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with Stefan Nestler

Dujmovits: “I want to make it for myself”

Ralf Dujmovits at the ISPO

Ralf Dujmovits at the ISPO

His bookmark is still in the book of Everest. Ralf Dujmovits scaled all 14 eight-thousanders, as the only German so far. Only on Mount Everest in 1992, Ralf used bottled oxygen – something that the 53-year-old sees as a blemish by today. This spring, Ralf wants to travel to the highest mountain in the world for the already seventh time, for the fourth time to the Tibetan north side. Last year Dujmovits reached there an altitude of 8,300 meters on the northeast ridge. At that time he got angry about his own mistakes. And so Ralf’s repeatedly announced “definitely last” attempt on Everest became once again just his most recent try. This year, he wants to climb in a team with the Canadian Nancy Hansen. I met Ralf at the trade fair ISPO in Munich and asked him about his Everest plans:

Ralf and Mount Everest, a never ending story?

Not endless. Last year I said, it would be definitely my last attempt. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it, because I just didn’t feel that I had been given a real chance. Now I want to allow myself another chance, hoping that I can do my very best and that I am not blown away by the wind. If I have to turn around again then, it would be a totally different story. But at least I want to set off towards the summit and to do my utmost.

Camp 1 on Everest North Col

Camp 1 on Everest North Col

It seems to me that you created a new definition of “definitely”. Do you avoid the wording “my definitely last attempt” this time?

I learned that one should never say never. I don’t want to say “definitely no more” this time. I am so motivated at the moment. And I feel that I got so fit by intensive training that I simply don’t want to exclude anything, even in the event of failure. But of course, you become more reserved and cautious. I think that’s right. It all must fit together if you make for such a high destination and if you want to have a real chance there.

To put it in positive terms, you are in your early fifties, in less positive words, you approach your mid fifties. Has it become more difficult for you to prepare for such an extreme project?

I am still very motivated and don’t have any problem to train. I realize that I have to concentrate on training, not doing too many other things. I just returned  from Antarctica (Ralf led a commercial expedition to Mount Vinson, the highest mountain of the white continent). That was fairly intense mountain sports. But nonetheless it was not as intensive as a good training. After four weeks, doing almost nothing in Antarctica, I have a real training deficit. In this respect, I have to continue my efforts consistently in order to reach the level of fitness that I should have for Everest. And I will only set off again if I have the feeling that everything matches.

Do you feel that you turn around much faster now than before?

Maybe I love life more than before. Getting older, I also appreciate all the beautiful things besides mountaineering. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone anymore, but I just want to make it for myself. Probably I really turn around easier because I don’t feel any pressure. I want to make it for myself, but also want to return safely. So that I can simply be much more reserved.

Ralf at Everest high camp (in 2014)

Ralf at Everest high camp (in 2014)

You climbed on Everest from both sides, on different routes, in many attempts. What do you plan this time?

First I will take enough time to get used to high altitude, then I will set off well acclimatized towards the summit. I have not yet decided which route I will finally take, after we will have acclimatized on the north ridge. It depends on the conditions and on how we feel. I do not want to say much in advance. I think, if I feel good, I can also take a different route than the northeast ridge, which is exposed to wind on an endless distance. But I will decide at the very end.

Do you expect more climbers on the Tibetan north side of Everest this spring due to last year’s events on the Nepalese south side?

I have been following intensively which commercial operators really switched to the north side. Actually, it is only Alpenglow, an operator that had mostly very small groups in recent years. I think there will be some more climbers than normal. But it will certainly not be the big hype as it was on the north side in earlier days. For the simple reason that it still remains uncertain, especially for Americans, to get a permit for China.

But you have no problems with the Chinese?

I have no problems because I go there only for mountaineering and afterwards push off. There are other things that can be discussed. But I don’t want to mix mountaineering with something different.


9. February 2015 | 22:03