Adventure Sports Mountaineering, climbing, expeditions, adventures 2019-02-20T13:29:24Z Stefan <![CDATA[See you on “”!]]> 2019-02-20T13:29:24Z 2019-01-31T08:47:59Z

It all started with this picture on 1 April 2010

With a big tear in my eye I close my DW blog “Abenteuer Sport” today. After almost nine years (six years for the English version “Adventure Sports”) it’s over due to DW-internal decisions.

I would like to thank you very much! You climbers and other adventurers who have always been open to me in the past years. You loyal readers who motivated me to continue with your encouraging comments. And you donators for our aid project “School up!” who made the reconstruction of the school in Thulosirubari possible after the devastating earthquake in Nepal in 2015.

We haven’t yet reached the finish line in this small mountain village. This is one of the reasons why I have decided to continue to report in the same familiar way about what is happening on the highest mountains of the world – in my new, now completely private blog “Abenteuer Berg” (Adventure Mountain). I hope you feel well informed and entertained there too. Most likely I won’t be able to keep up with the number of blog posts I wrote for “Adventure Sports”. But I do my best. And in a modification of the old French formula the heralds used to proclaim the death of the king, I say: The blog is dead, long live the blog!

Stefan <![CDATA[Two Polish climbers flown out of K2 Base Camp]]> 2019-01-29T15:44:34Z 2019-01-29T14:21:39Z

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.

Two tracks on one route?

Climber from the Pivtsov team

Alex Txikon has now finally decided to make no attempt via the still unclimbed K2 East Face. The ascent through the wall was “impossible” because it was too dangerous, the 37-year-old said. The team had equipped their route to Camp 2 at 6,700 meters via the Abruzzi Spur, Alex’ team said. It is not clear to me why this was necessary. After all, the team from Kazakhstan, Russia and Kyrgyzstan, led by Vassiliy Pivtsov, had already secured this route before. “Near us, Sherpas are fixing ropes parallel,” Pivtsov’s team informed on Sunday. Is Txikon’s team trying to signal that they are climbing  independently of the other team? On the same route? If the cap fits, wear it. According to Pivtsov and Co., they reached an altitude of 6,800 meters today. Tomorrow they want to climb further up.

Tent disappeared

Camp 2 after snowfall

On Nanga Parbat Italian Daniele Nardi, Briton Tom Ballard and their Pakistani companions Rahmat Ullah Baig and Karim Hayat do not have to worry about a possible competitive situation. They are alone on the mountain. The recent heavy snowfalls – a meter and a half of fresh snow in three days – have set the team back in their efforts to open a new route via the striking Mummery Rib in the Diamir Face. After Nardi and Ballard reached again Camp 3 at 5,700 meters yesterday, they searched in vain for the tent they had left there on their last ascent. Today, Tuesday, they wanted to be back at base camp to discuss how to proceed.

Moro and Pemba Sherpa give up on Manaslu

Shovel for all you’re worth

Meanwhile, Simone Moro and his Nepalese partner Pemba Gyalje Sherpa have abandoned their winter expedition on the eight-thousander Manaslu and let themselves be flown out of the base camp by helicopter. “Over the last few days the aim of reaching my fifth summit in winter was transformed into surviving this situation,” Simone writes today on Facebook. It would take at least two or three weeks of sunshine for the six meters of fresh snow to settle, says the Italian adding that the weather forecast is anything but good. For Moro, it was a deja vu: Also in winter 2015, Moro had fled from the snow masses on Manaslu, at that time in a team with the South Tyrolean Tamara Lunger.

Stefan <![CDATA[Tima Deryan: Strong Arab woman heading for Everest]]> 2019-01-24T11:16:48Z 2019-01-24T09:37:08Z

Tima Deryan

She does not fit into the clichés that many people in the West have of Arab women. Fatima, called Tima, Deryan does not stand in the shadow of a man. She is cosmopolitan, self-confident and independent. She has founded a company in Dubai where she lives – and she is a mountaineer: Tima has already scaled five of the “Seven Summits”, the highest mountains of all continents. Mount Everest and Mount Vinson in the Antarctica are still missing from her collection.

