Ines Papert: “I’m certainly quite proud”
If a good mood could be converted into electricity, Ines Papert right now wouldn’t need any socket at home. I can literally hear the beaming face of the 42-year-old German top climber on the phone when we talk about her success at the 5842-meter-high Kyzyl Asker in the border area between Kyrgyzstan and China. Along with her 28-year-old Slovenian rope partner Luka Lindic, she has opened – as reported – a spectacular route through the Southeast Face of the mountain. A line where many top climbers had previously failed, she herself twice.
Ines, how does it feel to have fulfilled a dream in the third run (after 2010 and 2011)?
Really good would be an understatement. (She laughs) There are actually no words for it. I still wake up sometimes in the morning and think: Was this just a dream? The moment up there was very emotional, though brief. We knew the weather turned and we quickly had to climb down again. There was not much time to enjoy it. But it’s still an unforgettable experience.
You have been for the first time en route with Slovenian Luka Lindic and returned with such a big success. Did it just fit?
Kyzyl Asker was still hard to digest after I had failed in 2011 for the second time. It was clear to me that I should have a better team if I try it again. I did not want to leave it to chance, I just had to listen to my inner voice. When I showed Luka a picture of the wall at an event of our joint sponsor, I immediately felt his enthusiasm. In the meantime, I can recognize whether such emotions rise from deep conviction or from cool calculation that it might be good for his vita. I immediately realized that Luka was serious. Of course, I have followed his expeditions during the past years. You couldn’t wish for a better climbing partner for such a project. There were actually no causes of friction between us. We didn’t have to communicate a lot on the mountain. It was just clear how to tackle it.
Did you have to motivate each other?
This wasn’t necessary at all. We were highly motivated from the beginning when we saw how good the conditions were compared with my two previous attempts. We arrived, made our acclimatization tour, waited in a blizzard for two days and then immediately used the first good weather window. There weren’t any long waiting periods, problems with high altitude or any other ones.
You finished a line that had been a too hard nut to crack for many expeditions before. You yourself had also failed twice. What was the secret of success this time?
I had considered that it was more favorable to travel from China to the mountain. That was what Nicolas Favresse and Sean Villanueva had done for the first time in 2013 when they had first climbed the South Pillar to the right of our route. Until then, we thought we had to travel via Kyrgyzstan. From the Chinese side, you don’t have to carry your baggage over 16 kilometers across a 5,200-meter-high pass to Advanced Base Camp, as you have to do in Kyrgyzstan. In addition, you set off in China at an altitude of 2,900 meters and can acclimatize much better than in Kyrgyzstan, where you first have to go by car up to 4,000 meters. So we had a shorter access and more elevation to acclimatize.
The second secret of success was our team. Luka is just incredibly fast. We perfectly complemented each other and were able to speed up. For us it was clear that we had to climb almost the entire 1,200 meters difference in altitude to the summit ridge on the first day.
And then the good conditions! During my first attempts the conditions had been really difficult. Then we had at least M 8 pitches. Such a difficult mixed climbing takes much more time than now in a closed ice line, which is only interrupted a few times by rock sections.
Another success factor was that we had only one backpack. We have done it in a light style. We had only a two-person sleeping bag, no reserve of gas and food, only the absolutely necessary clothing.
Did you have to go to your limit when climbing?
Actually, I was only at my limit high up in the wall. It’s really tough if you have only one backpack. I don’t know whether I would do it again. Perhaps it would be better to divide the equipment, between a light backpack for the leading climber and a heavier one for the second. We took turns at leading every few pitches. The passages in which I was the second and had to carry the heavy backpack were the most exhausting ones. Finally Luca once more accelerated. I might have bivouacked already one, two pitches below. But we were looking for a place to sit on reasonably. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen.
The success proved you right, even if you have spent a very cold night.
But this only worked because we didn’t have to climb a lot afterwards. After this night neither of us would have been able to climb once more in the same difficulty as before.
Where do you rank this success in your career?
Actually, very, very high up. (She laughs) I simply like the Alpine style best. You are flexible and fast, you can also use small time windows. This style was simply suggested for our line. I am certainly quite proud.
I have been also very happy about various comments on Facebook, by climbers who had previously tried in vain to climb the route. This is the greatest reward at all. Someone could have also been pissed and could have written: This was actually my line, it was reserved for me. You can see that, by and large, the climbing community works well, that we don’t grudge each other a success. This was a nice experience.
And now you feel empty and don’t know what to do next?
No way! I always have a lot of ideas. I don’t even know when to realize it all. My life is not enough for that. We had a little time left in China at the end of our expedition to create a list of possible goals for the next time.
In other words, you’re going to climb with Luka again?
For sure, we already have very concrete plans.
Date27. October 2016 | 15:27