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Ralf Dujmovits: “My definitely last Everest attempt”

Ralf Dujmovits

Never say Never Again! This is not only the title of an old James Bond film but could also stand for Ralf Dujmovits’ personal story on Mount Everest. The first and so far only German, who has scaled all 14 eight-thousanders, had climbed the highest mountain on earth on his very first attempt in fall 1992. Due to bad weather, however, he had used bottled oxygen above the South Col. “I was very young at the time. It was a mistake,” says Ralf today.

After all, he climbed the other 13 eight-thousanders without breathing mask. And so he later tried to wipe out this Everest mistake again and again. In vain. In 1996, 2005, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2015 he returned without summit success, for various reasons. This spring, the 55-year-old wants to give it a try again. For the eighth time, he will travel to Mount Everest, the fifth time to the Tibetan north side of the mountain. He will acclimatize in Nepal with an ascent of the 6,501-meter-high Cholatse in the Khumbu area, along with his Canadian partner Nancy Hansen. Ralf has now arrived in Kathmandu. I spoke with him shortly before he left to Nepal.

Ralf, I think, it’s allowed to say, that you and Everest have a relationship.

Date

28. March 2017 | 16:59

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First Everest summit successes from Nepali side since 2013

South side of Mount Everest

South side of Mount Everest

The workers were the first. Today nine Sherpas reached the summit of Mount Everest, as first climbers this spring, said Ang Tshering Sherpa, President of the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA). The Sherpas belonged to a team including members of several expedition operators, which fixed ropes up to the highest point at 8,850 meters. It was the first summit success on the Nepalese side of Everest since 2013.

Date

11. May 2016 | 16:38

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Mysterious death of two Sherpas on Makalu

Makalu

Makalu

How could that happen? Two Sherpa mountain guides who were working for an expedition of the German operator Amical alpin died in Camp 2 at 6,700 m during a summit attempt on the eight-thousander Makalu. Other group members found the two Sherpas lifeless in their tent in the afternoon. “We can only speculate,” Dominik Mueller, head of Amical, tells me. “We suspect that they cooked in their closed tent without providing adequate ventilation and then died of carbon monoxide poisoning.”

Date

11. May 2016 | 14:55

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Failure in storm

Not a chance

Not a chance

Once again his dream to climb Lhotse South Face was gone with the wind. As in 2014, Sung Taek Hong returns empty-handed from the mighty wall of the fourth highest mountain on earth to South Korea. After two months on the mountain, Sung and his team packed up. They aborted their last summit attempt at Camp 1. Sung tried to climb further up but it was impossible due to storm gusts of up to 150 kilometers per hour. Some gear was blown out of the wall. One of the Sherpa climbers was hit und hurt by a falling rock.

Date

3. December 2015 | 10:18

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Mingma Sherpa: “It was my worst mistake”

Mingma on his ascent on Chobutse

Mingma on his ascent on Chobutse

No trace of euphoria. On Wednesday last week, Mingma Gyalje Sherpa reached – as reported in my blog – the 6,685-meter-high summit of Chobutse in Rolwaling Valley in Nepal, solo climbing and for the first time via the West Face – a milestone in the history of Sherpa climbing. But instead of being cheerful the 29-year-old is simply happy that he survived his solo ascent.

Mingma, you have already been on top of Mount Everest, K 2 and five other eight-thousanders. How challenging was your solo ascent on Chobutse?

I have climbed Everest with bottled oxygen and the other six 8,000-meter- peaks without the use of oxygen. When I climbed these high mountains, I did it with partners and on routes with fixed ropes. But a solo ascent means climbing alone in free style, there isn’t any fixed rope or climbing partner to save you if you make a mistake. A mistake means the end of your life. So it is itself challenging. It took me three years to decide to go for a solo climb. Finally, I made it this year. Climbing Chobutse was my worst decision and mistake. I almost lost my life. After my summit success, I spent two nights and days without food, water or tent. I spent two threatening nights and a day at the same place in a whiteout waiting for the weather to clear up. My only satisfaction is that I made it to the summit, though it was the hardest climb of my life.

