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with Stefan Nestler

The tireless weatherman

Charly Gabl

Charly Gabl

“I’m retired, but not tired or unhappy”, says Karl, called “Charly” Gabl. “You should not slow down from hundred to one. As on the road, that would be fatal.” Four years ago, the Austrian meteorologist retired, but the 68-year-old weatherman is still advising many professional climbers during their expeditions in the Himalayas or Karakoram. “I’m doing this voluntarily. For example last summer, I advised the Huber brothers on Latok I where they did not succeed due to the warm weather and were almost killed by an ice avalanche”, Gabl told me when I met him at the Alpine Trade Fair in Innsbruck last weekend.

“No one is immune from stumbling”

The Austrian team led by Hansjoerg Auer that first climbed the South Face of the 6,839-meter-high Nilgiri South in the Annapurna massif at the end of October, had previously seeked advice from Charly too. On the descent – as reported – Gerry Fiegl, obviously suffering vom altitude sickness, lost his balance and fell to death. The weather was not to blame for the accident, says Gabl: “There was no precipitation, it was sunny, even though there was a strong wind. But stumbling is always possible.” Charly cites the example of a mountain guide colleague who fell to death on Annapurna Fang, a secondary peak of the eight-thousander, because his crampons entangled in his gaiters.“No one is immune from stumbling. This is one of the the biggest dangers in the mountains”, says Gabl.

Most accidents while hiking

The Tirolyan should know. For ten years now, he has been president of the “Austrian Council for Alpine Safety”. More and more people are killed in mountain accidents in the Alps. This is mainly due to the fact that so many people are going to the mountains, Gabl explains, adding that their number has finally increased tenfold since the 1950s. “Most of the dead are hikers, half of them dying after heart attacks. But it is precisely the hikers who are predestined to slip or stumble.”

Travel to Nepal!

Summit of Sarbibung (centre)

Summit of Sarbibung (centre)

Why do professional climbers still contact him to get weather forecasts? “Because I am a high altitude climber too and know what the point is”, says Charly Gabl. In 1970, he skied down Noshaq (7,492 m), the highest mountain in Afghanistan, for the first time ever. “I have scaled almost 50 summits higher than 5,000 meters so far”, says the famous weatherman. Three years ago, he, aged 65, climbed to the top of Putha Hiunchuli (called Dhaulagiri VII too, 7,246 m) in Nepal (where, incidentally, I myself had to turn around in 2011, about a hundred meters below the summit). Just recently, Charly was back in Nepal again and reached the highest point of Saribung Peak (6,328 m), during a trek through the ancient kingdom of Mustang. “What a beautiful summit”, Charly enthuses about his trip to Nepal. Despite the devastating earthquake six months ago, the infrastructure was working properly, says Charlie. Everything was well organized. “I can only say: Guys, travel to Nepal! During these 18 days, I and my wife ensured jobs for ten people. This is very important.”


12. November 2015 | 9:36