Safety is primarily a feeling. Often we don’t even realize the lurking objective danger. And if we do, then usually only if we have no other option than facing the danger. A week ago I have returned from my trekking in Khumbu, the region around Mount Everest. Eleven months have passed since the devastating earthquake in Nepal. I think that my senses were quite sharpened because it was an objective of my journey to inform myself about the consequences of the quake. I can send all the people who want to travel to the region for trekking or climbing on their way with my experience: I felt perfectly safe in Khumbu.
Date31. March 2016 | 13:27
A 15-meter-high climbing wall in the middle of the tourist quarter Thamel in Kathmandu – who would have thought it? “The wall is the nursery for the sport of climbing in Nepal”, Dawa Steven Sherpa tells me. “All of the young ambitious Sherpa climbers have trained here.” I meet the 32-year-old in the office of “Asian Trekking”. Along with his father Ang Tshering Sherpa, Dawa Steven is managing the leading Nepalese expedition operator. I talk with him about this spring season on Everest – after the avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall in 2014 that killed 16 Nepalese climberes and the earthquake in 2015, that triggered an avalanche from the 7000er Pumori that hit Everest Base Camp killing 19 climbers.
Dawa Steven, Asian Trekking once again offers an Eco Everest Expedition this spring. Will it take place?
Yes, it will start from Kathmandu on 6 April. So far we have 14 foreign members and 21 Sherpas but this number will change by the end of the month.
Do you notice that there is a lower demand this year?
Date29. March 2016 | 16:21
TagsAsian Trekking, Dawa Steven Sherpa, Expedition operators, Kathmandu, Mount Everest, Nepal, Permits, Spring season, Thamel, Tibet
P.S.: Today I returned from Nepal. Next week, there will be some more stories from there.
Date26. March 2016 | 17:27
Perfect timing. Just when we reach the 5380-meter-high summit of Gokyo Ri, the clouds around the top of Mount Everest, Lhotse and Makalu turn orange. „The mountains are burning“, our guide Dipak Giri says. Step by step the first sunlight also meets the other summits around us: the eight-thousander Cho Oyu, the six-thousanders Cholatse, Kantega, Thamserku and in the distance Gaurishankar. A 360-degree panorama which is without equal. We were the only ones, who set off from Gokyo at 4,770 meters at 4 a.m. to admire this unique spectacle. Now we are sitting below the prayer flags and hardly believe our eyes.
Date22. March 2016 | 12:35
Phurba Tashi is a man of few words. The 45-year-old replies friendly but shortly. “This year, I will definitely not climb Mount Everest”, Phurba tells me when we sit down for a few minutes on a bench in front of his “Tashi Friendship Lodge” in the village of Khumjung. Actually, he has no time to talk to me because his family has gathered for a religious ceremony to commemorate Phurba’s parents who both died in the past six months. Some Buddhist monks have come to his Lodge. “The death of my parents is also the reason why I renounce the ascent this time,” says Phurba.
Date18. March 2016 | 15:00
TagsApa Sherpa, Himalayan Experience, Khumjung, Mount Everest, Phurba Tashi, record, Tashi Friendship Lodge, Yeti skull
“I don’t have any ambitions to climb Mount Everest,” says Ang Dorjee Sherpa. “Too dangerous! Finally, I have a wife and three children.” However, the 47-year-old was a member of Everest expeditions twice. At the end of 1991, Ang Dorjee worked as “Mail Man” for a Japanese expedition who wanted to climb the mighty Southwest Face for the first time in winter. The Sherpa brought the news of the failure at 8,350 meters as “postal runner” into the valley. Two years later the Japanese were back again – and successfully: A total of six climbers reached the summit on a partially new route, the first team on 18 December 1993. The first ascent of the wall in (meteorological, not calendrical) winter was done. That time, Ang Dorjee did not play the postman, but worked as a cook for the Japanese.
Date17. March 2016 | 15:07
TagsAD Friendship Lodge, Ang Dorjee Sherpa, Earthquake, Mount Everest, Namche Bazaar, Nepal, Southwest Face
Dorje Sherpa is familiar with Everest disasters. In 1996, 20 years ago, he reached the summit of the highest mountain on earth for the first time. Then he belonged to the IMAX film team of the American David Breashears, when a storm in the summit area killed eight climbers within 24 hours. “We were then in Camp 2 at 6,400 meters”, the 50-year-old tells me in his “Buddha Lodge” in the village of Phakding, which lies on the popular trekking route to Everest Base Camp.
Date16. March 2016 | 13:08
TagsAvalanche, Base Camp, Buddha Lodge, Dorje Sherpa, Earthquake, Khumbu Icefall, Khumbu-Kölsch, Phakding
Chautara appears as if the devastating earthquake had hit it recently, not almost eleven months before. About 15,000 people are living in the city at an altitude of 1,500 meters, the administrative headquarter of Sindhupalchowk District, which was particularly hard-hit by the earthquake on 25 April last year. On the main street many ruined houses still witness to the disaster that killed more than 3,500 people in this mountain region. In many villages about 90 percent of the houses collapsed. The cleanup is progressing slowly. Too heavy are the wounds that the earthquake has ripped, not only at the buildings, but also for the city’s inhabitants. “There is still a very great problem of health,” says doctor Sabina Parajuli. “Those who were injured that time, have not fully recovered because of lots of problems, especially in their limbs. They were operated at that time and not able to do their normal activites. They were the only family members with income, but they are not working and are not getting money. And the other family members are busy with taking care of them.” In addition, infectious diseases such as vomiting or diarrhea spread quickly because the people live in crowded shelters.