Date

2. November 2015 | 14:37

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Turning point in Sherpa climbing history

The route Mingma wanted to take on Chobutse

The route Mingma wanted to take on Chobutse

The next Sherpa coup in the Himalayas, again in Rolwaling Valley. After Nima Tenji Sherpa, Tashi Sherpa and Dawa Gyalje Sherpa – as reported – had first climbed three six-thousanders within three days at the beginning of October, Mingma Gyalje Sherpa now succeeded in doing an amazing solo ascent. The 29-year-old stated that he reached the 6685-meter-high summit of Chobutse (also called Tsoboje) climbing alone and for the first time through the West Face. He had two cold bivouacs in the wall causing frostbite at his leg. Chobutse was first climbed by the Germans Wolfgang Weinzierl, Peter Vogler, Gustav and Klaus Harder in spring 1972, via the Northeast Ridge. Several attempts to climb through the West Face had failed.

Date

31. October 2015 | 21:36

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Dominik Mueller: “We are in limbo”

North side of Everest

North side of Everest

He cannot just carry on as if nothing had happened, says Dominik Mueller. The head of the German expedition operator Amical alpin today abandoned his expedition on the Tibetan north side of Mount Everest – after consultation with his clients, who according to Dominik also did not want to continue. “When I look in the faces of our cook, the kitchen boys and all the other Sherpas here, I cannot climb on in good conscience”, Dominik tells me by phone from the “Chinese Base Camp” at 5,150 meters, where according to his estimate are still 250 to 300 climbers and staff. The team’s cook has lost his house in Kathmandu, many others have not even been able to contact their families. “We can not sit here on a beautiful island and make for love, peace and harmony while there are thousands of deaths around us.”

Date

28. April 2015 | 18:58

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Baumann: “Families of Everest victims still need help”

Baumann visiting the family of avalanche victim Chhiring Sherpa

Baumann visiting the family of avalanche victim Chhiring Sherpa

There was no climbing on Mount Everest on this Saturday. At the Base Camp at 5,300 meters, more than 300 western climbers and an equivalent number of Sherpas commemorated the 16 Nepalis who had been killed in the avalanche in Khumbu Icefall exactly one year ago. It was the worst avalanche disaster in the history of Everest. The German climber and physician Matthias Baumann had witnessed the tragedy at the Base Camp. Later he visited the families of the victims and launched a relief campaign for them. In March, the 43-year-old trauma surgeon from the city of Tuebingen traveled again to Nepal. He distributed money to the families of the victims and launched financial sponsorships to guarantee the education of the avalanche victims’ children.

Matthias, a year ago, you were at the Base Camp of Mount Everest, when the avalanche released in the Khumbu Icefall. You were among the doctors who first treated the injured climbers. Are you still thinking of what happened on 18 April 2014?

Date

18. April 2015 | 21:09

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Dominik Mueller: “Concentrated competence at base camp”

Dominik Mueller

Dominik Mueller

The Everest climbers are in the starting blocks. In four weeks, the majority of them will travel to Nepal or Tibet. The final decision of the Nepalese government, whether and, if so, how exactly the permits of the prematurely terminated spring season 2014 are valid for 2015, is still to be made. Dominik Mueller, head of the German operator Amical alpin, doesn’t have to worry about that.  The 43-year-old leads an expedition to the Tibetan north side of Everest. His team will include not only “normal” clients but also three top-class mountaineering professionals from Germany. Ralf Dujmovits, so far the only German who climbed all eight-thousanders, wants to scale Everest without bottled oxygen – together with the Canadian Nancy Hansen. Alix von Melle and Luis Stitzinger plan to do the same. The German couple has so far climbed six eight-thousanders. Dominik Müller worked as an expedition leader on six of the 14 highest mountains. He reached the summit of Cho Oyo twice. “During the other expeditions, I had to put aside my personal interests being the leader”, Dominik told me. This time on Everest this could be different.

Date

6. March 2015 | 17:18

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Russell Brice points the finger

Russell Brice

Russell Brice

He kept silent for weeks, but now he has found very clear words. “This is my 20th year of operations for Himalayan Experience but never before have I experienced such a variety of emotions as I did this year” writes Russell Brice at the beginning of a five-part series of reports about what happened on and around Mount Everest this spring. At this point I can only sum up the content but you should really take time to read Russell’s first hand reports in its full length. The owner and expedition operator from New Zealand was at Everest Base Camp when the devastating avalanche went down over the Khumbu Icefall and killed 16 Nepalese climbers on 18 April. “It appears that there was already a traffic jam in this area at the time of the avalanche, so it is not surprising that there were so many killed and injured.”

