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Adventure Sports

with Stefan Nestler

Happy New Year!

I wish you all an amazing, eventful and peaceful year 2019 – full of adventures, in the mountains or elsewhere. Live your dreams – and keep cool!

Date

31. December 2018 | 18:21

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40 years ago: Secret matter Cho Oyu Southeast Face

Edi Koblmüller on the summit of Cho Oyu in 1978

Only the spouses were in the know. The three Austrians Edi Koblmüller, Alois Furtner and Gerhard Haberl as well as the two Germans Herbert Spousta and Peter von Gizycki had agreed on strict secrecy. After all, the eight-thousander Cho Oyu was not open to climbers in Nepal in 1978. So the five climbers disguised themselves as trekking tourists and hiked to Gokyo. Their actual destination was a few kilometers behind: the 3,000-meter-high Southeast Face of the 8,188-meter-high Cho Oyu. “I was obsessed with this idea,” Alois Furtner, who reached the summit with Koblmüller on 27 October 1978, writes to me. The others turned around about 200 meters below the summit. “Friends of ours later called it a ‘century adventure’. Today I know that it was a very courageous undertaking,” recalls the now 70-year-old Furtner. “At that time I was so determined and focused that it had to happen. Just as a pregnant woman has to give birth to her child, I had to realize this plan in a similar way. And I succeeded.”

Date

30. December 2018 | 14:10

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Alexander Huber turns 50: “Cool to have such a sport”

Alexander Huber on Choktoi Ri

Still crazy after all these years. This title of a song by Paul Simon could also stand above the lives of many climbers – if they have survived their daring adventures into old age. Being a little crazy – and I mean that in a positive way – is just part of the game. Alexander Huber, the younger of the two Huber brothers, will celebrate his 50th birthday this Sunday.

The list of his successes is long. Thus Alexander opened several rock climbing routes in the eleventh degree, climbed (with his two years older brother Thomas, Toni Gutsch and the US-American Conrad Anker) for the first time through the West Face of the 7,108-meter-high Latok II in the Karakoram in 1997, stood one year later without bottled oxygen on the summit of the eight-thousander Cho Oyu or climbed free solo difficult routes in the Alps such as the “Hasse-Brandler-Diretissima” through the North Face of Cima Grande (in 2002) or the “Schweizerführe” at the 3,838-meter high Grand Capucin in the Montblanc region (in 2008). Last summer, Huber and his German climbing partner Fabian Buhl opened a new 2,200-meter-long route via the South Buttress of the 6,166-meter-high Choktoi Ri in the Karakoram (see video below).

Alexander lives with his wife and three children on a farm near Berchtesgaden. I called him a few days before his big birthday.

Alexander, you are about to turn 50. Is that a day like any other for you?

Date

28. December 2018 | 11:30

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Mountaineers at Mount Vinson are still stuck

The Vinson Massif

“Morale is waning, that’s clear,” Dominik Müller, head of the German expedition operator Amical alpin, tells me when I talk to him about the situation in Mount Vinson Base Camp. As reported, a total of 48 mountaineers, including a five-member Amical team, have been stuck there in bad weather for a week and a half now. Food is running out slowly but surely. “Our Christmas dinner was bizarre, sweet mashed potatoes with jam and cinnamon,” wrote Jürgen Landmann, one of the German climbers, on Facebook on Christmas Day. “We built a small chapel and a Christmas tree out of snow. We also took a group picture with all 48 mountaineers here in the base camp.”

Date

27. December 2018 | 15:33

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Merry Christmas!

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas. Enjoy the time with your loved ones!

Date

24. December 2018 | 15:09

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Whiteout at Mount Vinson

Mount Vinson

Christmas with the family beneath the Christmas tree – this might not happen for about 40 mountaineers in Antarctica. For about a week now, several teams have been stuck in the base camp at the foot of the 4,852-metre-high Mount Vinson, the highest mountain of the continent. Severe storm with speeds of around 100 kilometers per hour and heavy snowfall have been preventing aircrafts from taking off or landing there for days. “We rationed the food for one warm meal a day,” writes Manuel Möller, with whom I was on an expedition to the 7,129-meter-high Kokodak Dome in 2014, where we succeeded the first ascent. Manuel had actually wanted to be home again on 21 December: “We are now prepared for still spending Christmas here.”

Date

22. December 2018 | 19:38

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Their goal: Nanga Parbat in winter, on a new route

Daniele Nardi (l.) and Tom Ballard in Islamabad

Daniele Nardi can not keep his hands off Nanga Parbat yet. Already for the fifth time the 42-year-old climber from Italy tries his luck in winter on the 8125-meter-high mountain in Pakistan. Nardi and his 30-year-old British climbing partner Tom Ballard arrived in the capital Islamabad, from where they travel on to the north of the country. The team will also include Pakistani mountaineers Rahmat Ullah Baig and Kareem Hayat. Their goal: a new route to the eighth highest mountain on earth via the so-called “Mummery Rib”. In 1895, the British pioneer Albert Frederick Mummery had dared the first serious attempt on an eight-thousander via the rock spur in the Diamir Face. With the Gurkha Ragobir he had reached an altitude of 6,100 meters. Nardi tries this route for the second time: In winter 2013, he had climbed with the Frenchwoman Elisabeth Revol up to about 6,400 meters.

