It looks as if he has made it. David Lama is said to have succeeded the first ascent of the 6,895-meter-high Lunag Ri in Nepal. I am even a little more cautious than many other media from all over the world, because the 28-year-old top climber himself has not yet confirmed his coup. Even his office at home in Austria is still in silence. My inquiry there remained so far unanswered. The only source so far is American climber Conrad Anker, who congratulated David a few days ago on the social networks, “on your successful solo ascent and descent of Lunag Ri. Third time is a charm!“
Date31. October 2018 | 13:46
Even the master of the impossible sometimes faces profane problems. “Get in, I still have to find a parking space,” Adam Ondra tells me when we meet two weeks ago at the agreed place in the centre of the northern Italian city of Trento. The 25-year-old Czech is one of the top stars of a sports festival to which he has travelled with his van from his hometown Brno.
Ondra has been pushing the limits of sport climbing for years. Already at the age of 13, he climbed a route with a 9a degree of difficulty on the French scale which is commonl in the sport climbing scene – which in the rating of the International Climbing and Mountaineering Association (UIAA) corresponds to a route in the eleventh degree. For comparison: Reinhold Messner mastered the seventh degree at his best times as a rock climber. At the end of 2016, Ondra succeeded the first repetition of the “Dawn Wall” route on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, which is considered the most difficult big wall route in the world, in just eight days. In September 2017, he mastered an extremely overhanging route in a cave near Flatander in Norway – the world’s first 9c (twelfth degree in the UIAA scale). The climbing world bowed once more to Ondra, nobody doubted his rating.
After guiding Adam to the parking garage in Trento, where my car is parked too, we use the way back to the venue for the interview.
Adam, you’re climbing since you were a little boy. Can you imagine that one day you’ll get tired of it?
Date26. October 2018 | 17:30
Tags9c route, Adam Ondra, Alex Megos, Combined Olympic Format, Dawn Wall, Flatander, Olympic Games 2020, Silence, Sport climbing
Winter climbing on the eight-thousanders was previously reserved for the best and toughest. In the 1980s, the heyday of winter expeditions to the world’s highest mountains, the Polish experts for the cold season were called “Ice Warriors”. In that decade they achieved seven winter first ascents of eight-thousanders. Krzysztof Wielicki and Leszek Cichy kicked off on 17 February 1980 on the highest of all mountains, Mount Everest. It’s strange that a commercial winter expedition might pitch up their tents there for the first time.
Date24. October 2018 | 19:50
Tags14 Peak Expedition, Alex Txikon, Arnold Coster Expedition, commercial winter expedition, Mount Everest, Seven Summit Treks
The 59-year-old is a phenomenon, a living climbing legend: Austrian Beat Kammerlander is still overcoming vertical walls, almost without climbing grips – preferably in the Rätikon, quasi on his own doorstep. The Vorarlberg native lives with his wife Christine and their two children in the city of Feldkirch. A week ago, at the “International Mountain Summit” (IMS) in Brixen, Kammerlander received the renowned “Paul Preuss Award“, which honours climbers who stand in the tradition of the free climbing pioneer who fell to his death in 1913. Preuss had pleaded for a far-reaching renunciation of climbing equipment such as ropes or bolts (“Skill is the measure of what is allowed.”). “Actually, the award could also be called the ‘Beat Kammerlander Award’,” said Hanspeter Eisendle from South Tyrol, winner of the prize in 2013, in his laudation. I spoke with Kammerlander during the IMS.
Beat, next year you’ll be 60 years old and you’re still climbing crazy tours. Will you tell us the secret of your success?
Date20. October 2018 | 22:14
TagsBattle zone, Beat Kammerlander, Extreme climber, IMS, International Mountain Summit, Paul Preuss Award, Rätikon
He himself was the most dangerous polar bear in Greenland. Whenever the German extreme climber Robert Jasper pitched up his tent last summer during his one-month solo expedition in the eternal ice, he built a protective fence against polar bears around it. If one of the predators had touched the fence, a flare would have gone off to chase the polar bear away – and of course to warn Robert. One day, however, the 50-year-old was so in mind that he touched the fence when he wanted to climb over it. “I almost blew myself up,” says Jasper.
