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with Stefan Nestler

Mixed balance

Northern route on Everest

Mount Everest has shown his teeth again on the past weekend – just on the day when eight climbers were on their summit push without bottled oxygen. Contrary to expectations, on Saturday wind gusts and snowfall in the summit area made the ascent difficult. The result: two summit successes without breathing mask on the north side, one on the south side. Two climbers, who used supplemental oxygen at all and reached the highest point at 8,850 meters. And three summit aspirants, who turned back because of concerns for their health.

Wenzl’s eighth eight-thousander

Latorre, Wenzl and Graziani back in BC (from l.)

All of these mountaineers have arrived safely in the base camps – which is the most important of all news. The only one who reached the summit on Saturday from the south without bottled oxygen was the Austrian Hans Wenzl. For the 46-year-old Carinthian, Everest was his ninth eight-thousander after Broad Peak, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum I and II, Manaslu, Cho Oyu and Makalu. He climbed them all without supplemental oxygen. According to Spanish media reports, Wenzl reached the summit around Saturday noon, a few hours after Ferran Latorre, who – as reported before – finally had used a breathing mask because of the adverse weather conditions. By summiting Everest, the 46-year-old Catalan completed his eight-thousander collection. Ferran had climbed the other 13 eight-thousanders without the use of bottled oxygen. The Frenchman Yannick Graziani turned back at 8,500 meters – his countrywoman Elisabeth Revol “halfway” to the summit, as she wrote today on Facebook: “But it was an incredibly beautiful and intense adventure.”

Double ascent without breathing mask

Kilian Jornet on Everest

On the north side, the Spaniard Kilian Jornet climbed up to the summit on Saturday for the second time in a week without the use of bottled oxygen: in a single push from the Advanced Base Camp at 6,400 meters. After 17 hours he reached the summit. It had been hard to move fast, the 29-year-old said: “I think summiting Everest twice in one week without oxygen opens up a new realm of possibilities in alpinism and I’m really happy to have done it.” Without diminishing Kilian’s really great performance in any way – Pemba Dorje Sherpa succeeded a double ascent of Everest within a week already in 2007, at the time also ascending from the north.

“Only pain and gratitude”

Ballinger on the summit

The American Adrian Ballinger, who reached the roof of the world for the seventh time, but for the first time without supplemental oxygen, was happy too. “So much more to say, but my brain isn’t ready to process anything more than pain and gratitude right now,” wrote the 41-year-old on Instagram. His companion Cory Richards, who did not feel good during the ascent, used bottled oxygen to support Ballinger on the way up to the summit.

Turned back ahead of Second Step

The German Ralf Dujmovits, according to his own words, reached an altitude of 8,580 meters, just ahead of the Second Step, the most striking rock step on the Northeast Ridge. The 55-year-old decided to abandon his summit attempt when he began to lose feeling in his hands and feet due to the wind and snowfall – a careful decision. For the eighth time, Ralf had tried to reach the summit without supplemental oxygen. On his successful climb in fall 1992, the only German so far who has summited all 14 eight-thousanders, had used bottled oxygen in bad weather above the South Col. Dujmovits had climbed the other eight-thousanders without breathing mask.

Does Kuriki try it again?

On Sunday, the Japanese Nobukazu Kuriki ascended to Camp 2 at 6,400 meters on the south side of Everest. After his failed attempt on the West-Ridge last week, the 34-year-old had announced that he wanted to climb up again. The weather forecast predicts for the next days light snowfall and wind with speeds between 20 and 30 km/h.


29. May 2017 | 13:47