On 23 March, the 26-year-old will fly to Nepal to climb the highest mountain on earth. On the trek to Everest Base Camp, Tima will certainly pay special attention to the yaks. In October 2017 on her way to Island Peak, she was attacked by a yak when she had just crossed a bridge over the Dudh Kosi between Phakding and Namche Bazaar. She was flipped over by the yak. The horns hit her at the thigh, Deryan was slightly injured.

Tima, how did you become a mountaineer?

On the summit of Aconcagua (in 2017)

I was born in Kuwait, my family moved to Lebanon when I was two years old and then moved to Dubai when I was nine years old. I‘ve been always into sports in general. During my teenage, I was into bodybuilding and then started bungy jumping by the age of 16. I then started my scuba diving and got my advanced PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) license, then I thought I should also get my skydiving license and I did.

In 2015 I attended a speech by Omar Samra, the first Egyptian man to climb Everest (in 2007) and I was reminded about my goal: I’ve always wanted to climb Everest ever since I was 14. I have visited Nepal five times and flew over Everest twice and I always said I will climb to the top of this mountain one day. So I took the first step to see if I like mountaineering or not and took off to climb Mount Elbrus in Russia. This was when I got hooked and my mountaineering journey started.

How would you describe your character?

I’m am a strong woman both physically and mentally. I love laughing and I enjoy the simple things in life. I‘m a minimalist, so to me it’s all about the experience rather than material. I have two jobs when I’m not on the mountain, one is in finance, the other is my own business which means I work hard for my money.

I‘m a loud person when I’m happy and I try to control it. I would consider myself between both an extrovert and introvert at this stage in life. Mind over matter is what I believe in. A positive, balanced and happy life is what I try to achieve all the time.

On the ladder across a crevasse (on Island Peak)

Which of your qualities do help you the most in the mountains?

Believing that I’m strong, being positive and laughing (especially when the altitude hits me) and of course now that its all about mind over matter which I actually tattooed on my hand as a reminder.

What does mountaineering mean to you today?

I honestly wish mountaineering is my job but this doesn’t work in my world. My dreams are big and I need to earn a lot to be able to achieve them. So now mountaineering for me is a run away from the standard city life and mainstream world. It‘s when I refill all my positive energy and boost my confidence. It‘s when I’m in peace with myself and I push all the limits happily. It‘s when I rebalance my thoughts and mentally heal. Mountaineering is literally my heaven on earth and happy place.

How do you prepare for Everest?

While rock climbing

Given that Everest has been a long time dream of mine, when I decided that I want to do it, I discovered that it takes about two months! As a newbie, I continued climbing for three years until I gained confidence and learned enough to take such a decision.

As for training, I do my strength training from 6am to 7am then I’m off to a long day at work. I come back and do my HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) in the evening.

I run ten kilometers one or two times a week, do indoor climbing two, three times a week and I’m always hiking over the weekend.

How do you finance the expedition?

I’m a minimalist, I live with my family so I really do not spend much of what I earn. Everything goes into mountains and trips. As for Everest, it is a launching event for my new company Yalla Cleaning (an online portal for cleaning industry). Part of my initiative is contributing to cleaning Everest, so currently working with the Nepalis on how I can help to bring the trash off the mountain through a system.

South side of Mount Everest

What are your expectations for Everest?

I think anyone wanting to climb a mountain would have the ultimate goal of reaching the top. For Everest, my ultimate goal is definitely reaching the top but I am very well aware that things might go against my expectations. The fact that I have the chance to spend around 50 days on the mountain, be there and live the experience, it is way too beautiful. But to top the cake with the cherry, it’ll be great to come back home with the summit! So I really do not have a lot of expectations besides – expecting the cold, stainless-steel ladders, Khumbu Icefall, crevasses, and the epic basecamp life!

A woman as a mountaineer – there are not many in the male-dominated Arab world. What resistance did you have to overcome?

I always say the Arab world is in a transition phase. It is true that it is male-dominated but women are rising up in all domains. Women in the Middle East are achieving the impossible whether it is in fitness, business, culture, music and entertainment.