Date

4. June 2014 | 15:38

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Everest boycott or going on?

Basecamp on the south side of Everest

Basecamp on the south side of Everest

One crisis meeting leads to another, at Everest basecamp at 5300 meters as well as at the seat of the Nepalese government in Kathmandu. It is still unclear whether there will be attempts to climb the highest mountain in the world via the Nepalese south side this spring. “Most teams are leaving the basecamp. They are afraid that something will happen (many avalanches are still coming down), but also that other Sherpas could punish them for going on”, German reporter Juliane Moecklinghoff, who accompanies the blind Austrian climber Andy Holzer, writes in her Everest diary. “There have been several meetings among the various team leaders, Sirdars and Sherpas but it remains unclear what the final decision will be”, reports Eric Simonson of the expedition organizer International Mountain Guides (IMG). Since the avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall last Friday killed 16 Nepalis, all mountain activities have been resting.

Date

23. April 2014 | 15:40

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Death trap Khumbu Icefall

Treacherous labyrinth of ice

Treacherous labyrinth of ice

The very first climbers had respect for the Khumbu Icefall. This is underlined by the nicknames which the members of the successful British Everest expedition 1953 gave to the risky passages through the labyrinth of ice: “Hillary’s Horror”, “Mike’s Horror”, “Atom Bomb area”. The icefall was “the key to all attempts on the south side of Everest”, wrote Sir Edmund Hillary, the New Zealander, who, together with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, stood first on the 8850-meter-high summit. Since then about 40 climbers, most of them Sherpas, were killed in the Khumbu Icefall by avalanches from the west shoulder or collapsing seracs. In recent years, high temperatures have even increased the danger of avalanches. For this reason, the New Zealand expedition organizer Russell Brice had abandoned his expedition in 2012.

No hope for missing climbers

The disaster on Friday was the worst in the history of Mount Everest. By now 13 dead bodies have been recovered from the ice and snow. There was no more hope to find the three still missing climbers alive, said a spokesman of the Ministry of Tourism. All victims are Nepalis, most belonged to the ethnic group of Sherpas. They all were carrying material and food from basecamp to the camp above the icefall, when they were hit by the ice avalanche. They had no chance to escape.

Date

19. April 2014 | 17:01

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At least twelve killed in avalanche on Everest

Dangerous Khumbu Icefall

Dangerous Khumbu Icefall

The spring season on Everest begins with a disaster. On the Nepalese south side of the mountain, an avalanche has hit the Khumbu Icefall. “Around 25 persons were swept away by the avalanche”, a spokesman of the Nepalese Ministry of Tourism said. “We have rescued eight alive, and 12 bodies have been recovered so far.” Four Sherpas were still missing. Climbers from six expeditions were caught in the avalanche. Due to other reports, all victims were Sherpas who were fixing the route route through the labyrinth of ice when the avalanche went off at an altitude of about 5800 meters.

The dangerous passage is called “popcorn field” because there are so many ice blocks of collapsed seracs or out of ice avalanches. This spring, some 300 climbers from 28 expeditions have pitched their tents on the south side of Mount Everest.

By now it is the worst avalanche disaster in the history of Mount Everest. In 1922, on the Tibetan north side of Mount Everest seven Sherpas were killed in an avalanche. In 1970 within days seven Sherpas lost their lives in the Khumbu Icefall.

Date

18. April 2014 | 13:05

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Moro and Steck abandon Everest expedition

Bad mood on Everest

The top climbers Simone Moro from Italy and Ueli Steck from Switzerland and their British photographer Jon Griffith have abandoned their expedition on Mount Everest. They were responding to the fact that last Saturday they had been attacked and threatened with death by furios Sherpas in camp 2. „The history of mountaineering on Everest started with a partnership between a Sherpa and a foreigner. 60 years later this partnership has changed considerably“, Simone Moro said. He wants to stay at Everest basecamp to do some rescue flights with his helicopter. Ueli Steck headed back home. „My trust is gone. I can’t return to this mountain, even if all say that something like this would not happen again”, Ueli said in basecamp to the German journalist and climber Billi Bierling. „Who guarantees me that the furious mob will not cut my rope or burn down my tent?” 

Date

1. May 2013 | 0:57

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