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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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Ondra’s “Dawn Wall” coup: “Brilliant”

Adam Ondra cheered after his success

Adam Ondra cheered after his success

What a hotshot! The 23-year-old Czech Adam Ondra succeeded his free climb through the mostly vertical, partly overhanging “Dawn Wall” in the granite of El Capitan within only eight days. It was the only second free ascent of the rock route, which is regarded as the most difficult in the world. At the beginning of 2015, the Americans Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson had “freed” the “Dawn Wall” after 19 days in the approximately 900-meter-high wall, a milestone of climbing history. They had been preparing for it for more than seven years. Ondra spent just two and a half weeks on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Kevin Jorgeson finds the success of the young Czech “totally badass”, as he wrote to the magazine “Rock and Ice”: “For Tommy and I, the question was whether it was even possible. We left lots of room to improve the style and Adam did just that! Super impressive that he was able to adapt to the Dawn Wall’s unique style and sort out so many complex sequences so quickly.” The German climbing scene is also thrilled.

Date

23. November 2016 | 17:41

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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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Thomas Huber: “I’ll travel with a laughing heart”

Thomas Huber will set off again

Thomas Huber will set off again

Incredible – that describes Thomas Huber’s current life quite aptly. No wonder that the 49-year-old German top climber uses this word very often when we talk on the phone. Thomas was, as he himself says, “incredibly lucky” when he survived his 16-meter-fall from a rock face on 5 July. He recovered so “incredibly fast” that he – as initially planned before his fall – will shortly go “with incredible joy” on expedition to Pakistan. Truly incredible! The aim of the travel is the north side of the 7,145-meter-high granite giant Latok I in the Karakoram. Huber’s team includes Toni Gutsch – who, in 1997, first climbed the West Face of Latok II (7108 m) along with the Huber brothers and US climber Conrad Anker – and Sebastian Brutscher.

Date

13. August 2016 | 9:17

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Sport climbing becomes Olympic – joy and concerns

climbing-olympicsI haven’t yet Olympic rings under my eyes. But that will surely change in the next two weeks because of the time difference between Rio de Janeiro and here. But when the next summer games are pending in four years in Tokyo, again in a different time zone, there will be an additional reason to change the daily habits: Sport climbing becomes Olympic in 2020. This was decided by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). “I think, it’s absolutely cool,” tells me German top climber Thomas Huber. “We have to be open to it. Sport climbing is worthy of being included in the Olympic program, because the competition has developed positively.” The IOC decision could send a signal to young people.

Date

5. August 2016 | 16:45

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Thomas Huber: “Thanks for staying alive!”

Thomas Huber (in 2014)

Thomas Huber (in 2014)

Approximately 1.8 seconds. That was the time it took when Thomas Huber fell 16 meters deep from a rock face on the Brendlberg in the Berchtesgaden region in Bavaria – now two weeks ago. As previously reported, the 49-year-old German top climber, the older of the two Huber brothers, landed on soft forest floor. As it turned out later, Thomas suffered a skull fracture and had to undergo surgery immediately. The doctor’s reassuring prognosis afterwards: no permanent damage. Meanwhile, Thomas has left the hospital and is recovering at home. I have phoned him.

Thomas, first things first: How are you?

Date

19. July 2016 | 23:24

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Thomas Huber is on the mend

Thomas Huber is on his feet again

Thomas Huber is on his feet again

“I already feel a lot better again,” Thomas Huber writes to me from the hospital in the Bavarian town of Traunstein. If that’s not good news! After all, the 49-year-old German top climber – as reported yesterday – had fallen twelve meters deep from a rock face on the Brendlberg near the village of Scheffau. According to the German website bgland24.de, the accident happened when Huber was abseiling. Thomas was standing on a small ledge, unclipped from the belay to take another rope, when he lost his balance. This could have ended in catastrophe. Probably owing only to “1000 guardian angels” (Thomas) and his instinct, nothing worse happened to him.

Date

9. July 2016 | 17:19

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Thomas Huber seriously injured in a fall

Thomas Huber

Thomas Huber

“Contrary to all the reports: I am okay,” Thomas Huber writes on Facebook. “I had 1000 guardian angels.” According to the website bgland24.de, the 49-year-old German top climber fell 20 meters deep from a rock wall on the Brendlberg in the Berchtesgaden region in Bavaria, when he was preparing for filming on Tuesday. Thomas meanwhile said it was a 12-meter-fall. He had opened a new route in the wall in late May. The climber was taken to the hospital of the town of Traunstein. Thomas is said to have suffered a fracture of the skull in the fall. Reportedly he was immediately operated for a blood clot.

Date

8. July 2016 | 11:24

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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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Huber brothers want to tackle the North Face of Latok I

Thomas and Alexander Huber, Dani Arnold, their Pakistani companion Rasool, Mario Walder, Seppi Dabringer (from right)

Thomas and Alexander Huber, Dani Arnold, their Pakistani companion Rasool, Mario Walder, Seppi Dabringer (from right)

The eternal attraction of Latok I. There is hardly another seven-thousander that has been such a hard nut to crack for top climbers from all over the world for the past decades. The first ascent of the highest of the four Latok summits was made 36 years ago. The Japanese Tsuneo Shigehiro, Sin’e Matsumi and Yu Watanabe succeeded on 19 July 1979. They had climbed up from the south via a buttress to the east East Ridge and from there to the highest point. More famous because notorious are the still unconquered North Ridge – and the also unclimbed North Face. This summer, the “Huberbuam”, the German brothers Alexander and Thomas Huber, will try to master this big wall.

Date

24. June 2015 | 10:56

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Hats off to Caldwell and Jorgeson!

Tommy Caldwell (l.) in the Dawn Wall

Tommy Caldwell (l.) in the Dawn Wall

It’s easy to jump on a train that is already standing in the station. However, the climbing train of Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson is still rolling. Pull by pull by pull towards the summit of the legendary granite rock El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. Since 27 December, for two weeks and a half now, the two Americans climb and hang in the 900-meter-high, mostly vertical, partly overhanging “Dawn Wall” – so named, because the South-East face of El Cap catches the first sunrays in the morning. Caldwell and Jorgeson are well on the way to free climbing the extremely challenging big wall for the first time. Means: They only use ropes, bolts, nuts or friends to avoid falling, not for climbing. Actually, don’t count your chickens before they hatch. But in this special case I do it and and take my hat off to Tommy and Kevin by now.

Date

14. January 2015 | 13:59

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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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Huber brothers try to climb Latok I North Face

Alexander Huber

Alexander Huber

2013 was an unusual year for Alexander Huber. The younger of the two Huber brothers was not on expedition, in contrast to his brother Thomas. Instead, the 45-year-old climber published a book (there is no English version yet), in which Alexander commits to fear as open as probably no climber did before. I met him at Leverkusen near my hometown of Cologne where he was holding a lecture. 

Alexander, when will we see you on expedition again?

The next expedition is coming soon. By mid-June we will start to the Karakoram. Let’s see what will happen.

Do you reveal your plan?

Date

2. April 2014 | 13:06

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