Nepal, I’m coming

As I started my mountaineering journey, it was difficult to convince my family to travel alone knowing that I will be disconnected and they might not hear from me for a while. It was very hard for them to accept it but I managed to convince them. Otherwise, I did not really face a lot of difficulties kick-starting my passion.

As for society, I usually have a lot of respect from both men and women when they know what I go through to reach the peak. Just like in any other part of the world, some people think I’m too crazy and my future will be complicated. I don’t really bother explaining instead I climb more and prove them wrong. It’s all about action at the end of the day.

How do Arab men react to your mountain successes, how do Arab women?

Both Arab men and women react in a beautiful way towards my summit successes. It makes me so happy to hear “we are proud of you”. I must say, I do get challenged by some men when it comes to fitness so they can prove a point. I accept it for fun. Whether I lose or win doesn’t matter but I make sure my message goes through which is: Women are strong creatures with a high pain threshold.

Is there also a message that you want to give to Arab women by climbing Everest?

On expedition (to Denali)

Yes. Through my Everest climb I would like to demonstrate that an Arab woman is able to fight all sorts of limitations that society imposes upon her. She can earn her freedom only by action. If she wants something she must work really hard to get it! Being strong does not mean not being feminine enough. Being strong is way more attractive than being “soft”.

Arab women are still going through the phase of being independent and doing anything on there own. Most women still find it difficult to date to depend solely on themselves. So If I can climb Everest and depend on myself on the mountain then they can do anything. All it takes is courage and hard work.

I want Arab women to know that they are beautiful, they are strong and they can conquer the world. But only with the right mindset.

P.S.: By the way, the first Arab woman on Everest was the Palestinian Suzanne Al Houby, who reached the highest point at 8850 meters in spring 2011.

Stefan <![CDATA[Winter expeditions: Waiting for end of snowfall]]> 2019-01-22T14:45:45Z 2019-01-22T14:14:49Z

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.

“Best night of my eight winter expeditions”

Alex Txikon in front of his sleeping place

“In the dining tent we had temperatures of minus 13 degrees Celsius, in the normal tent minus 26 degrees, but in the igloo we slept at minus five degrees,” reported the 37-year-old. “I must say it was the best night of my eight winter expeditions. When you go from the dining tent to the igloo, all your muscles freeze, your hands get stiff and the wind blows in your face. But when you enter the igloo, silence returns, the sound of the wind disappears.” The team is considering building igloos in the Advanced Base Camp (ABC) too.

Even longer snowfall at Nanga Parbat

Daniele Nardi during the ascent

On K2, the second highest mountain on earth, snowfall is predicted at least until Wednesday morning local time, at Nanga Parbat possibly even until the weekend. There the Italian Daniele Nardi and the British Tom Ballard had reached an altitude of 6,200 meters last week in their attempt to completely climb through the so-called “Mummery Rib”, a striking rock spur in the Diamir Face, for the first time. “Well, what did you expect? It is winter on the ninth highest peak in the world. No picnic,“ Tom wrote on Facebook.

Crevasse stops Moro and Pemba

We can’t go on here

Also on the eight-thousander Manaslu in Nepal no other picture: “Snow, snow, snow …,” writes Simone Moro today from the base camp. “Hopefully it will stop soon, but as per the weather forecast by Karl Gabl (a well-known meteorologist from Austria) it will snow till 29th.” On Sunday, the 51-year-old Italian had let us known that he and his Nepalese climbing partner Pemba Gyalje Sherpa were forced to rest and think about a new plan because of the bad weather: “There’s maybe one way to avoid the problems we faced today.” The two had climbed up to 6,400 meters, but had then been stopped by a crevasse that, according to Simone, “can be overcome only with ladders (that we don’t have and in any case we would not use).”

Stefan <![CDATA[Rugby on Everest]]> 2019-01-17T15:27:18Z 2019-01-17T15:23:42Z

This is where the game is to be played

Mount Everest has long been an event venue. Thus in 2009, the Nepalese government moved a cabinet meeting to the base camp at the foot of Mount Everest to attract media attention. Also there the British DJ Paul Oakenfold gave a benefit concert in 2017. Last year a British star chef organized the “world’s highest dinner party” on the Tibetan north side of Everest: exclusive dining on the North Col at about 7,000 meters, with a white tablecloth, candlestick and champagne. And it goes on. Next spring, Everest will probably host the highest rugby match of all time.

