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with Stefan Nestler

Double fault stops Dujmovits on Everest

North side of Mount Everest

North side of Mount Everest

Ralf Dujmovits is annoyed. More about himself than about the fact that his dream to climb Mount Everest without bottled oxygen has disappeared. At 8300 meters, Germany’s most successful high-altitude climber decided not to start to the 8850-meter-high summit but to turn around. “I have performed badly”, says Ralf when he calls me by satellite phone from Camp 2 at 7700 meters. “I made a double fault.”

Too little flat surface

The first mistake was to send away the Sherpas of the team of the Swiss Kari Kobler, who had helped him before to prepare the platform for his tent. “I did not want to cause them any trouble and finished the work by myself”, says the 52-year-old. “After that I was really tired and thought: That must be enough! In my tent I had too little flat surface to place my stove.”

All wet

Ralf Dujmovits at Camp 2

Ralf Dujmovits at Camp 2

Mistake number two: Ralf was not able to melt enough snow. “I just got half a litre of water.” Because the wind was blowing with 50 kilometers per hour, a lot of white frost occurred on the inner side of his little, one-wall tent. The white frost melted and dripped. “It troubled me very much. Everywhere it dripped. My down jacket, my sleeping bag, my inner shoes, the lighter, everything was wet. I was no more able to light my stove.” Already on Saturday evening he decided to descend because it was impossible for him to recover sufficiently.

Wrong tent

It would have been better to take the larger tent from Camp 2, Ralf admits. “But it’s easy to be wise after the event. Actually, the small, lightweight, one-wall tent had proven its worth on Mount McKinley and Aconcagua. I did not think that so much white frost would occur inside.“ Today Ralf wants to descend to Advanced Base Camp at 6400 meters.

Health is the main thing

On the way down from the North Col

On the way down from the North Col

Between 1990 and 2009 Dujmovits had scaled all 14 eight-thousanders, as first and so far only German climber. Only in 1992 on Mount Everest, he had used bottled oxygen on the summit day. Ralf wanted to wipe out what he thought was a mistake. But now, after his fifth attempt that failed, he is fed up with it. “The subject Everest is finished for me”, says Ralf. “”It would have been great to be successful. But it was not to be. The main thing is that in all these years I have always returned healthy.” He is right.

P. S. On today’s Sunday some more climbers have reached the summit of Mount Everest, including the 72-year-old American Bill Burke and the only 13 years and eleven months old Indian girl Poorna Malavath, both with bottled oxygen. Malavath is the youngest girl that ever stood on the highest mountain in the world. The record as youngest climber is still held by the American Jordan Romero, who scaled Everest at the age of 13 years and ten months in 2010.


25. May 2014 | 13:27