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Dominik Mueller: “There will be more climbers on Everest”

North side of Everest in the last daylight

It could be a record season on Mount Everest. After the successful 2016 season, experts are expecting a run on the highest mountain on earth – especially since many climbers want to use their extended permits from 2014 (valid until 2019) and from 2015 (which will run out this year). In 2014, the season in Nepal had been finished prematurely after an avalanche accident in the Khumbu Icefall with 16 deaths. In 2015, there had been no ascents on both sides of the mountain due to the devastating earthquake in Nepal.

Dominik Mueller, head of the German expedition operator Amical alpin, will set off to Everest with a “small but strong team” on 8 April. Three clients, four Climbing Sherpas and he himself will try to reach the 8,850-meter-high summit via the normal route on the Tibetan north side. “I will use bottled oxygen because I believe that I can only support other people as best as possible when using a breathing mask,” says the 46-year-old. “Anyone who climbs Everest without supplemental oxygen is so preoccupied with himself that he probably has no resources left to look after others.” I talked to him about the upcoming season.

Dominik, with what expectations do you set off to the Himalayas?

Date

18. March 2017 | 15:44

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Andy Holzer: “Our chance on Everest is alive”

Andy Holzer on the Rongbuk Glacier near Everest (in 2015)

Andy Holzer has climbed already six of the “Seven Summits”, the highest mountains of all continents. Only the very highest is still missing in the collection of the blind mountaineer from Austria. This spring, the 50-year-old from the town of Lienz in East Tyrol wants to tackle Mount Everest for the third time. During his first go in 2014, the season had been finished prematurely after an avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall had killed 16 Nepalese climbers. In spring 2015, the devastating earthquake in Nepal, with nearly 9,000 deaths, had resulted in no Everest ascents from the south and the north. Like two years ago, Holzer plans to climb Everest via the Tibetan north side. He will be accompanied by his (seeing) East Tyrolean friends Wolfgang Klocker and Klemens Bichler.

Andy, again you are going to Mount Everest – after two attempts in 2014 and 2015, when, for different reasons, you actually were not been given the opportunity to tackle the highest of all mountains. Third time is a charm?

Date

3. March 2017 | 9:09

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China fuels the price spiral – and invests

Tibetan North side of Mount Everest

Tibetan North side of Mount Everest

Climbing on an eight-thousander in Tibet is getting more expensive, not only on Mount Everest. According to documents available to me, the Chinese Mountaineering Association (CMA) has significantly increased the prices for the climbing permits on Everest, Cho Oyu and Shishapangma, on average by more than 30 percent. Since the beginning of the year, the CMA claims 9,950 US dollars per mountaineer for the climb of the highest mountain on earth in case of four or more team members. So far the Everest Permit cost about 7,000 dollars per head. 7,400 dollars are now due for Cho Oyu, 7,150 dollar for climbing Shishapangma from the north side and 7,650 dollars for an ascent from the south side of the mountain. For smaller teams of up to three, the permit costs are even in a five-digit range: 19,500 dollars per person on Everest, 12,600 dollars each on Cho Oyu and Shishapangma.

Date

13. January 2017 | 14:51

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Will Kuriki return next time in winter?

Kuriki at 6,800 m in the Everest North Face

Kuriki at 6,800 m in the Everest North Face

See you! After the Spaniard Kilian Jornet had already left Mount Everest in mid-September, the Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki also broke down the tents on the Tibetan north side of the highest mountain on earth. Simply too much snow, the 34-year-old said. In his summit attempt two weeks ago he had sunk into the snow up to the hip.  As reported, Kuriki had ascended to an altitude of 7,400 meters, solo and without bottled oxygen, until he had been forced back by the masses of snow.

Date

20. October 2016 | 16:19

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Fowler/Ramsden: This time separately successful

Piolet d'Or winners Mick Fowler (r.) and Paul Ramsden

Piolet d’Or winners Mick Fowler (r.) and Paul Ramsden

The tireless have done it again. The British Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden once again set climbing highlights, but, for a change, they were separately under way, with other team partners. Fowler, meanwhile 60 years (!) old, succeeded, along with his countryman Victor Saunders, the first ascent of the North Buttress of the 6100-meter-high Sersank in the North-Indian part of the Himalayas. Paul Ramsden and Nick Bullock climbed the North Face of the 7046-meter-high Nyainqentangla South East in Tibet for the first time. Last April, Fowler and Ramsden had won the Piolet d’Or, the “Oscar of the climbers”, for their first ascent of the 6571-meter-high Gave Ding, a remote mountain in northwestern Nepal. It was already the third “Golden Ice Axe” for the successful British team of two.