Date18. October 2018 | 20:51
TagsGreenland, IMS, International Mountain Summit, Molar Spire, Robert Jasper, Solo expedition, Stonecircle
“I often wish I had been born a hundred years ago,” says Tamara Lunger. “When I hear the 90-year-olds talking, I think to myself: Oh, they were still adventurers! Today we are only pussies compared to them.” Yet, in 2010, at the age of 23, the professional climber from South Tyrol stood on the summit of the eight-thousander Lhotse, as the youngest woman at that time, and in 2014, she scaled K2, the second highest mountain on earth, without bottled oxygen.
During the “International Mountain Summit” in Brixen I am hiking with Tamara from the Latzfonserkreuz downhill. Her parents are keeping the alpine hut up there. We talk about Tamara’s adventures of the past years. The 32-year-old is a honest soul and doesn’t mince her words: “People tell me: ‘You can talk easily, you can live what gives you pleasure.’ However, sometimes there is something negative in my pleasure that I have to accept and learn from. That’s actually what’s important.”
Date17. October 2018 | 7:14
TagsGora Pobeda, IMS, International Mountain Summit, Kangchenjunga, Nanga Parbat, Simone Moro, Tamara Lunger
I will miss the IMS. After ten years of “International Mountain Summit” in Brixen it’s over. The voluntary organisers, Alex Ploner and Markus Gaiser, who had put a lot of heartblood into this extraordinary mountain festival every year, are throwing in the towel. The reason: Lack of support from outside. A real pity! Year after year at the IMS, former and current stars of the scene were streaming in and out: Reinhold Messner, Sir Chris Bonington, Doug Scott, the Huber brother, Steve House, Alex Honnold, Ueli Steck, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, Ralf Dujmovits and so on. Not only did they give lectures, but they also went hiking with other mountain friends in the mountains of South Tyrol. That was the special attraction of the IMS. I have always enjoyed this “walk and talk” very much.
Date14. October 2018 | 16:52
TagsBeat Kammerlander, Brixen, IMS 2018, International Mountain Summit, Latzfonser Kreuz, Latzfonserkreuz, Robert Jasper, Tamara Lunger
Sad news from the 7193-meter-high Gurja Himal in western Nepal: Nine members of a Korean expedition died there according to the Nepalese operator “Trekking Camp Nepal”. A violent snow storm followed by a landslide completely devastated the base camp of the expedition at 3,500 meters. A helicopter crew saw seven bodies, two more climbers were missing. According to the operator, five Koreans and four Nepalese died.
Date13. October 2018 | 17:59
There are people who seem to be able to override the law of gravity. Alex Megos is one of them. The 25-year-old German from the city of Erlangen is one of the best sports climbers in the world. At the age of 19, he was the first in the world to master onsight a route in the Spanish climbing area of Siurana in French grade 9a, which corresponds to eleventh grade according to the classic UIAA difficulty scale. For comparison: Reinhold Messner climbed the seventh degree in his best days. Onsight means that Alex simply climbed straight on without having got any information about the route beforehand. This coup opened the door to professional climbing for him. This spring, Megos added another highlight: He managed the first ascent of the route “Perfecto Mundo” in the climbing area Margalef in the northeast of Spain (see video below showing one of his failed attempts), his first 9b+ (according to UIAA scale a climb in the lower twelfth degree). A single route worldwide is currently considered even more difficult.
I met Alex Megos during the 10th International Mountain Summit (IMS) in Brixen, South Tyrol, where the big names of the mountain scene have been passing the mike to each other for years.
Alex, you are one of only three climbers in the world who have climbed a route with difficulty level 9b+. So you’re right at the front of the pack. How does that feel?
Date12. October 2018 | 7:29
Tags9b+, Adam Andra, Alex Megos, Brixen, Chris Sharma, International Mountain Summit, Olympics 2020 Tokio, Perfecto Mundo, Sport climbing, Stefano Ghisolfi
The Central Peak is not the main summit of Shishapangma. Climbers and expedition operators who tackle this eight-thousander in Tibet should know this. The Central Peak is at 8,008 meters. From there, the normal route continues over a ridge to the 19 meter higher main summit at 8,027 meters. Only when this is reached, Shishapangma is officially considered as scaled. Many are not too particular about this rule. And so the news was premature that a Chinese expedition had scaled Shishapangma on 29 September and that Luo Jing was the first woman from the “Middle Kingdom” to complete the 14 eight-thousanders. Just a few days later, a Basque mountaineer, who had ascended the same day, piped up and said that nobody had climbed the ridge to the main summit due to bad weather. “They were clearly only on the Central Peak,” tells me Eberhard Jurgalski, German chronicler of mountaineering in the Himalayas and Karakorum, who had received a video of the Chinese group from their turning point. “Luo Jing has already admitted this publicly.”
