More DW Blogs DW.COM

Adventure Sports

with Stefan Nestler

In the hunt for big walls on 7000ers

Hansjoerg Auer during the IMS in Brixen

Hansjoerg Auer likes to use the word “brutal”. But only when he is telling of something that inspires him. “It’s just a brutal beautiful mountain and a brutal cool goal,” says the top climber from Austria about Kunyang Chhish East. The 7400-meter-high mountain is located in the Karakoram in Pakistan. Hansjoerg has climbed the side peak of Kunyang Chhish (7852 meters) last summer together with his brother Matthias and Swiss Simon Anthamatten. “You rarely find this combination: a 7000er, unclimbed, with a cool wall such as the nearly 3000-meter-high South Face”, says the 29-year-old climber. “I am thrilled by exactly these expeditions with as many question marks as possible. They are interesting and remain exciting.”

Brothers on the summit

The trio reached the previously unclimbed summit over an extremely challenging route through the South Face. In 2006 the US top climbers Steve House and Vince Anderson (who had climbed the Rupal Face on Nanga Parbat firstly in Alpine style in 2005) had to return on Kunyang Chhish East some 300 meters below the summit. Auer is particularly pleased that he was able to celebrate the success together with his brother. Matthias is living “more in the midst of life, with family and home. That’s why it was certainly one of his last major mountain projects”, says Hansjoerg. “I really liked that we reached the top together.”

Repressing bad news

Just below the summit of Kunyang Chhish East

The Auer brothers and Anthamatten dedicated their summit success to the eleven victims of the terrorist attack on Nanga Parbat, about 120 kilometers away. The news had reached them in basecamp during their period of acclimatization. “You cannot imagine something like that. If you’re just staying in basecamp yourself, thinking that these guys come and shoot you, that’s really incredible!”, Hansjoerg recalls. “But we started climbing and repressed the bad news as well as possible.” It’s out of the question for Auer to stay away from Pakistan. “You cannot say we will travel no longer to Pakistan. I hope that was a one-time incident.” Mountaineers were not giving the reasons for the attack, says Hansjoerg. “There must be a more hidden problem that has to be solved now.”
Auer will most likely return to the Karakoram in 2014. His destination: another 7000er, an unclimbed, technically difficult wall. Hansjoerg doesn’t reveal more details. Maybe he is talking about the Masherbrum East Face. Recently David Lama had indicated to me that his compatriot would possibly join his team for Masherbrum.

In a league of their own

The big walls on 8000ers are no issues for Auer. Not yet. These walls, says Hansjoerg, are “in a league of their own. You have to gain a lot of experience on 7000ers before you can climb cool routes on 8000ers. In very high altitude especially the mental challenge is extreme”, says Auer. “What Ueli Steck has just done on Annapurna, climbing solo through the South Face, was extremely good. The biggest backup you have as a climber is usually your teammate. But there is no companion if you do a solo climb. You’re so exposed up there, without any help. You have to work through this and to deliver full performance.” And once again Hansjoerg uses his favorite word: “That means brutal commitment. You have to do your very best.”


15. November 2013 | 17:11