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The eternal rascal

Peter Habeler

Even aged 75, he appears to be a rascal. Good-humored, always good for a joke, the laugh lines on his face – and fit as a fiddle. “Climbing is my fountain of youth,” says Peter Habeler. The Tyrolean from the Zillertal is still climbing through steep walls. Shortly before his big birthday even through the Eiger North Face, along with David Lama, in winter. “It was something very special for me,” Peter tells me as we hike below the peaks of the Geisler group in the Villnöss Valley in the South Tyrolean Dolomites. “Many years ago, I discovered David’s talent when he did his first climbing as a little boy in my alpine school in the Zillertal. I saw that he would become a great climber.” Today Lama is one of the best climbers in the world. “When I climbed behind him in the Eiger North Face and watched how easily and smoothly he mastered even the most difficult passages, I felt like I was back in time when I myself was still young,” says Peter.

Date

14. October 2017 | 0:41

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Kammerlander: “I want to finish my path on Manaslu”

Hans Kammerlander

He wants to draw a final line. Late next fall, the South Tyrolean Hans Kammerlander wants to climb the 8163-meter-high Manaslu in Nepal, leaving his trauma of 1991 behind. During a summit attempt, his two friends Friedl Mutschlechner and Karl Großrubatscher had died in a thunderstorm. At that time Kammerlander declared that he would never return to Manaslu. In the years before, Hans, at the side of Reinhold Messner, had written alpine history. Thus the two succeeded the first eight-thousander double traverse on Gasherbrum I and II in Pakistan in 1984 – in Alpine style.

“No alpinism”

Kammerlander has so far climbed twelve of the 14 eight-thousanders. In 1996, he skied down from the summit of Mount Everest via the Tibetan north side. Hans, however, had to take off his skies several times because it was a season with little snow. Meanwhile the 60-year-old has lost any interest in what happens on Everest. “I’m not following this. For me normal Everest ascents have nothing to do with alpinism. Supplemental oxygen, prepared mountains and the Sherpas make everything clear,” the 60-year-old told me. “But everyone should do it as he thinks it’s right. But he should leave no garbage there. He has to leave the mountain clean, then it’s okay for me.” I spoke to Kammerlander about his upcoming Manaslu project, which he wants to realize along with the North Tyrolean mountain guide Stephan Keck.

Hans, Manaslu means “mountain of the spirit”. Does Manaslu still weigh heavily on you?

Date

14. June 2017 | 16:15

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Ines Papert on Ueli Steck’s death: “It was HIS life!”

Ueli Steck a few days before his fall to death

Why did Ueli Steck choose Nuptse to acclimatize himself? This is a question I ask myself, since on Sunday the news of the death of the Swiss spread like a run-fire. A few days earlier, the 40-year-old had climbed towards the West Shoulder of Everest. That made sense. After all, he planned to climb on his Everest-Lhotse traverse via the West Ridge and the Hornbein Couloir to the highest. But Nuptse? Not exactly the classic tour to get acclimatized. What was the added value besides making additional height meters?

Reinhold Messner speculated in several interviews that Ueli might have planned to try the “great horseshoe”, the never-attempted round trip form Nuptse to Lhotse and Everest across the ridges between the mountains. I see no evidence for this after all I have heard and read. The Frenchman Yannick Graziani wrote in his blog that Ueli had asked him three days before his death, if he wanted to accompany him on Nuptse. The 43-year-old, who wants to climb Everest without bottled oxygen this spring, declined. It was really just an acclimatization trip, Yannick’s team told me on request: “Ueli never said or wrote about Nuptse or horseshoe. He was waiting for his Sherpa friend Tenji to recover from frostbite and reach together the West Shoulder.”

On Monday, I had written to some top climbers asking how they had experienced Ueli. Two other answers reached me.

Date

3. May 2017 | 13:06

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Txikon’s last Everest summit attempt is on

Alex Txikon on Everest

It is a race against time. Another storm front is approaching Mount Everest. The meteorologists expect the small weather window with relatively favorable conditions in the summit region to remain open only until Wednesday and then close for a longer period of time. Therefore Alex Txikon, who wants to climb Everest in winter without bottled oxygen, has to push now. In two weeks, the meteorological winter will end. On Monday, the 35-year-old Basque and his five-man strong Sherpa team climbed up to Camp 2 at 6,400 meters. Today Txikon and the Sherpas Nuri, Gesman, Temba, Sanu and Pasang Nurbu want to reach the South Col at 7,950 meters. All Sherpas use supplemental oxygen. Three weeks ago, Txikon’s first summit attempt had failed on the South Col. “We hope to reach the summit on Wednesday ,” Alex said.