Date

12. October 2016 | 15:47

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Kuriki started climbing Everest North Face

Nobukazu Kuriki

Nobukazu Kuriki

That sounds like a dance on a volcano, although Mount Everest isn’t one. According to his team Nobukazu Kuriki has started climbing the snowy Everest North Face. The 34-year-old Japanese wants to climb via the Hornbein Couloir to the 8850-meter-high summit, it said. Probably the “Supercouloir” route is meant, which combines the Japanese Couloir in the lower part with the Hornbein Couloir in the upper part of the wall. The route was opened by the Japanese climbers Tsuneo Shigehiro and Takashi Ozaki in spring 1980. “I am fully focused and start now”, Kuriki said by radio. In recent weeks Nobukazu had repeatedly explored possible ascent routes from the bottom of the wall and referred to high avalanche danger. For this reason, Kilian Jornet – as reported – had abandoned his Everest expedition. The Spaniard, known for his high-speed climbs, to his own words had climbed on the Tibetan normal route up to an altitude of 7,950 meters.

Date

5. October 2016 | 11:33

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Billi Bierling: “More strenuous as expected”

Billi Bierling (l.) and Susanne Mueller Zantop (r.)

Billi Bierling (l.) and Susanne Mueller Zantop (r.)

Anyone who has ever returned from of a summit attempt on a very high mountain – whether successful or not – , knows how German climber Billi Bierling is feeling now. All energy is used up, the adrenaline too – and the exertions of recent days are taking their toll. It takes a while before you revive. Of course, a summit success helps. Not only Billi – as reported – can be pleased about having been on top of Cho Oyu. Her team mate Susanne Mueller Zantop also reached the 8,188-meter-high summit, unlike Billi with bottled oxygen. The 60-year-old thus became the oldest German woman so far who has been on top of Cho Oyu, the sixth highest mountain in the world. For Billi Bierling it was already her fifth summit success on an eight-thousander. Despite of her tiredness, the 49-year-old has answered my questions.

Billi, you have climbed Cho Oyu without bottled oxygen. How did you feel on your ascent?

Date

4. October 2016 | 8:54

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Huge ice avalanche in Tibet

After the huge ice avalanche

After the huge ice avalanche

This summer a mega ice avalanche has swept down on the Tibetan plateau. In the Aru Range in northwestern Tibet a whole glacier tongue broke off and tumbled down into the valley. Scientists say it was one of the largest ice avalanches ever recorded. According to the Chinese authorities this natural event, which already occurred on 17 July, killed nine Tibetan herders. More than 350 sheep and 110 yaks were buried under the ice and rock masses. The American space agency NASA now published satellite images which show the dimension: The ice covered an area of ten square kilometers, the lake down in the valley was colored white and the debris piled up 30 meters in some places. The cause of the collapse is still unclear. “Climate change is causing more glacial hazards through mechanisms we do not fully understand,” said the Chinese glaciologist Tian Lide. “There is an urgent need for more monitoring and research efforts, especially in populated areas in high mountains.”

I called the Swiss scientist Samuel Nussbaumer. The 35-year-old glaciologist is working for the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) in Zurich, which is observing and analyzing the fluctuation of glaciers worldwide.

Date

16. September 2016 | 12:54

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The “Everest Fall Man” is back

Nobukazu Kuriki

Nobukazu Kuriki

He is going to make it a round half-dozen. For the sixth time, Japanese Nobukazu Kuriki wants to tackle Mount Everest in the post-monsoon season. The 34-year-old says, he is planning to climb the highest mountain on earth solo, without bottled oxygen, this time via the Tibetan north side. Last year Kuriki had tried to reach the summit from the Nepalese south side – and had failed on Everest for the fifth time: He climbed up to 8,150 meters, about 200 meters above the South Col, before he abandoned his summit attempt due to deep snow and strong winds.

