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with Stefan Nestler

Ralf Dujmovits: “For me, that’s lying”

Ralf Dujmovits above Everest North Col

Tired and disappointed. That’s not only the way Ralf Dujmovits feels, he also sounds like this. The 55-year-old climber from Germany talks quietly and slowly, when he tells me via satellite phone about his failed summit attempt on Everest without bottled oxygen. On Saturday, Ralf had turned around at an altitude of 8,580 meters, just before the Second Step, the most striking rock step on the Northeast Ridge: “That was bitter.”

Ten minutes in a cove

As planned before, he set off at 1 a.m. from Camp 3 at 8,300 meters, along with the Sherpa Namgyal Lama. “We advanced quickly,” Ralf reports. Then it began to snow and it got windy. He and his companion sought shelter in a cove. “I was quickly loosing body warmth. I’ve been thinking for ten minutes. And it was clear to me: If I go on, I will suffer frostbite.”

“Extremely difficult decision”

View to the summit

The head said no – and the gut feeling? “The decision was extremely difficult for me. After all, I had decided beforehand that it should be my last attempt,” says Ralf. “It was totally disappointing to do the opposite of what I was about to do. Until then almost everything had worked perfectly. And then on the decisive day, the weather was simply not on my side.”

Bottled oxygen on descent

Frustrated, Ralf returned to Camp 3, where he took a rest for an hour. “Namgyal advised me to breathe bottled oxygen in order to remain concentrated on the further descent. That’s what I did. At that moment I didn’t give a damn, the attempt had failed anyway.” Dujmovits descended to the Advanced Base Camp on Saturday and to the Chinese Base Camp at 5,300 meters on Sunday: “I was wiped out when I arrived there. But that was also a result of my disappointment.” After all, he had previously spent a great deal of time and effort trying to fulfill his dream. “Now I have to get along with it.”

Jornet “from another planet”

Kilian Jornet on Everest

Ralf Dujmovits takes his hat off to the performance of the Spaniard Kilian Jornet, who climbed Everest twice within a week: alone, without bottled oxygen, at speed. “He’s from another planet, an incredible strong performance. I’m really happy for Kilian.” His opinion on Adrian Ballinger’s ascent without supplemental oxygen is quite different. “Jornet and Ballinger are worlds apart,” says Ralf. “The performance counts for me only if the summit was achieved independently and on someone’s own. I must be still master of my body, and master of my head. Everything else has nothing to do with mountaineering.

 “On the short rope”

The American had a whole team around him, says Ralf – not only his partner Cory Richards, but also an Ecuadorian mountain guide and two Sherpas who carried the technical equipment to be present in the social networks in real time: “It’s only about publicity.” On the descent, Ballinger was led by the Ecuadorian “on the short rope”, says Ralf Dujmovits, adding that he has not read anything about that: “So much about honesty. Things are simply omitted in public. For me, that’s lying.”

Update 30. May: Ballinger’s team has reacted to the report: “I climbed Everest with him all the way up and down from BC, and I can say that he was never short roped on the descent as Ralf wrongly affirms on this interview”, wrote the Ecuadorian Esteban Mena (see his comment below the post). “This information is not correct and should be corrected immediately.” It‘s his word against Ralf‘s.


29. May 2017 | 16:38