Your brother told me that never before it had been so close. Have you felt like he did?

It was definitely close. We had noticed the serac and therefore placed our camp far away from it. We were lucky that we had dug out a small platform to position the tents perfectly. The small snow edge of this platform has saved our lives. Otherwise we would have been blown away. In this respect, our risk management worked. But it was much, much closer than I ever imagined. And that’s shocking.

Date

13. November 2015 | 11:04

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Clearing up after Hindu Kush earthquake

Earthquake-hit village in northern Pakistan

Village of Gandao in northern Pakistan

Again, a mountainous region was hit. Yesterday, nearly half a year after the devastating earthquake in Nepal, which had killed closed to 9,000 people, the earth trembled in northern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. The number of registered deaths has been rising to nearly 400 so far and reportedly several thousand people were injured. As after the quake in Nepal, the rescue teams have not yet reached many remote mountain valleys in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Roads are blocked by landslides. Along the Karakoram Highway, the main connecting axis to the north, 45 landslides were recorded. Meanwhile more than half of the blocked places have been cleared up again. Landslides were also reported from the area around Skardu, the town that many climbers know because it is the starting point of most expeditions to the Karakoram.

Date

27. October 2015 | 16:37

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Thomas Huber: “In the hands of fate as never before”

Thomas Huber on Choktoi Glacier, behind him the North Face of Latok I (l.) and Ogre (r.)

Thomas Huber on Choktoi Glacier, behind him the North Face of Latok I (l.) and Ogre (r.)

It was a hot, but from the climbers’ perspective a meager summer in the Karakoram: Most expeditions left Pakistan without summit successes. The German “Huberbuam” Thomas and Alexander, the Swiss Dani Arnold and the Austrian Mario Walder also returned empty-handed, but alive and “in one piece” – which was not a matter of course considering their experiences at the Latok group. Thomas, aged 48, the elder of the Huber brothers, told me the story.

Thomas, this summer you actually wanted to tackle the North Face of the 7,145-meter-high Latok I which has not yet been climbed. This did not happen. Why?

We have seen the North Face only from afar. We realized pretty soon that is was impossible to climb the wall under these conditions. It would have been possible to tackle the North Ridge. But this did not happen too, because another mountain battered us so that we lost our motivation and courage to push ourselves to the absolute limit again.

Date

2. October 2015 | 16:44

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Luka Lindic is yearning for Latok I

Luka Lindic

Luka Lindic

“That was far below my limit”, says the Slovenian Luka Lindic when I ask him about the first climbing of the North Face of the 6515-meter-high Hagshu in the Indian Himalayas. After all, Luka and his two Slovenian friends Marko Prezelj and Ales Cesen have been awarded for this climb with this year’s Piolet d’Or, the “Oscar for climbers”. “Sometimes you find such a logical line. It’s normal to follow it. We didn’t find any extreme difficult terrain”, Luka remembers. Looking for his personal limits, the 27-year-old climber will travel to the North of Pakistan this summer. In early July, Luka will set off to the Karakoram, together with his compatriots Luka Krajnc, Martin Zumer and Janez Svoljsak. “We will stay on Choktoi glacier for a month. And if the conditions will allow it and if we feel good, we would like to try Latok I.”

Date

18. June 2015 | 22:29

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Amical cancels expeditions to Pakistan

Broad Peak in Pakistan

Broad Peak in Pakistan

“It’s just too exciting”, says Dominik Mueller. The head of the German operator Amical alpin has called off all its expeditions and treks in Pakistan that were originally planned for the summer of 2015. “Due to the uncertain situation in Pakistan and the conflicts that flare up time and again in the areas around Gilgit and Chilas, we have reluctantly decided to take this step”, it says on Amical’s website. “We are worried about the violence of the Taliban, various subgroups and not least of religious factions. Thus we had no option.”

Date

23. March 2015 | 15:18

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Huber brothers cancel expedition to Pakistan

Alexander (r.) and Thomas Huber

Alexander (r.) and Thomas Huber

The Huber brothers have cancelled their planned expedition to Latok I in Pakistan – “because of the political situation in Pakistan”, Alexander and Thomas Huber write on Facebook.  “Of course the dream of this giant wall is still in our mind and we hope next year we will get another chance.” Actually the German climbers and their team comrades Dani Arnold and Mario Walder had their bags packed to start to Pakistan. “But the risk was no more calculable”, says Alexander when I call him. “First the offensive of the Taliban, now the offensive of the Pakistan army in North Waziristan. There will certainly be more terrorist attacks.”

Date

25. June 2014 | 13:33

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