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with Stefan Nestler

No Everest ascents without bottled oxygen after all

Everest (l.) in the first daylight

Actually, it’s quite simple. An Everest summit success without bottled oxygen means that the climber did not use a breathing mask. And that’s exactly why the only two alleged climbs without bottled oxygen reported this spring season from the highest mountain on earth were indeed only summit successes, but nothing more! The German mountaineer and journalist Billi Bierling, head of the chronicle “Himalayan Database”, informed me today that on 24 May Tenjing Sherpa (often also called “Tenji”) had used bottled oxygen from the South Summit at 8,750 meters, 100 meters below the main summit. It had been windy, the 26-year-old had not wanted to risk frostbite, Billi said after the debriefing with Tenji and his British climbing partner Jon Griffith. The chronicler informed me that Lakpa Dendi Sherpa had used a breathing mask even above the South Col, at nearly 8,000 meters.

No correction

On the summit day, it had sounded completely different. Iswari Poudel, head of the Nepalese expedition operator “Himalayan Guides”, had told the newspaper “Himalayan Times” that both Tenjing and Lakpa Dendi Sherpa had not used bottled oxygen during their ascents. Was something misunderstood during radio communication? Hadn’t people talked about whether the climbers had used breathing masks? Or was a false report deliberately launched in order to make headlines? Anyhow, the information that Tenjing and Lakpa Dendi had climbed Everest without breathing mask spread worldwide. And neither the two climbers nor the expedition operator subsequently set it right. I find that not only unsportsmanlike, but also dishonest.

False report also from Makalu


Unfortunately, it’s not unusual any more. So it was reported this week that the 69-year-old Polish climber Lech Flaczynski and his son Wojciech had reached the summit of the eight-thousander Makalu. According to Billi Bierling, however, only the son was at the top, but not the father. Later Lech had to be flown out by rescue helicopter because he was suffering from severe stomach pain.

There are more and more cases where primarily expedition operators bend the truth or withhold important details. I find this development worrying – and a pity. How about some honesty?

Update 8 p.m.: I have to correct myself in the sense that Tenji Sherpa posted on Instagram three days ago that he was using bottled oxygen above the South Summit. However, nothing of the same could be heard from the expedition operator.


1. June 2018 | 14:24