Date15. March 2016 | 18:52
TagsChautara, Earthquake, Hospital, Nepal, Post traumatic disorders, Sabina Parachuli, Sindhupalchowk
“They lost their houses and all their property, but they didn’t lose their plans,” says Arjun Gatraj about the people of his native village Thulosirubari. “There is still hope.” Not only for better times for themselves, but also for their children. “They feel that education is important for their children. They sent them directly after the earthquake as soon as we started the school again.” Arjun is the chairman of the school committee of Thulosirubari, a small mountain village, about 70 kilometers from the Nepalese capital Kathmandu. Almost every family has been affected by the earthquake. “75 people died, among them eight of our students”, Arjun tells me during my visit in Thulosirubari. “About 1800 houses were destroyed, only 30 to 40 are still intact.”
Date14. March 2016 | 18:52
TagsAid project: School up!, Earthquake, Nepal, Nepalhilfe Beilngries, Sangachok, Sindhupalchowk, Thulosirubari
“I am now 57 years old,” says Sunil. “And that was the most dramatic experience I ever had.” The Nepalese is talking about 25 April last year, when the earth shook Nepal. Nearly 9,000 people were killed. Then Sunil was among 2,500 guests of an event in a hall in the capital Kathmandu.”Suddenly the whole building began to shake. All people hurried towards the exit, which was much too small for this sudden rush”, Sunil recalls. “The people fell over each other, there was a panic. I thought there’s no point, I have to stay inside. If I will not survive, so be it.” The hall withstood the tremors. Sunil escaped with a fright.
Date12. March 2016 | 3:02
It was close in two respects. Tamara Lunger only narrowly missed the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat, then the 29-year-old South Tyrolean just escaped with her life. Just below the 8,125-meter-high summit, Tamara exhaustedly informed her Italian teammate Simone Moro that she would be able to climb up to the highest point but would not come down without help. Shortly afterwards, she turned around. Simone, the Spaniard Alex Txikon and the Pakistani Muhammad Ali (also known as “Ali Sadpara” – called after his home village) reached the summit without her. On the descent, Lunger lost her balance after jumping across a crevasse near the highest camp. She slid around 200 meters towards the abyss until she came to hold in loose snow with good luck. Meanwhile, the climber is back home in South Tyrol.
Tamara, first of all congratulations on your performance! Have you meanwhile recovered from the strains?
Thanks, Stefan. I must say that I have overcome the strains of the “near-summit” but not yet the consequences of my fall. My ankle is still swollen. I will get it checked up on Monday, but there is certainly something torn. 🙁
Date7. March 2016 | 14:34
TagsAlex Txikon, Ali Sadpara, Interview, Muhammad Ali, Nanga Parbat, Simone Moro, Tamara Lunger, winter ascent
A sport climbing shoe on one foot, an ice shoe with crampons on the other – Ines Papert should patent this idiosyncratic technique. The German top climber recently created it in a difficult passage in the East Face of the 2800-meter-high Torre Central in Patagonia. “The pitch left me with no other choice”, says Ines. She really used all means to fight up the extremely difficult route “Riders on the Storm”: “I took my ice axes not only for climbing but for protection too.” Along with the 36-year-old New Zealander Mayan Smith-Gobat, the 41-year-old Papert succeeded the only fifth climb of the route on the granite tower which had been opened by the German climbing legends Wolfgang Guellich, Kurt Albert, Bernd Arnold, Norbert Baetz and Peter Dittrich in 1991.
Date3. March 2016 | 14:09
The upcoming spring season on Everest casts its shadows before. Ten “Icefall doctors” were sent to the Base Camp on the Nepalese side of the highest mountain on earth to prepare the route for the commercial expeditions. In the past two years, there had been no summit successes from the south (I deliberately ignore the “success” of Chinese climber Wang Jing and her Sherpa-Team in 2014 who had been flown to Camp 2 by helicopter). In 2014, the spring season had prematurely ended after an ice avalanche in Khumbu Icefall had killed 16 Nepalese climbers. In 2015, the 25 April earthquake had triggered a huge avalanche from Pumori that had hit Everest Base Camp and killed 19 people.
On Monday, the Nepalese cabinet – at last! – gave green light for the extension of the 2015 climbing permits by two years. “It is a welcome move from the government that we hope will help bring back the climbers to the mountains”, said Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association. But it might be too late for many of the about 800 climbers who got a 2015 permit, including 357 Everest aspirants, to return already this spring.
I asked Mingma Gyalje Sherpa about the upcoming season. The 29-year-old, who has already climbed seven eight-thousanders and recently made headlines by solo climbing the difficult West Face of 6685-meter-high Chobutse for the first time, is head of the Kathmandu based expedition and trekking operator Dreamers Destination.
Mingma, the spring season is around the corner. What do you expect, especially on Mount Everest?
Date1. March 2016 | 17:40
TagsDreamers Destination, Icefall Doctors, Interview, Mingma Sherpa, Mount Everest, Nepalese Government, Operators, Permits, Rules