More DW Blogs DW.COM

Adventure Sports

with Stefan Nestler

Climbing for climate protection

Heidi Sand

Heidi Sand (© AthletenWerk/Bob Berger)

Heidi Sand knows how it is to accept a seemingly hopeless fight. “Since my cancer, I have a special relationship with probabilities and chances”, the 49-year-old German climber and sculptor write to me. “You have to believe in yourself and you should use any chance, no matter how small it is.” In 2010, Heidi was diagnosed with colon cancer at an advanced stage. She accepted the fight. Two years later, she climbed Mount Everest. In 2013, she summited Cho Oyu, her second eight-thousander. The following year, Sand and Billi Bierling were the first German women on top of Makalu. Now Heidi is committed to a climate protection project called “25zero”. During the upcoming climate summit in Paris, the Australian adventurer Tim Jarvis and his team want to point out the consequences of climate change for 25 still glaciated peaks at zero latitude, around the Equator. If nothing is done, says Jarvis, no ice or snow will remain on these mountains at the latest in 25 years – therefore “25zero”.

Six peaks on three continents

Mount Stanley

Mount Stanley

While a new climate change agreement will be debated in Paris starting next Monday, “25zero” teams will climb six mountains with melting glaciers in equatorial areas: Carstensz Pyramid (4,884 meters) in Indonesia, Mount Stanley (5,109 meters) in Uganda, Mount Kenya (5,199 meters), Mount Kilimanjaro (5,895 meters) in Tanzania, Chimborazo (6,268 meters) in Ecuador and Nevado del Tolima (5,215 meters) in Colombia. By sending live reports and pictures of these mountains, the adventurers want to show the decision-makers in Paris the already dramatic situation quite plainly. “I have decided to climb Mount Stanley, because the Rwenzori Mountains are particularly bad hit by climate change”, says Heidi. She will climb along with Tim Jarvis, the founder of “25zero”, and the Briton Ed Wardle. After his expedition with his Australian compatriot Peter Treseder in 1999, Jarvis was holding the world records for the fastest unsupported trip to the South Pole and for the longest unsupported Antarctica journey for a few years. Even after that, he made headlines with various expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctic. Wardle is a filmmaker and mountaineer who has scaled Everest already three times.

Glaciers in retreat

There is no more time to be lost, believes Heidi Sand. “When you’re for instance in Grindelwald in the Swiss Alps, you can see it quite clearly. 100 years ago, the great Grindelwald Glacier still ranged to the village. Today the glacier has melted so far that you must hike up six hours from the village”, says Heidi. “This year, the north faces in the Alps resembled south faces – hardly any ice or snow in the walls. So I had to postpone my next big project, the Eiger North Face, to next year.”


Again and again, climate conferences have failed in the past. There was nothing more than hot air at the end. What makes Heidi confident that these Paris negotiations might end otherwise? “If I did not believe in the success and did not have an optimistic attitude that enabled me to achieve my goals, I would not take part in ‘25zero’”, Heidi replies. “We all have the belief and optimism to do our part to a better world.”


25. November 2015 | 15:25