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with Stefan Nestler

David Goettler: “Morale is tiptop!”

David Goettler in basecamp (©The North Face)

David Goettler in basecamp (©The North Face)

Do the winter climbers find Nanga Parbat a hard nut to crack? A Polish expedition is on the 8000er in Pakistan for eight weeks now, an Italian-German Team for over six weeks. In the past week the second summit attempts of both teams failed. Simone Moro and David Goettler reached Camp 3, but returned because of the bad weather. I sent some questions to David in basecamp. The 35-year-old climber from the town of Munich replied promptly:

David, the second summit attempt was also unsuccessful, you stopped at 6800 meters. How difficult was it for you to turn back again?

This time it was a little harder. Because the weather was not so bad when we decided to turn around. But we knew that it wouldn’t work, and thus it was definitely the right decision. Also because it was really very cold! When we were still descending, clouds came in and it began to snow. Up on the mountain we would have had problems to orient ourselves. And on the following day the strong wind would have thwarted any summit attempt. All in all we have saved valuable power and avoided frostbite.

What about Simone’s and your morale, after six weeks on the mountain and two failed attempts. Is there any risk of cabin fever?

The morale is still tiptop! No danger of cabin fever or something else – which does not mean that it is easy for me to wait. On the contrary, I think that is the most difficult part of an expedition.

The team led by Tomek Mackiewicz has been on the mountain even two weeks longer than you and Simone. What do you think, how long will your Polish friends stand it?

Perhaps they’re even more persistent. I think they are like us: Everyone here will be happy to get home again. But we all want to climb this mountain. Therefore we do accept waiting!

Staying as long in high altitudes saps your energy. How fit do you feel yet?

I still feel good and fit. The day before yesterday I made a training ascent to ABC (advanced basecamp) and back. It took me only 38 minutes to climb up and 15 minutes to come down. That feels good when you are spending so many days in BC (basecamp). Weather permitting, I am also doing my daily yoga exercises in BC. I think we can recover well because of the low altitude of our BC.

Evening in high camp (©The North Face)

Evening in high camp (©The North Face)

When are you planning your next summit attempt?

If I only knew! We must be patient, at the moment there is not good weather window in sight.

In your home a proverb is saying: “Three times is divine”. Are you hoping that this is also true for winter mountaineering at Nanga Parbat?

Of course! That would be the jackpot … but everything here is Inshallah.

Do you have to reach the summit to see this winter expedition as a success?

That’s why I came here. But I still know that our chance to get on top is very low. And I’m already more than satisfied!

Apart from K 2, Nanga Parbat is the only eight-thousander which has still not be climbed in winter. After your experiences on the mountain, do you now understand better why so many top climbers have already failed on Nanga Parbat?

I already knew that the rules in winter differ from those in summer. But sure, now, playing this game, I can understand it even better.


18. February 2014 | 21:14