Two Guinness book entries?

Ollie Philipps on a trekking in the Nepalese Everest region

Former and current British rugby stars Lee Mears, Ollie Phillips, Shane Williams and Tamara Taylor alongside 20 players are set to make two entries in the Guinness Book of Records: the highest game of full contact rugby and the highest game of touch rugby between mixed teams of women and men. Touch Rugby is the variant of the sport without hard body contact to keep the risk of injury low. The game is to be played near the Advance Base Camp (ABC), on a snow plateau at an altitude of 6,500 meters, located between the 7045-meter-high Lhakpa Ri and Everest. The organizers are still looking for some players.

Help for handicapped and disadvantaged children

More important than the records: The campaign is intended to flush money into the coffers of the aid organization “Wooden Spoon”, which supports disabled and disadvantaged children in Great Britain and Ireland. Mears and Phillips were already involved in the “Arctic Rugby Challenge” in 2015. At that time, a team had played rugby at the magnetic North Pole to raise money for “Wooden Spoon”.

Stefan <![CDATA[Shutdown stops Kobusch at Denali]]> 2019-01-17T15:46:43Z 2019-01-16T15:26:40Z

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.

“Government bullsh..”

Kobusch had planned to climb solo the 6,190-meter-high Denali, the highest mountain in North America, this winter. He had completed all the formalities – except for the visit to the Ranger station in Talkeetna. One and a half years preparation a dog’s breakfast. “It’s kind of a very big failure,” Jost told the Canadian TV station KTVA (see the video below). “It’s one thing if you are on a mountain and its windy and you are forced to return by storm. It’s another thing if you are forced to return because of some government bullshit.” In order not to have to travel home to Germany empty-handed, Kobusch at least wanted to climb the 3,773-meter-high mountain Kahiltna Queen in winter. But that didn’t happen either, the avalanche danger was too great. “I’ll come back next year,” Jost announced.

In 2015, Kobusch had become well known all over the world. The young German had shot a video of the giant avalanche – triggered by the devastating earthquake on 25 April 2015 – which had destroyed the base camp on the Nepali side of Mount Everest and had killed 19 people. In spring 2016, Kobusch scaled Annapurna, his first eight-thousander – without bottled oxygen. In fall 2017, Kobusch, climbing solo, succeeded the first ascent of the 7296-meter high Nangpai Gosum II in eastern Nepal. Last fall, Jost according to his own words opened a new route on the Carstensz Pyramid, with an altitude of 4,884 meters the highest mountain in Oceania. Denali should become his next solo attempt on one of the “Seven Summits”, the highest peaks of all continents. But Trump couldn’t care less about climbers. But who does he actually care about?

Stefan <![CDATA[Nanga Parbat: Nardi and Co. again in Camp 3]]> 2019-01-17T08:49:23Z 2019-01-15T20:03:40Z

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.

Second attempt

Position of Camp 3 below the distinctive Mummery Rib

Tom and Karim broke the trail, Daniele and Rahmat followed carrying heavy equipment, Nardi’s team wrote today on Facebook. “Today it was really hard to get from Camp 1 to Camp 3 with a 30kg backpack on our shoulders and the wind that was not helping us”, Daniele told by radio. “When we reached the tent, we found it submerged under snow. We worked hard to put things straight again.”

Nardi and Co. want to climb the complete Mummery Rib for the first time. In 1895, the British pioneer Albert Frederick Mummery had dared the first serious attempt on an eight-thousander via the distinctive 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.

K2 Base Camp reached

K2 team from Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

Meanwhile, the seven climbers of the K2 winter expedition from Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have set up their base camp at an altitude of around 5,200 meters at the foot of the world’s second highest mountain. After arriving there yesterday, four team members turned towards Advanced Base Camp today, but were unable to reach the spot due to bad weather.

