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with Stefan Nestler

A drone for rescue and more summit successes in the Karakoram

Broad Peak

For me, drones come right after leaf blowers. I find the noise generated by the increasingly popular flying machines extremely annoying. Drones sound like mutated giant bumblebees. Torture for my ears. But even I have to admit: On the eight-thousander Broad Peak in the Karakoram in Pakistan, a drone and the guy who flew it did a great job. Eight days ago, on 9 July, the 64-year-old Briton Rick Allen set off alone for a summit attempt. His teammates stayed in Camp 3 at 7,000 meters. When Rick didn’t return, they sounded the alarm because they feared Allen might have been injured or even died. Sandy Allan, who had already descended to base camp due to strong winds in the summit area, contacted the Polish Bargiel brothers in the nearby K2 Base Camp. Andrzej Bargiel is planning to ski the second highest mountain in the world from the summit to base camp for the first time this summer. His brother Bartek is filming the project – also using a drone.

Date

17. July 2018 | 14:19

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Italian climber dies on Gasherbrum IV

Maurizio Giordano (1986-2018), R.I.P.

Third death of the summer season in the Karakoram: The Italian news agency ANSA reports that Maurizio Giordano died today after he had been hit by an ice chunk on the 7,925-meter-high Gasherbrum IV. The accident occurred at 6,300 meters when the 32-year-old and his team mates Marco Majori, Marco Farina and Daniele Bernasconi were on their descent from Camp 2. The four members of the Italian army expedition wanted to be the first to repeat the route via the Northeast Ridge opened by their compatriots Walter Bonatti and Carlo Mauri, who had first climbed Gasherbrum IV 60 years ago.

Date

11. July 2018 | 14:14

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Summit success reported from Nanga Parbat

Kim Mi-gon

This summer’s first summit success on an eight-thousander in Pakistan has been reported. The Pakistani expedition operator “Summit Karakoram” informed that South Korean Kim Mi-gon, Taiwanese Lu Chung-han and Sanu Sherpa from Nepal had reached the 8125-meter-high summit of Nanga Parbat on Monday. The 45-year-old Kim thus completed his collection of the 14 eight-thousanders, it said.

Date

10. July 2018 | 22:50

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Hansjörg Auer succeeds first ascent on a 7000er – solo

Hansjörg Auer on top of Lupghar Sar West

This is a real milestone. The Austrian Hansjörg Auer says, he succeeded the first ascent of a big wall of a seven-thousander in the Karakoram – solo. “I climbed the West Face of Lupghar Sar West for the first time. I took a line on the left side and finished my route up the steep Northwest Ridge with very loose rock to the top at 7,157 meters,” the 34-year-old extreme climber wrote on Instagram. Hansjörg had set off to Pakistan in mid-June for his solo project. His originally planned climbing partner and friend Alexander Blümel had to call off due to health problems.

Date

9. July 2018 | 19:03

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Canadian climber dies on K2

K 2, seen from Base Camp

Another sad message from the Karakoram: The Canadian climber Serge Dessureault fell to his death at K2, the second highest mountain on earth, from an altitude of 6,700 metres. This was announced by the Alpine Club of Pakistan. The 53-year-old’s body was taken to the Advance Base Camp. Dessureault had led an expedition from Quebec. The four members wanted to be the first climbers from this Canadian province to reach the 8,611-metre-high summit of K2. They wanted to ascend via the so-called Abruzzi route (the Southeast ridge).

Date

7. July 2018 | 17:15

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“Good-weather disturbance” in the Karakoram

A lot of snow on Gasherbrum II

A short snowfall break in the Karakoram – or, as Felix Berg describes it from Gasherbrum II with a twinkle in his eye “a small good-weather disturbance”. Time for the climbers to stuck their noses into the wind and to reconsider their plans. Dominik Müller, head and expedition leader of the German operator Amical alpin has decided to strike the tents on the 8,051-meter-high Broad Peak and to return home. “All the equipment from Camp 1 was recovered,” Dominik writes on Facebook today. “Just now it’s snowing again, and during our ascent there were some avalanches!” The porters have been ordered for Sunday.

Date

5. July 2018 | 16:30

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Climber dies in avalanche in Pakistan

Rescue on 7000er

An Austrian climber was killed in an avalanche accident on the 7,338-meter-high Ultar Sar in the Karakoram. Christian Huber died on Friday when the snow masses hit the tent he and his team-mates Bruce Normand and Timothy Miller had pitched on a ridge at an altitude of 5,800 meters. The two uninjured British and the body of Huber were taken from the mountain this Sunday by a rescue helicopter of the Pakistani army. An army spokesman said it was a “daring mission”. The first emergency call had been received on Saturday morning. Bad weather had prevented the helicopter from taking off earlier.

Date

1. July 2018 | 20:38

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Snow is slowing down climbers in Pakistan

Broad Peak Base Camp in deep snow

Summer in the Karakorum? At the moment it feels more like winter, at least in terms of precipitation. For days Mother Holle has been shaking out her mattress over Pakistan’s highest mountains. “Snowfall all day long”, writes Dominik Müller, head and expedition leader of the German operator Amical alpin at the foot of the eight-thousander Broad Peak. “Our base camp is slowly turning into a winter landscape. Avalanches barrel down from the slopes every hour!” The Austrian expedition leader Lukas Furtenbach, from Broad Peak too, takes the same lime: “Tough weather conditions this year”. The situation on the other eight-thousanders in Pakistan is not different. No matter if from the neighbouring K 2, Gasherbrum I and II or Nanga Parbat – the same messages everywhere: Lots of snow, high avalanche risk.

