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with Stefan Nestler

Two Polish climbers flown out of K2 Base Camp

Alex Txikon on the Abruzzi route

What bad luck! Only with delay Waldemar Kowalewski from Poland – as reported – had joined the team of the Spaniard Alex Txikon. And now the K2 winter expedition has already ended for the 45-year-old. Kowalewski had been hit by a stone or a block of ice on his left collarbone on his descent from Camp 1 at about 6,100 meters to the Advanced Base Camp. “He had to go down at a slow pace but he feels calmer now at Base Camp,” Txikon’s team announced after the incident. Waldemar was flown out to Skardu today. Then the rescue helicopter picked up another Pole from Txikon’s team: Marek Klonowski had heart problems and could therefore no longer stay in the base camp at the foot of the second highest mountain in the world. He hopes to be able to return in about ten days.

Date

29. January 2019 | 15:21

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Winter expeditions: Waiting for end of snowfall

Igloos in K2 Base Camp

Bad weather forces the climbers of the winter expeditions on the eight-thousanders K2 and Nanga Parbat in Pakistan and on Manaslu in Nepal to inactivity. The team from Kazakhstan, Russia and Kyrgyzstan led by Vassiliy Pivtsov returned to K2 Base Camp yesterday after the seven climbers, according to their own words, had fixed ropes on the classical Abruzzi route up to an altitude of 6,300 meters. The Spaniard Alex Txikon’s team has not yet ascended, but built in the base camp three igloos, in which a total of ten to 14 people can sleep. Alex was thrilled after his first igloo night.

Date

22. January 2019 | 15:14

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Shutdown stops Kobusch at Denali

Jost Kobusch in Alaska

US President Donald Trump has also slowed down Jost Kobusch with his shutdown of the federal administration. The German climber was suddenly standing in front of a locked door in Talkeetna in Alaska. Jost read on a sign behind the glass pane that the rangers’ office was closed “due to the lapse in funding of the federal government budget”. The Denali National Park administration sent an email to the 26-year-old informing him that he would probably not receive any more news due to the shutdown for the time being. “Just watch the news,” he was recommended.

Date

16. January 2019 | 16:26

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Nanga Parbat: Nardi and Co. again in Camp 3

Daniele Nardi in Camp 3

While the winter expedition teams at the eight-thousanders K2 and Manaslu have only just moved into their base camps, the Italian Daniele Nardi and his three companions on Nanga Parbat are in a more advanced phase. Today Daniele, the Brit Tom Ballard and the two Pakistani mountaineers Rahmat Ullah Baig and Karim Hayat ascended again to Camp 3 at 5,700 meters, directly below the Mummery Rib. Five days ago, the four climbers had deposited a tent there and then returned to base camp.

Date

15. January 2019 | 21:03

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In their husbands’ Everest footsteps

Furdiki Sherpa (l.) and Nima Doma Sherpa (r.)

Mount Everest took their husbands. And the fathers of their children. Nevertheless, Nima Doma Sherpa and Furdiki Sherpa want to climb the highest mountain on earth this spring. “We are doing our expedition for the respect of our late husbands because they were mountaineers too,” Nima Doma replies to my question about the purpose of their project. “And we want to motivate all the widows.” Everest has left a lot of single mothers behind. According to the mountaineering chronicle “Himalayan Database”, 37 Sherpas have died there in the past 20 years alone. Furdiki’s husband, Mingma Sherpa, belonged to the so-called “Icefall Doctors” who set up and secure the route through the Khumbu Icefall every year. The 44-year-old died in a fall into a crevasse on 7 April 2013. One year later, on 18 April 2014, Nima Doma Sherpa’s husband, Tshering Wangchu Sherpa, was one of the 16 Nepalese victims of the major avalanche accident in the Icefall

Date

9. January 2019 | 16:49

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Winter expeditions are on

Alex Txikon (l.) and Simone Moro in Lhukla

Several winter expeditions in the Himalayas and Karakoram started in the first days of the year. Two of the three climbers who had succeeded the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat in 2016 met in Lhukla in Nepal, however now with different goals: The Spaniard Alex Txikon wants to tackle K2 in Pakistan, the last remaining eight-thousander to be climbed for the first time in the cold season, the Italian Simone Moro is drawn to Manaslu again. The 51-year-old and the South Tyrolean Tamara Lunger had failed on the 8167-meter-high mountain in western Nepal in 2015 because of the enormous snow masses of that winter. This year, according to the Kathmandu-based newspaper “The Himalayan Times”, Moro plans to climb with the Nepalese Pemba Gyalje Sherpa on the normal route without bottled oxygen. In order to acclimatize, they wanted to climb the 6,476-meter-high Mera Peak in the Khumbu region.

Date

4. January 2019 | 14:06

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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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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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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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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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Alex Txikon will also head for K2 in winter

Alex Txikon in Bilbao

After all. The Spaniard Alex Txikon will tackle K2 in the upcoming winter. The 35-year-old announced this at a press conference in Bilbao today. He will travel to Pakistan on 2 January with his compatriot Felix Criado, with the goal of scaling the second highest mountain on earth for the first time in the cold season. It had already become known that the Pakistani government had granted Txikon a climbing permit for K2. However, the Basque had left it open to this day whether he would actually use the permit.

Date

29. November 2018 | 23:20

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David Lama after his solo first ascent of Lunag Ri: “Most intense time”

The last meters to the summit of Lunag Ri (picture taken by a drone)

“I traverse the last few metres over wind packed snow that sticks to the granite on the Nepalese side of the mountain. Even though my head is full with the impressions that I absorb every moment up here, my thoughts are somehow empty. The knowledge that I must not make any mistake is constantly present and dominates all other feelings. It results in an intense, almost exhausting concentration – a feeling I know only from other solo ascents in the mountains,” Austrian top climber David Lama writes on his website about the moment when the 28-year-old was the first to set his foot on the summit of the 6,907-metre-high Lunag Ri about a month ago (see video below). 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. “Having arrived at the very front of the summit spur, I stand still. It feels strange that suddenly I have no more further to go. I sink down to my knees, tired and happy, even though I wouldn’t be able to express it that way right now. Briefly I think about Conrad. He is the only one I would have liked to share this moment with.”

Date

27. November 2018 | 13:06

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Hidden heroes of mountaineering in Pakistan

Three times K2 without breathing mask: Fazal Ali

Sorry, Fazal Ali – that your extraordinary performance on K2 just slipped past me last summer! I reported on the first ski descent from the second highest mountain in the world by the Pole Andrzej Bargiel. I also noticed that Muhammad Ali “Sadpara”, the Pakistani winter first ascender of Nanga Parbat, completed his collection of the five eight-thousanders of his home country on K2 – and that it was a record season on “Chogori”, as you locals call the mountain. But I missed the news that you, Fazal, were the first mountaineer in the world to reach the 8,611-meter-high summit of the “King of the Eight-thousanders” for the third time after 2014 and 2017 without bottled oxygen. All the deeper I now take my hat off!

Date

21. November 2018 | 15:54

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