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with Stefan Nestler

Everest/Makalu: Clarifications

South side of Mount Everest

The fog is clearing. The climbers mentioned in my last blog post have spoken. For days, the false report had been tenacious that Tenjing (mostly called “Tenji”) Sherpa and Lakpa Dendi Sherpa were the only mountaineers this season to climb Everest without bottled oxygen. “I think the confusion arose because Sherpa Dendi radio ahead of us on the summit to say we had all made it,” Jon Griffith, Tenjing’s British rope partner, wrote in a comment to my article on Facebook. “Given that Tenji was attempting a no O2 climb and given that radio comms is pretty poor from the summit I suspect that Base Camp assumed that he had climbed without O2 and hence the rumour spread.”

Griffith: Not a bad intent

Tenjing’s post on Instagram

When they returned to Base Camp, Jon said, they had no Internet connection either, because the transmission tower of the Nepalese provider had fallen down: “I don’t think it was an attempt by Iswari [Poudel, head of the expedition operator Himalayan Guides, who spread the news] or anyone to be dishonest, just a lack of information combined with excitement in the Nepalese community that Tenji had (incorrectly) summited without O2, and a heavy dose of the rest of our climbing team being cut off from the internet for a week after the fact.”

Wait for confirmation

Back in Kathmandu, Tenjing Sherpa had informed via Instagram that he had used  a breathing mask above the South Summit at 8,750 meters due to strong winds. What can we learn from it? That expedition operators sometimes overshoot the mark, full of enthusiasm for team’s success (and probably also for marketing reasons). And that it is therefore advisable to wait for confirmation instead of spreading it immediately on the “news market”.

Seven days over 7000 meters

Lech (l.) and Wojciech Flaczynski in the rescue helicopter

Also a summit success of the Polish climbers Lech and Wojziech Flaczynski on Makalu had been reported hastily. In the meantime, Wojziech has clarified this matter. Only he had reached the highest point at 8,485 meters on 24 May, without bottled oxygen, he informed on the Polish website “”. His 69-year-old father Lech, who used a breathing mask above Camp 4, had to give up just below the summit. He had suffered from such severe stomach ache that he had been hardly able to move. Therefore, said Wojziech, they had called for emergency help and made an unplanned bivouac at about 8,200 meters.  Due to strong winds and because Lech became weaker and weaker, they had to spent a total of seven days above 7,000 meters. Wojziech reports that it was not until 31 May, a week after his summit success, that they were flown out of Camp 2 by rescue helicopter; his father underwent surgery in a hospital in Kathmandu and is currently recovering. Get well soon, Lech!


5. June 2018 | 14:05