Date

29. June 2018 | 22:13

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“School up!” – Building No. 3 is growing

Shyam Pandit (l.) at the construction site at Thulosirubari

The construction work is going smoothly,” writes Shyam Pandit, liaison man of the German aid organisation Nepalhilfe Beilngries” in Nepal. In Thulosirubari, a small mountain village about 70 kilometers east of the capital Kathmandu, the third part of the new school with eight additional classrooms is being built. The foundations are laid, the base plate is soon to be concreted. If all goes well, this third building could be ready by 2019. The first two buildings with classrooms for twelve school classes were – as reported – ceremonially inaugurated in March. At that time Ralf Dujmovits, the only German climber so far who stood on all 14 eight-thousanders, and I laid the foundation stone for the next construction phase in Thulosirubari.

Date

29. June 2018 | 10:00

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Did Nobukazu Kuriki overtighten the screw?

Everest Southwest Face

What did Nobukazu Kuriki really intend on Everest? This question has been bothering me ever since the 35-year-old Japanese climber was found dead on 21 May at an altitude of about 6,600 meters. Nobukazu had made a secret of his exact plan in the weeks before. He wanted to climb through the Southwest Fall, his office said after Kuriki’s death. Solo and without bottled oxygen, as he had claimed for himself? If Nobukazu had only fulfilled one of these two conditions, he would have already made Everest history.

Date

26. June 2018 | 7:58

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Hansjörg Auer: 7000er solo project in Pakistan

Lupghar Sar in northern Pakistan

“I expect for sure some intensive moments,” says Hansjörg Auer. The 34-year-old extreme climber from Austria set off to Pakistan last weekend for a solo project. Hansjörg will tackle the West Face of the 7,181-meter-high Lupghar Sar West. “For me, it will be a special kind of project to see if I can carry out the next step of my climbing career,” Hansjörg said in a video published on Facebook before his departure.

Date

20. June 2018 | 18:30

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“Hypoxia expedition” successfully completed

With Nancy Hansen (r.) and Ralf Dujmovits in the DLR hypoxia chamber

And suddenly the call came from space: “Here is Alex”. At first Ralf Dujmovits did not know who was talking at the other end of the telephone line: “Alex? Then I suddenly recognized the voice I had heard two days earlier during the broadcast of the rocket launch.” Alexander Gerst inquired from the International Space Station (ISS) about the condition of the German climber and his Canadian partner Nancy Hansen in the hypoxia chamber of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne. “It sounded like he was sitting next door.” For a quarter of an hour, Ralf, the first and so far only German climber to have scaled all 14 eight-thousanders, spoke to “Astro Alex”, the first German astronaut to take command of the ISS. “He was very interested in our experience in the lab. That was great.” Of course, Nancy talked to Gerst too. For both climbers it was a “real highlight”, says the 49-year-old Canadian.

Date

18. June 2018 | 15:16

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8000er season in Pakistan is on

Nanga Parbat

The spring season on Nepal’s highest mountains has segued almost seamlessly into the summer season on Pakistan’s eight-thousanders. The first expedition teams have reached the base camps. The South African adventurer Mike Horn arrived on the Diamir side of Nanga Parbat a week ago. In the meantime, the 51-year-old and his teammates have already climbed up to 5,900 meters. Maya Sherpa is tackling the 8125-meter-high mountain too. In May, the 40-year-old Sherpani had had to turn back on Kangchenjunga at about 8,500 metres. Less than 100 meters of altitude difference had been missing to the summit. With the Romanian Alex Gavan and the Turkish Tunc Findik, two other well-known climbers have set off for Nanga Parbat. The 36-year-old Gavan, who failed on Dhaulagiri in spring, has so far scaled six eight-thousanders.  For the 46-year-old Findik, Turkey’s most successful high-altitude climber, Nanga Parbat would be his twelfth of the 14 eight-thousanders if successful.

Date

13. June 2018 | 15:46

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A mess on Everest

Garbage in Everest high camp

“Damn it! What a mess,” I cursed this morning as I rode my bike to work after the sunny weekend. “Are these peoples’ brains turned off?” The path was paved with plastic cups, fast food packaging, barbecue trays and shards of broken beer bottles. It looked similar, albeit with other, sometimes even less appetizing ingredients, after this spring season in the high camps on Mount Everest. Even bags with faeces were lying around. The Mexican climber David Liano Gonzalez documented this mess with pictures. “I’ve been a part of ‚Eco Everest Expeditions‘ for ten years. We have brought down more than ten tons of trash. I carry down my own poop on special bags,” the 38-year-old, who scaled the highest mountain on earth for the seventh time this year, writes to me. “I try to leave the mountain cleaner than I found it. But with so many people, no oversight and no mountain ethics, the problem is out of control.”

Date

11. June 2018 | 15:55

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Death on Cho Oyu

Upper slopes on Cho Oyu

The good news first: The finished spring season in the Himalayas has shown that coordinated rescue operations for climbers in serious trouble are also possible in Tibet. For example, the Chinese authorities even allowed the use of Nepalese rescue helicopters in the case of the Bulgarian Boyan Petrov, missing on the eight-thousander Shishapangma. At the same time, a team consisting of three Sherpas and three Chinese climbers, was searching for Boyan directly on the mountain’s slopes. Unfortunately in vain. But the cooperation between Nepalese and Tibetan rescuers could have set standards for the future. Also on the 8,188-meter high Cho Oyu, a three-person Chinese-Tibetan rescue team was deployed immediately after an emergency call. Now for the bad news: As with Petrov, there was no happy ending in this case too. And the world hasn’t heard about it either –till today.

Date

7. June 2018 | 15:55

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