Date11. October 2018 | 12:43
Tags14 eight-thousanders, Central Peak, Eberhard Jurgalski, Hauptgipfel, Hong-Juan Dong, Luo Jing, Main Summit, Shishapangma, Zhang Liang
There is a proverb in German speaking countries saying: “Three times is divine”. Once again David Lama is currently tackling the still unclimbed 6895-meter-high Lunag Ri in Nepal – however, this time on his own from the very beginning. The technically difficult mountain is located in the Rolwaling Himal on the border between Nepal and Tibet, more than 35 kilometers as the crow flies northwest of Mount Everest. In 2015 and in 2016, the 28-year-old top climber from Austria had failed on the “almost seven-thousander”, both times about 300 meters below the summit – on the first attempt via the Northeast Ridge along with the experienced American climber Conrad Anker. Lama and Anker had also been team mates for the second try, but Conrad had suffered a heart attack on the mountain and had had to leave the expedition prematurely. David had then tried to reach the highest point solo over a slightly modified route – in vain. He had run out of time and strength.
Date10. October 2018 | 16:17
Once again, he has almost sprinted up a wall. Last August, Swiss Dani Arnold climbed the Grandes Jorasses North Face solo and without rope in the new record time of 2:04 hours. In 1938, it had taken the first climbers (led by Italian Riccardo Cassin) three days to complete the route via the Walker Spur. Since 2015, the 34-year-old is also holding the speed record for climbing the North Face of the Matterhorn (1:46 hours). Dani had made his first bang in 2011 when he broke Ueli Steck’s record in the Eiger North Face by 20 minutes and reached the summit after 2:28 hours. Steck had regained the best time in 2015 (2:22 hours).
Dani Arnold is a mountain guide and lives with his wife Denise in the canton of Uri in the 4,000-person village of Bürglen, where more than 200 inhabitants (no joke, he confirmed it to me) bear the name Arnold. I met Dani in my hometown Cologne – before his appearance as the main speaker of the Cologne Alpine Day.
Dani, how do you like the name “Usain Bolt of the classical north faces in the Alps”?
Date8. October 2018 | 16:00
TagsDani Arnold, Eiger North Face, Grandes Jorasses, Huber brothers, Matterhorn North Face, Speed record, Ueli Steck, Walker Spur, Walkerpfeiler
I had a déjà vu. When I saw the pictures of the queue of people who climbed up towards the summit of the 8163-meter-high Manaslu this fall, I winced again. Just like in 2012, when Ralf Dujmovits, Germany’s most successful high-altitude mountaineer, photographed the queue of Everest summit candidates on the Lhotse flank. How the pictures resemble each other! No wonder, since Manaslu has turned more and more into “Fall’s Everest” in recent years: Several hundred mountaineers pitch up their tents in the base camp, the route is secured up to the summit with fixed ropes. And if the weather is fine, it’s getting narrow at the highest point.
Date6. October 2018 | 20:09
This much is certain, 2018 will go down in history as a very special year for ski mountaineers. After all, two of the “last” major ski problems on the world’s highest mountains have been solved. Last July, the Pole Andrzej Bargiel succeeded in the Karakoram in Pakistan – as reported – the first complete ski descent from the 8,611 meter high summit of K2, the second highest mountain in the world. And now Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison cracked another hard nut. On the 8516-meter-high Lhotse, the fourth highest of all mountains, the two Americans skied down the so-called “Dream Line”: from the summit through the narrow, 45 to 50 degrees steep Lhotse Couloir down to Camp 2 in the Western Qwm at 6,400 meters. “We did it,” Jim writes about a photo of his ski tips that he posted on Instagram today: “Ski tips about to make the first turn ever off the summit of Lhotse. Almost 28,000’ the summit was sugar snow and extra steep. A few careful turns and a hop got me into the couloir to complete a dream I’ve been working towards for a lifetime.”
Date4. October 2018 | 18:37
TagsAnnapurna, Anton Pugovkin, Dream Line, Hilaree Nelson, Jim Morrison, Lhotse, Lhotse Couloir, Ski descent, Vitaly Lazo