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Adventure Sports

with Stefan Nestler


Cho Oyu (seen from Gokyo Ri)

Cho Oyu (seen from Gokyo Ri)

The world tends to gasping. It is caught somewhere between Snapchat, snapshot and a 140-character Twitter message – and it jumps onto every train, the main thing is, it’s running. The moments of leisure fall by the wayside. In the not too distant future, we will probably wonder how an expedition to an eight-thousander could ever last for two months. The American climbers Adrian Ballinger and Emily Harrington have reached their goal: Just two weeks after they set off from their house at Lake Tahoe in California, they opened the door again – in their baggage a successful climb of the eight-thousander Cho Oyu. Nine days after their departure, Adrian and Emily stood on the 8188-meter-high summit in Tibet. Then they skied down. Time to head home.

Cabin fever and loss of strength

Emily Harrington (r.) and Adrian Ballinger

Emily Harrington (r.) and Adrian Ballinger

“Living for months in a little yellow tent at or above 18,000 feet may sound super adventurous to those who haven’t done it before,” Harrington said in an interview of the magazine “Vogue”. “But it can get pretty isolating and you develop a sort of cabin fever after a while.” And there is the loss of weight and muscle mass, says the 30-year-old, adding that it normally takes her half a year to rock climb again at the same level as before. “I’m hoping this trip won’t do as much damage.”

Manageable length

Her life partner Adrian Ballinger, head of the operator Alpenglow Expeditions, points out in the same interview that he has spent seven to eight months a year living in yellow tents on expeditions around the world since 1997. “I’ve loved the epic, meaning: long expeditions,” the 40-year-old told the “Vogue”. “But now I want to use all I’ve learned to shorten Himalayan expeditions to a more manageable length.” Alpenglow already offers eight-thousander expeditions lasting only for one month.

On prepared route, with breathing mask

The successful two-week trip to Cho Oyu and back was a successful advertisement for these so-called “Rapid Ascent Expeditions”: Members get used to thin air in hypoxic tents at home instead of time-consuming acclimatization on the mountain and don’t arrive at the foot of the mountain until it is prepared with fixed ropes. On Cho Oyu, Ballinger and Harrington also climbed on the already prepared route, with Sherpa support and with bottled oxygen from Camp 2 at 7,200 meters. “But we were still carrying a huge amount of personal gear on us,” Adrian said. “Each day was brutal, but we knew we only had to perform at a really high level for four days.” A successful “snapexpedition”, perfectly suitable for Snapchat, snapshots and Twitter. The model for the future? Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the stamina in little yellow tents.


8. October 2016 | 12:21