More DW Blogs DW.COM

Adventure Sports

with Stefan Nestler

Bad luck for Siegrist and Schild on Shiva

The 6,142-meter-high Shiva in northern India

Shiva has rough edges. On the one hand he is the god of creation for the Hindus. But he is also feared for the fact that he smashes everything to bits, if he is in a real peeve. The same applies to the 6,142 meter-high mountain of the same name in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Sometimes Shiva attracts the world’s best climbers with its steep walls and beautiful shape, then again it is unruly – as the Swiss climbers Stephan Siegrist and Jonas Schild as well as their photographer Dominic Fischer had to experience this fall. Siegrist, aged 45, and the 26-year-old Schild had actually planned to climb the North Face of the mountain. But somehow everything went wrong.

At a snail’s pace

Lots of snow

First, the Indian kitchen team that had traveled ahead erroneously set up the base camp on the south side of Shiva instead of the north side. The climbers lost time because they had to go around the mountain to get to the foot of the Shiva North Face. Then the weather changed. For days it snowed down to 2,500 meters above sea level. “We were stuck,” writes Stephan Siegrist. “Through 60 centimeters of fresh snow we finally reached a place at 3,900 meters on 26 September, suitable for a base camp.” Two days later they started to the foot of the wall. “Partially sinking down to the hip, we fought like snails towards the foot of the North Pillar. Without backpacks we reached an altitude of 5,000 meters on the same day, crossing below a serac. We felt good.” But again it began to snow. For days. Avalanches swept down into the valley.

“Senseless, dangerous, fun-free”

Stephan Siegrist climbing a crack

The conditions on the mountain worsened daily, reports Stephan. Finally the team pulled the rip cord and gave up their plan to climb the North Face of Shiva. “With the amount of fresh snow, it would have been anything but climbing, a senseless, dangerous digging in the snow without any fun,” says Siegrist. The trio started another attempt in the direction of the still unclimbed Shiva West Ridge, but the same picture over there: “Again we sank into the deep snow. For the next two hours we slowly dug our way forward until it became clear that it was senseless here as well. It was frustrating.” The Swiss broke down their tents. At the end of the expedition there was still a little consolation. In the lower Jobri-Nala valley, Jonas Schild mastered a 20-meter-long finger-wide crack on an overhanging wall (which he rated as grade 8a+ on the French difficulty scale). “I think it’s the hardest crack climb in India right now,” Jonas writes on Facebook.

Piolet d’Or 2013 for Shiva route by Fowler and Rampsten

Shiva, which was so stubborn this fall, was first climbed in 1988 by a Japanese women’s expedition from the south via an easier route. The team also included Junko Tabei, the first woman to climb Mount Everest. In November 2012, the two British Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden mastered the extremely difficult Northeast Ridge of Shiva. In 2013, they were awarded the Piolet d’Or, the “Oscar of the Climbers”, for this amazing climb.


13. November 2018 | 16:56