Today the two Poles Marek Klonowski and Pawel Dunaj reached K2 Base Camp too, as the first climbers from the team of the Spaniard Alex Txikon. The majority of the members, including Txikon, are expected there on Wednesday. Waldemar Kowalewski,, the third Polish climber, will join the team in a few days. The 45-year-old has scaled three eight-thousanders so far: Mount Everest in 2014, Lhotse and Broad Peak in 2017. According to the chronicle “Himalayan Database”, he reached the 8,125-meter-high Subpeak of Manaslu in 2016.


Moro and Pemba Sherpa at Manaslu Base Camp

Base camp at the foot of Manaslu

The Italian Simone Moro and the Nepalese Pemba Gyalje Sherpa have moved to their base camp at the eight-thousander Manaslu in western Nepal. After having previously climbed the six-thousander Mera Peak in the Khumbu region to acclimatize, they yesterday were flown by helicopter from Kathmandu directly to the base camp at 4,800 meters. “Due to the snow porters cannot walk till here,“ Simone wrote on Facebook on Monday. “Weather conditions are good, definitely better than 2015. Of course, it’s a bit cold. Today it’s minus 25 degrees Celsius. Let this adventure begin!” In 2015, the 51-year-old and the South Tyrolean Tamara Lunger had failed on Manaslu due to the enormous snow masses of that winter.

Update 16 January: Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard climbed on the Mummery Rib up to 6,200 m and deposited equipment there. Alex Txikon and Co. have reached K2 Base Camp.

Stefan <![CDATA[In their husbands’ Everest footsteps]]> 2019-01-09T15:49:25Z 2019-01-09T15:49:25Z

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

Move to Kathmandu

During the ascent on Island Peak

When Everest’s fate struck, the two Sherpanis each worked in the small tea houses of their families: Furdiki in Dingboche, a small village in the Everest region at 4,340 meters, Nima Doma in Khumjung, further down the valley at 3,780 meters. Their income was too low to make ends meet for their children in the long run. Both moved to Kathmandu and started working as porters and later guides of trekking groups. Furdiki wanted to give her children greater opportunities for the future than she could finance herself. The 42-year-old found adoptive parents in the USA for her three daughters, who are now 14, 17 and 20 years old. Nima Doma has a ten-year-old son and an eight-year-old daughter. When the 34-year-old is on the road as a trekking guide, her mother looks after the children in Kathmandu.

On top of two six-thousanders

Nima Doma (l.) and Furtiki in the climbing wall

In order to prepare for their “Two Widow Expedition”, Nima Doma and Furdiki attended several climbing courses of the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA). Last November they scaled the 6,584-meter-high Chulu East in the Annapurna region and the 6,189-meter-high Island Peak in the Everest region, two popular trekking peaks. Is that enough experience for Everest? I asked the two Sherpani if they were not afraid that something might happen to them on the highest mountain on earth and that their children would then be orphans. “We are not afraid of the mountains because we believe we gain basic technic that is need in the mountains and well wishes from all the people who know us and our story,” replies Nima Doma Sherpa. “Every mother loves her children and so do we. But after the death of our husbands all the responsibility suddenly lay on our shoulders. We want to show our children that we can be independent. This will motivate them and make them proud.”

P.S. Nima Doma and Furdiki still need more money to finance their expedition. On 19 October, they will be hosting a fundraising dinner party in a hotel in Kathmandu. If you want to support the two Sherpani, you can also send them money online. Here is the link to their crowdfunding campaign.

Stefan <![CDATA[Winter expeditions are on]]> 2019-01-04T13:17:17Z 2019-01-04T13:06:43Z

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.

Also two Poles in Txikon’s K2 team

Alex Txikon meanwhile travelled with his Sherpa team to Islamabad. There he meets his Spanish climbing partner Felix Criado and other compatriots from the K2 expedition team – as well as the Poles Marek Klonowski and Pawel Dunaj. Both have participated several times in winter expeditions to Nanga Parbat. “We will certainly not play the first fiddle if we play the fiddle at all,” said Pawel in an interview with the Polish radio station “RMF 24”. “But we will try to support Alex as much as we can.”

