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Adventure Sports

with Stefan Nestler

David Lama’s “Mission: Possible”

David Lama

Considering his age of 23 years, David Lama has already faced a lot of criticism. “I have learned from my mistakes”, says the Austrian Climber. In 2010 his team had set dozens of new bolts for filming David’s attempt to free climb the legendary “Compressor Route” on Cerro Torre in Patagonia. Then Lama failed, but two years later he succeeded, together with his Austrian climbing mate Peter Ortner. For the summer of 2014 the two climbers are planning another “blockbuster”.

Impossible to climb?

Masherbrum (in the centre)

Lama and Ortner want to climb the East Face of the 7821-meter-high Masherbrum in the Karakoram for the first time. “Not many have actually tried to climb the wall, because most consider it as impossible”, David tells me at the International Mountain Summit in Brixen. “But meanwhile I can imagine to climb through this wall. This is currently one of the most exciting ideas.” Perhaps his compatriot Hansjoerg Auer would join the team, Lama reveals. When I met him a few days ago Reinhold Messner called these two Austrian climbers “young people who are creative”. They would find their playing fields.

Extremely cool


Currently the Karakoram is “one of the most exciting playgrounds” for him, David says. “Huge, beautiful, especially difficult mountains with big walls. I’m fascinated by them.” In 2012 Lama and Ortner climbed the 7665-meter-high, shapely Chogolisa, it was David’s first 7000er. “After 26 years we were the first climbers who reached the summit. It was an extremely cool experience to climb up to the summit ridge. Secondly, it was a kind of preparation for higher mountains because it’s my goal to climb big and difficult walls.” Like the East Face of Masherbrum .

Practice makes perfect

David Lama is the son of an Austrian mother and a Sherpa from Khumbu, the region around Mount Everest. At the age of five David proved his extraordinary talent at a climbing camp organized by Peter Habeler. That was the start of a successful career as a sport climber. At the age of ten Lama was climbing extremely difficult routes. Today, he sees himself “more as an alpinist,” says David, adding with a smile: “And also a little bit as a mountaineer.”

Everything under control

He is not a gambler, says Lama. However, he only turns back on a mountain if it is absolutely necessary. “I believe I have the ability to balance and evaluate the risk. But it is also clear that someone who has just taken his driving test will move faster than someone who has the licence for forty years.” Does he think about death? On Masherbrum, David answers, “one would like to have everything settled before climbing into the wall.”


7. November 2013 | 14:28