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with Stefan Nestler

Everest season: successes, records, deaths and more

North side of Everest in the last daylight

If a mountain could breathe a sight of relief, Mount Everest would probably do it now. A total of more than 1,000 climbers on both sides of the highest mountain on earth have left the base camps and have returned home. There is silence again on Chomolungma, as the Sherpas call the mountain. Time to take stock. The exact figures are not yet available, but this spring some 600 summit successes have been recorded, increasing the number since the first ascent in 1953 to more than 8000.

Discussion about Jornet’s double ascent

Kilian Jornet on Everest

The most spectacular performance was made by the Spaniard Kilian Jornet, who climbed up to the summit twice within a week without the use of bottled oxygen. He set off for his first ascent from Rongbuk Monastery and climbed in a single push to the highest point, with only a short stopover in the Advanced Base Camp (ABC) at 6,400 meters. Only 38 hours after his departure from the Monastery he returned to ABC. A few days later he made his second ascent. This time it took him 17 hours from ABC to the summit at 8,850 meters. Afterwards, discussion arose because the 29-year-old did not present summit pictures or GPS data to document his ascents. Jornet promised to publish the data of his GPS clock. Already in 2007, Pemba Dorje Sherpa had made an Everest double ascent without breathing mask within a week.

Three eight-thousanders in five days?

Nirmal Purja

Nirmal Purja, a soldier of the British Gurkha regiment, also climbed Everest twice this spring, albeit with the use of bottled oxygen: on 15 and 27 May. Eight hours after his second summit success on Everest, the 34-year-old stood on top of Lhotse – and on 1 June he reached the summit of Makalu. Three eight-thousanders in five days? According to the Nepali Ministry of Tourism, the information is still being examined.

Kuriki wants to return

Overall, there were at least five successful Everest ascents without supplemental oxygen this season, possibly even nine: According to Indian media reports, four members of an Indian army expedition reached the summit without bottled oxygen. Other mountaineers failed, like the German Ralf Dujmovits in his eighth and, according to his own words, “definitely last” Everest attempt without breathing mask. The Japanese Nobukazu Kuriki also returned without summit success – from his now seventh attempt. He had wanted to climb via the West Ridge and the Hornbein Couloir to the summit. “I’ll be back,” the 34-year-old said.

Seven deaths

A total of seven people did not return from Everest this spring. Six climbers and a base camp cook died. Above all, the death of the Swiss top climber Ueli Steck made headlines all over the world. The 40-year-old fell to death during an acclimatization climb on Nuptse. A report on four dead climbers found in a tent on the South Col proved to be a hoax.

For the 21st time on top of Everest

Kami Rita Sherpa on the summit

Two records were achieved by Sherpas. The 46-year-old Kami Rita Sherpa from the village of Thame in the Khumbu area summited Everest for the 21st time. So he closed the gap on Apa Sherpa (also born in Thame), and Phurba Tashi Sherpa from the village of Kumjung, who have also 21 ascents under their belts. Lhakpa Sherpa had already been the woman with the most Everest ascents before this season. The 43-year-old Nepalese, who lives in the USA, bettered her own record to eight summit successes now.

Anything else? As the second blind climber after the American Erik Weihenmayer, the 50 year-old Austrian Andy Holzer reached the summit of Everest. The 26-year-old British Mollie Hughes was ranked number 15 in the circle of female climbers who summited the highest mountain on earth from both the north and the south side.

10-year ban for mountaineers without a permit

The fact that morality on Everest is not exactly the best was proved again this season. Some climbers missed oxygen bottles, which they had previously deposited in high camps and obviously had been stolen. The South African Ryan Sean Davy was caught on the south side trying to climb the highest mountain without a permit. The Pole Janusz Adamski, who climbed from the north to the summit and then descended via the southern route, had no permit for the Nepali side too. Both of them were banned from mountaineering in Nepal for the next ten years. The actually due fine of $ 22,000 was not imposed in both cases. Why, remained open.

Where is the Hillary Step?

Has the Hillary Step gone?

There has also been much talk about this spring’s weather on Everest, which according to meteorologists was as difficult to predict as never before. And, of course, about the Hillary Step, which – in the opinion of the six-time Everest summiter Tim Mosedale – is no more. Sherpas contradicted, and the Nepalese government said: “The Hillary Step is still intact and is covered with snow.” Last year too, there had been speculation as to whether the striking rock formati


7. June 2017 | 15:10