Only seven climbers left in Pivtsov’s team

Pivtsov’s team in Islamabad

While Txikon’s team grew, the K2 winter expedition team from Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan shrank from eleven climbers – as originally planned – to seven, due to lack of money. Now the experienced Kazakh Vassily Pivtsov, who has already scaled all 14 eight-thousanders, will lead only six climbers: the Russians Artem Brown, Roman Abildaev and Konstantin Shepelev, the Kazakh Tursunali Aubakirov and Dmitry Muraviov and the Kyrgyz Mikhail Danichkin. The mountaineers from the former CIS states are on their way to Northern Pakistan.

Nardi and Ballard in Camp 1

Daniele Nardi on Nanga Parbat

Still in the old year the Italian Daniele Nardi and the Brit Tom Ballard arrived in the base camp at the foot of Nanga Parbat. As reported, they want to climb together with the two Pakistani Rahmat Ullah Baig and Kareem Hayat the 8125-meter-high mountain on a new route via the Mummery Rib in the Diamir Face, which has not yet been mastered. They already reached Camp 1 at 4,700 meters.




Stefan <![CDATA[Happy New Year!]]> 2018-12-31T17:21:22Z 2018-12-31T17:21:22Z 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!

Stefan <![CDATA[40 years ago: Secret matter Cho Oyu Southeast Face]]> 2018-12-30T13:10:04Z 2018-12-30T13:10:04Z

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.”

Sleeping in snow caves

In the Southeast Face

A picture of the upper part of the wall in a book by Reinhold Messner had inspired the quintet. The mountaineers had no more information. First, they carried about 250 kilograms of equipment from Gokyo to the base camp at 5,100 meters. Koblmüller, Furtner and von Gizycki ascended to an altitude of 6,700 meters at the foot of the summit wall. There they deposited a tent with equipment and descended again. On 22 October the five mountaineers started their summit attempt. They climbed in “pure Alpine style”, Furtner says. “We had no Sherpas on the mountain, no supplies, no bottled oxygen, no communication with the outside world, we were completely on our own. There was also no doctor. We were not allowed to make any mistakes,” says Alois. “Food, petrol, fixed ropes were reduced to a minimum. We only used tents in the lower part of the wall. In the summit wall we dug out snow caves to reduce weight.”

Like Brocken spectres

The summit wall demanded everything from climbers. Their route led over an ice pillar in the middle of the wall, which was up to 70 degrees steep. In the morning of the summit day the thermometer showed minus 40 degrees Celsius. Haberl got frostbite at his fingertips, which finally cost him the summit. Furtner and Koblmüller reached the highest point shortly before sunset. “We both knew that we had achieved something great,” recalls Alois. “I had four turquoise stones around my neck. I pressed one of them into the snow of the ‘Turquoise Goddess’ (that’s the translation of Cho Oyu) at the summit in return for good luck. I remember one thing – it was mythical: The setting sun enlarged our shadows and threw them onto the wall of fog in the direction of Everest, it was like Brocken spectres.”

Five years entry ban

Nepalese side of Cho Oyu (Southeast Face on the right)

The descent turned into a race against time. At 6,600 meters the five mountaineers were snowed in. Two nights and a complete day they crowded together in a tent, food was running out. The quintet digged their way down to the valley through partly breast-high snow and finally reached the base camp on 1 November, ten days after setting off for their summit push. One day later they were back in Gokyo. Because they had climbed Cho Oyu without a permit, the Nepalese authorities punished the climbers with a five-year travel ban. “At that time our ascent virtually disappeared,” reports Furtner. “In the same year, Messner and Habeler climbed Everest without bottled oxygen – that was the world sensation.”

“The adventure of my life”

Alois Furtner

To date, the route via the Southeast Face of Cho Oyu, completed by Furtner and Koblmüller (who froze to death in a snowstorm in Georgia in 2015), has not been repeated. That actually says it all about its degree of difficulty. “Looking back, I’m still deeply moved by how we climbed the wall back then. There were so many obstacles on the way to the summit and also on our way back. And yet we all arrived at the base camp relatively unharmed,” says Alois Furtner. “It was the adventure of my life, and the summit picture was the photo of my life.”

The Cho Oyu pioneer takes a critical view of today’s Himalayan mountaineering. “Gokyo becomes a Zermatt in the Himalayas, the peaks are climbed in hundreds and the ascents are broadcasted live. I lean back calmly and think of our happy ascent with a feeling of well-being,” says Alois. “I am also very pleased that Reinhold Messner, in his Cho Oyu book, classifies our ascent as a ‘milestone in climbing great Himalayan walls’. I accept this compliment gratefully.”