Date

16. August 2016 | 5:06

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Steck: “Basically I believe he can make it”

Kilian Jornet (l.) and Ueli Steck (r.) on the Eiger

Kilian Jornet (l.) and Ueli Steck (r.) on the Eiger

Ambitious or overwinded? The climbers’ scene is discussing the upcoming Everest project of the Spaniard Kilian Jornet. As reported before, the 28-year-old Catalan will set off to Tibet next Sunday to climb or rather run up the highest mountain on earth, within his project “Summits of my life”. The plan sounds crazy: if possible in a single push from Rongbuk Monastery to the 8850-meter-high summit; without bottled oxygen and Sherpa support; if the conditions on the mountain are right, on a seldom climbed route (Norton or Hornbein Couloir); and as if all that were not enough, in the monsoon. Of course, this evokes memories of Reinhold Messner’s legendary Everest solo in 1980. But Jornet will not be climbing alone. And he is a completely different type of climber than the South Tyrolean was at that time.

Date

3. August 2016 | 18:46

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“Forrest Gump of the mountains” wants climb Everest

Kilian Jornet

Kilian Jornet

It sounds as if someone overextends himself completely. On Sunday next week (7 August), the Spaniard Kilian Jornet wants to ​​set off to Tibet to climb Mount Everest. Not in the “usual” way but speedy, in a single push, without bottled oxygen and Sherpa support, on a seldom used route, during the monsoon season. And the 28-year-old has never before been above 8,000 meters. Plenty of reasons to be skeptical and suspect that it just could be a cleverly arranged PR stunt – were it not for Kilian Jornet and his partner on the mountain, Jordi Tosas.

Date

29. July 2016 | 12:22

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Everest season “very smoothly”

North side of Everest in the last daylight

North side of Everest in the last daylight

“It was a good season,” Nishma Khadgi writes to me. She is responsible for marketing at Asian Trekking, the leading expedition operator in Nepal. “Things are largely normalized and morale of climbers and sherpas are positive which make us optimistic for the future seasons.” According to the Nepalese Tourism Ministry, this spring 456 climbers reached the summit of Mount Everest from the south side of the mountain, 199 were climbers from abroad. The official figures from the north side are still not available.

Nepalese Mingma Gyalje Sherpa and Swiss Kari Kobler are two other expedition leaders who have responded to my request to tell me their personal record of this spring’s Everest season. Mingma was on the south side, Kari on the north side. Both are now staying in Pakistan, where they lead expeditions to K 2, the second highest mountain on Earth. And they have another thing in common: Both expedition leaders scaled themselves Mount Everest in May.

Date

21. June 2016 | 11:59

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Without bottle to the summit

Thomas Laemmle on top of Mount Everest

Thomas Laemmle on top of Mount Everest

He has a written proof. The China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA) certificated that Thomas Laemmle reached the summit of Mount Everest without bottled oxygen on 23 May. As reported before, the German was among a handful of climbers who made it to the highest point at 8,850 meters without breathing mask this spring. “Finally, I took four breaths per step,” Thomas writes to me from Kathmandu, where he is waiting for the flight home. “But I was not at my limit. I was able to enjoy the climb, because it was almost windless and relatively warm. Unfortunately, the summit was wrapped in a cloud.”

Date

1. June 2016 | 15:33

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Steck and Goettler after Shishapangma South Face: “Only postponed”

Ueli Steck and David Goettler in Shishapangma South Face

Ueli Steck and David Goettler in Shishapangma South Face

It was one of the most exciting climbing projects of this spring’s season in the Himalayas. Swiss top climber Ueli Steck and German David Goettler initially planned to open a new direct route through the South Face of 8,027-meter-high Shishapangma. But they were not able to put it into practice. They “only” climbed the so called “Corredor Girona” route, opened by a Spanish team in 1995, up to the ridge at 7,800 meters and in their last attempt the route of the British first-ascenders of the South Face in 1982, Doug Scott, Alex MacIntyre and Roger Baxter-Jones, up to 7,600 meters. Even though they failed to climb a new route, Ueli and David didn’t return empty-handed from Tibet. I called the 39-year-old Swiss and the 37-year-old German in their hotel in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu.

Satisfied, disappointed or some of both? How do you feel after this expedition?

Date

30. May 2016 | 10:34

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Bravo, Everest Ladies!

Melissa Arnot

Melissa Arnot

Female Power on Mount Everest. There were two women among the handful of climbers who have so far reached the 8850- meter-high summit without bottled oxygen this spring season: Melissa Arnot and Carla Perez. Before them, only six female climbers had succeeded this feat: Lydia Bradey (New Zealand, in 1988), Alison Hargreaves (UK, in 1995), Francys Arsentiev (USA, in 1998, she died on descend), La Ji (China, in 2004), Nives Meroi (Italy, in 2010) and Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner (Austria, in 2010).

Date

25. May 2016 | 9:53

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