Date

21. December 2018 | 0:44

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“School up!”: Symbol of hope

If I could write a wish list for Christmas now, it would say: “Please don’t forget the children of Thulosirubari!” For two years now, the German aid organization “Nepalhilfe Beilngries” has been building the new school for more than 500 children and young people in the small mountain village about 70 kilometers east of the Nepalese capital Kathmandu. This was made possible by your donations for “School up!”, the aid project that I launched together with the professional mountaineers Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Ralf Dujmovits after the devastating earthquake in Nepal in 2015. The money we collect ends up in Thulosirubari and is used exclusively for the new construction.

Date

19. December 2018 | 17:21

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DLR hypoxia study: All symptoms disappeared after 30 hours

Nancy Hansen (r.) and Ralf Dujmovits at the DLR

“We were the mice for five weeks,” says Nancy Hansen describing the time she and Ralf Dujmovitsas reported – spent in a hypoxia chamber at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne half a year ago. The goal of the study was to find out whether, under certain circumstances, extreme hypoxia can lead to a strengthening of the heart in humans – as previously found out in two experiments with mice in the USA. After an acclimatization phase of around two weeks, the climbers had spent 16 days at a simulated altitude of 6,700 meters or higher, including four days at an oxygen content of only eight percent, which corresponds to 7,112 meters. “I suffered quite a lot,” admits Nancy. “But it was a big privilege to be part of the study.” Ralf is also still impressed by the experience: “I was hard on the edge. To be honest, I wouldn’t do it again. I underestimated the whole thing.” Last week the couple was in Cologne again – for one of several follow-up examinations. The first preliminary results of the study are now available.

Date

18. December 2018 | 12:18

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Luis Stitzinger turns 50: “I’ll try Everest again”

Luis Stitzinger on a mountain above his home town of Füssen

Without him, I couldn’t call myself a first ascender. Luis Stitzinger was the expedition leader of the German operator “Amical alpin” in summer 2014, who led us to maximum success on the 7,129 meter high Kokodak Dome in western China: All 16 team members reached the summit – not least thanks to Luis’ experience and circumspection. Stitzinger already stood on eight eight-thousanders: Cho Oyu (in 2000), Gasherbrum II (2006), Nanga Parbat (2008), Dhaulagiri (2009), Broad Peak (2011), Shishapangma (2013), Manaslu (2017) and Gasherbrum I (2018). He scaled them all without bottled oxygen, six of them together with his wife Alix von Melle.

This Sunday, Luis will celebrate his 50th birthday, “under palm trees on a sandy beach,” he tells me laughing. With Alix, he treats himself to a three-week holiday in the Greek climbing paradise of Leonidio: “I gave it to myself for my birthday.” I spoke to him before he left to Greece.

Luis, half a century old, doesn’t even an experienced mountaineer get a bit dizzy?

Date

15. December 2018 | 0:36

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Like the Little Prince to the top of Pumori

Zsolt Torok (r.) on Pumori

“The Little Prince climbed a high mountain”, wrote the French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in his world-famous story “The Little Prince”, published in 1943. “From a mountain as high as this one, he said to himself, I shall be able to see the whole planet at one glance, and all the people. But he saw nothing, save peaks of rock that were sharpened like needles.” Zsolt Torok, Teofil Vlad and Romeo (called “Romica”) Popa might have been less surprised when they stood on the 7,161-meter-high summit of Pumori last fall and saw nothing else but directly opposite the eight-thousanders Mount Everest and Lhotse as well as the seven-thousander Nuptse. The three climbers from Romania had just opened a new route through the Southeast Face in Alpine style – without the support of Sherpas, without bottled oxygen and without a chain of fixed high camps. They called it „Le Voyage du Petit Prince“ (The Little Prince‘s Journey). I asked Zsolt Torok why they chose this name.

Date

13. December 2018 | 12:34

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The “Snow Leopard” from Mount Everest

Ang Rita Sherpa with certificates of the Guinness Book of Records

Ang Rita Sherpa‘s Everest record could be one for eternity. The legendary climber from Nepal, who the locals reverently call “Snow Leopard”, is now 70 years old. No other climber has scaled the highest mountain on earth as often without bottled oxygen as Ang Rita did in the 1980s and 90s. “His record of nine will probably stand for a long time since current climbing Sherpas are required to use O2 by their companies,” Richard Salisbury from the “Himalayan Database” writes to me.

Date

7. December 2018 | 0:01

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Commercial Everest winter expedition postponed

Everest (l.) in the first daylight

In the coming winter there will be no commercial winter expedition to the highest mountain on earth after all. The Nepalese operator “Seven Summit Treks” (SST) postponed their Everest project by one year to winter 2019/2020. “We are personally busy this year”, board director Chhang Dawa Sherpa writes to me, adding that a strong SST team will accompany the Spaniard Alex Txikon on his upcoming winter expedition to K2 in Pakistan.

Date

5. December 2018 | 12:01

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Stricter regulations for expeditions on the Tibetan eight-thousanders

Tibetan north side of Mount Everest

The expedition operators in Nepal might have been so shocked that they dropped their pencils. In the “New Regulations for Foreign Expeditions 2019” in Tibet (available to me) it says under point 6: “In order to ensure the healthy and orderly development of mountaineering and minimize the occurrence of mountaineering accidents, mountaineering teams which were organized in Nepal temporarily will not be accepted.” As I have learned from a reliable source, a delegation from Nepal immediately traveled to China to have this regulation removed or at least weakened. Apparently the delegates of the Nepali operators were at least partially successful. Some agencies, however, are supposedly to receive no more approval. The Chinese and Tibetan Mountaineering Associations announced to cooperate in future only “with expedition companies with good social reputation, strong ability of team formation, logistic support, reliable service quality, excellent professional quality, and (who are) law-abiding”.

Date

4. December 2018 | 16:48

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