P.S.: Yes, yes, I know, the anniversary was two months ago – but 40 years ago is still true. 😉

Stefan <![CDATA[Alexander Huber turns 50: “Cool to have such a sport”]]> 2018-12-28T10:30:26Z 2018-12-28T10:30:26Z

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?

Alexander at the trade fair “Outdoor” in 2017

It’s certainly not a day like any other, because I’m well aware that another decade has passed. But it won’t be a special birthday for me, I already know the feeling from my previous big birthdays.

If you compare yourself today with Alexander, who was 25 years old, do you still recognize yourself?

I still absolutely recognize myself as I was then. You go your own way in life. There are many things that change, some things remain the same. Maybe I’d like to be 25 again, but my sense of reality tells me that it won’t happen that way. And it’s not like everything was better at the age of 25. There are also things that are better at 50.

Have your priorities changed?

The priorities are constantly changing. This is a completely normal process in life. It would be a miracle if it wasn’t so.

Have you become more cautious?

Yes, in the sense that I no longer do the wild actions like at the age of 25 or 35. That also has a lot to do with my sense of reality. I know that I pulled things off at a level I don’t have anymore. That means I can’t top the things I’ve already realized anyway. And that’s why I just take it easier and do the things that are possible for me.

Last summer you opened with Fabian Buhl a new route via the South Buttress of the six-thousander Choktoi Ri. How good did it feel – after some failed expeditions in the Karakoram?

Such a success always feels good. It’s fun to reach the summit. That’s the reason why you set off at all. But it is quite normal in the life of a climber that there are actions that don’t lead to success. Especially on larger expeditions, I have a success rate that is well below 50 percent. If you can’t cope with that, you have no business going to these mountains with ambitious goals. If anybody claims to be a “Mister 100 Percent Success”, I can only say: Well, then he never really tried to push himself to the limit. I prefer to keep pushing my limits and taking a setback from time to time instead of trying things that are easy to get.

But on Choktoi Ri, it ran smoothly for you.

Yes, although we had a difficult season due to the meteorological conditions. Also in the Karakoram you notice the impact of global warming. There was a lot of bad weather this year. But in terms of tactics we performed extremely well, so that in the end the result was success. Only a single wrong tactical decision would have meant that we would not have made it. We did well, but also had the bit of luck that you need.

Fabian is 28 years old, more than 20 years younger than you. Were you already a little bit in the role of the mentor, who passes on his experience?

With Fabian Buhl on top of Choktoi Ri

Sure, that’s the role you automatically take on. Of course I am a mentor of Fabian. But in the end I was looking for a competent climbing partner for my idea. One of Fabian’s strong points is that he is incredibly motivated, has incredible fun while climbing and is not afraid of anything, he really enjoys every effort. That’s exactly the kind of partner you need on a mountain. This is the only way it can work.

Was it perhaps also a model for you for the next few years to be en route in a team of only two?

I’ve done that before, so it’s not a new model for me. In principle, I prefer to be on the road in a team as small as possible. But it also depends on the goal. To tackle, for example, Latok II in a team of two, would almost mean to ignore the danger of the mountain. If something happens, you have only a minimum safety reserve.

Is there a highlight in your climbing career that stands out and that you particularly like to remember?

I am happy that I was able to set my highlights in very different fields of climbing and that I have always kept alpinism alive and interesting for me. It all started for me on top level with alpine sport climbing. Today I can’t imagine being a sports climber with the same enthusiasm again, it would probably have become much too boring for me. But if you look at what alpinism is all about – be it in Antarctica, Patagonia, the Yosemite Valley, the Dolomites, doing speed climbing, free solo climbing, difficult alpine routes, expeditions, eight-thousander, sports climbing in the eleventh-degree – then all you can say is: Cool to have such a sport that can be interesting on top level even after thirty years.

Extreme climbing, here in Mount Asgard on Baffin Island

Let’s look ahead, what goals do you still set yourself as a climber?