Date

7. March 2017 | 11:26

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Habeler: “Go to Nepal – but not all to Everest!”

Peter Habeler

Peter Habeler in the German town of Leverkusen

You would not estimate that Peter Habeler has really 73 years under his belt. Slim, wiry, tanned – just one who is still climbing mountains. Along with friends, he is currently repeating many routes in the Alps that he climbed when he was young, the Austrian told me when I met him at a mountaineers’ event in Leverkusen near my hometown Cologne last weekend: “Thankfully, I feel physically very well. But it’s going round in circles: If you train and climb a lot, you’re just in better physical shape.” Even 37 years after Habeler climbed Mount Everest along with Reinhold Messner for the first time without bottled oxygen, the highest mountain on earth is always in his mind – of course also due to the fact that he as a pioneer is questioned on Everest again and again.

Date

28. October 2015 | 17:12

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Death and record on Manaslu

Manaslu

Manaslu

It is not far from triumph to tragedy on eight-thousanders. That was demonstrated on Manaslu these days. On Friday, the Japanese Yoshimasa Sasaki fell about 25 meters after slipping on blue ice at 7,300 meters. The 59-year-old died. Sasaki had climbed the eight-thousander Cho Oyu in 2003. Last weekend more than 30 climbers reached the summit of Manaslu, the eight highest mountain in the world, including the Polish ski mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel. The 26-year-old said that he needed only 14 hours and five minutes for his speed ascent, just an hour less than the German Benedikt Boehm in fall 2012. After having skied down the most parts of the route, Andrzej reached the Base Camp 21 hours and 14 minutes after his departure. Two years ago, Bene had needed a total of 23.5 hours for ascent and ski descent.

Date

29. September 2014 | 15:49

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Messner: “I don’t want do die in the mountains”

Reinhold Messner

Reinhold Messner

This man seems to be ageless. How on earth does Reinhold Messner do it? The first man who climbed all 14 eight-thousanders, responds with his motto from Tibetan: “Kalipé” – with steady feet.  Ahead of his 70th birthday on Wednesday, I called him at home in South Tyrolia.

Reinhold Messner, how will you celebrate your birthday?

It will be a private birthday party, in no way a public one. There is a time and a place. I can tell you that I have invited my friends to bivouac. For the last time, at the age of 70, I will spend the night after the party outdoor, under the stars, in the sleeping bag. Most of my friends will do the same, all the others will drive to the hotel in the valley.

Date

15. September 2014 | 15:52

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Messner: “That was typically Ueli Steck”

Reinhold Messner in Cologne

Actually I wanted to ask Reinhold Messner these questions during the International Mountain Summit in Brixen. But a planned press conference was cancelled and the 69-year-old left the venue in no time at all, for whatever reason. But I had not to wait a long time for the South Tyrolean. He came to me – in a way. Last weekend the most famous mountaineer of the world gave a lecture in my home town of Cologne. Before the event started Messner answered my questions.

Reinhold Messner, recently you visited Pakistan, a few months after terrorists had shot eleven climbers at the Diamir basecamp on Nanga Parbat. Describe the atmosphere down there!

The mountain has not changed, but the connections are much worse than I thought. The terrorists were contract killers close to the Taliban, paid to carry out a bloodbath. Originally they had a different target. A great festival with polo games etc. was cancelled, probably because the organizers were worried that something might happen. Then the hit squad turned to Nanga Parbat. After the assault the killers took their money and disappeared. Some of them have been arrested, but nobody knows who has been the principal. On the one hand the terrorists wanted to hit the north of Pakistan, the local tourism, which collapsed by 90 percent. But they also wanted to hit the western world. Fortunately there have not been more victims. There were more than 60 people on Nanga Parbat, but most of them were at the high camps then.

Date

5. November 2013 | 21:15

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Messner: Traffic light at the Hillary Step

Reinhold Messner

Ask the first man or woman you meet on any street in Europe after the name of a famous mountaineer and you will very likely get the response: „Reinhold Messner“. Although he did his pioneering ascents in the Himalayas andKarakorum more than a quarter of a century ago, the 68-year-old South Tyrolean is still very present in public awareness. Messner has been contributing his part by writing book after book, givings lectures and interviews – and polarizing with his statements. In my interview with him on the occasion of the upcoming 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest Reinhold Messner again had clear positions. Don’t wonder why I didn’t ask him about the recent incident on Everest. We met before.

Reinhold Messner, we first look back on the 29th May 1953, when the New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first men to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Would you say that this was an outstanding achievement of two courageous mountaineers or rather a team performance?

It was primarily a British team performance because the British have brought the know-how and the money and made huge preparatory works.

Date

7. May 2013 | 12:36

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