I only set myself medium-term goals. In the long run I can only say: I want to be happy with what I do. But what exactly will that be? I don’t know. It will happen. I am lucky to have come through my climbing almost injury-free. I’m still healthy, nothing hurts me, and that’s why I continue to go to the mountains. But of course it can look completely different from one day to the next.

Is there already a concrete project for 2019?

The only thing I know for sure is that I will not go on expedition. I still want to climb various routes here at home in the Alps. But the concrete project for 2019 is not to travel to the Himalayas or the Karakoram.

And how will you spend your birthday?

Like every year. I’ll celebrate my birthday with my friends.

Stefan <![CDATA[Mountaineers at Mount Vinson are still stuck]]> 2018-12-30T13:28:46Z 2018-12-27T14:33:47Z

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.”

No information about emergency plans

Vinson Base Camp in good weather

After all, an Ilyushin cargo plane was able to fly from Punta Arenas in southern Chile to Union Glacier Camp on the edge of Antarctica. However, the bad weather at Mount Vinson prevents airplanes from taking off and landing at the base camp. “We have been eating only one warm meal a day from rations of which the expiration date passed a year ago,” wrote Manuel Möller from the Amical team on Christmas Eve. “ALE (Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions – the US company that organizes the flights to and from Antarctica) apparently has no Plan B. And the atmosphere here in the camp is slowly getting more nervous.” It is unlikely to have improved over the holidays – especially as the meteorologists are predicting snowfall at Mount Vinson for the coming days. So the adjourned game continues. “Our expedition leader Willi Comploi says we’ll have to come up with something soon if the team can’t be taken out in the next few days,” says Dominik Müller, who, in his own words, tried several times in vain to get information from ALE about possible emergency plans.

O’Brady succeeds in solo crossing Antarctica

O’Brady at his destination

Meanwhile the US adventurer Colin O’Brady has successfully completed his solo crossing of Antarctica over a distance of almost 1500 kilometres, without any support. “Day 54: Finish line!!! I did it,” the 33-year-old wrote on Instagram and posted a picture which, according to him, showed him on the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf. Almost two months ago, O’Brady had started with his sled from Union Glacier – at the same time as British Louis Rudd, who is expected at the finish line in a day or two. The first unsupported solo crossing of Antarctica had been achieved by Norwegian Borge Ousland at the beginning of 1997. He had overcome a distance of 2845 kilometers (!), also using a kite to move faster.

Union Glacier Camp

Update 28 December: Breathe a sigh of relief! The climbers who were stuck for a week and a half at Mount Vinson could be flown out to the research station at Union Glacier. “The atmosphere is correspondingly cheerful,” writes Manuel Möller from the Amical alpin team to me.

Update 29 December: On Friday Lou Rudd completed his solo crossing too.

Stefan <![CDATA[Merry Christmas!]]> 2018-12-24T14:09:09Z 2018-12-24T14:09:09Z I wish you all a wonderful Christmas. Enjoy the time with your loved ones!

Stefan <![CDATA[Whiteout at Mount Vinson]]> 2018-12-22T18:38:06Z 2018-12-22T18:38:06Z

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.”

Turned around 150 meters below the summit

The Vinson Massif

Jürgen Landmann, who like Manuel belongs to the five-member team of the German expedition operator Amical alpin, writes on Facebook about a possible “mini good weather window” on 27 December: “Let’s hope that we get away from here then!” According to him, the team had to turn around 150 meters below the highest point during their summit attempt. One of the climbers suffered frostbite on her nose and cheek during the ascent, Manuel adds, “but things are looking better again”.  The team had good weather only on two out of ten days on the mountain, he says.

Mood in base camp still calm

“The season here is completely crazy,” writes Manuel. “The rangers said they’d never seen so much bad weather before. Yesterday there was 15 centimeters of fresh snow. Normally it snows here one centimeter a year.” The atmosphere in the base camp is calm despite the delay, says Manuel, adding that there is enough food for another two weeks, and petrol is still available too. “So there is no immediate danger of starving or dying of thirst,” reassures Manuel. “Nevertheless it is somehow stupid, since it is not foreseeable when the conditions will improve.” So keep your fingers crossed!