More DW Blogs DW.COM

Adventure Sports

with Stefan Nestler

Instant expedition to Cho Oyu

Upper slopes on Cho Oyu

Upper slopes on Cho Oyu

Who will stop the grey gentleman? The time-thieves who are wreaking havoc in German writer Michael Ende’s  novel “Momo” seem to have invaded the Himalayas. Western operators have noticed over the past few years that the chance to sell expeditions is the higher, the shorter the trips to Asia last. There are not too many employers who approve a two-month holiday application of an employee who wants to go to an eight-thousander expedition.

Saving acclimatization time

The US operator Alpenglow Expeditions has recognized the predicament potential eight-thousander aspirants are getting into and offer so-called “Rapid Ascent Expeditions”: members get used to thin air in hypoxic tents at home instead of time-consuming acclimatization on the mountain and don’t arrive at the foot of the mountain until it is prepared with fixed ropes. So Alpenglow melts down the duration of an Everest expedition to the Tibetan north side to 42 days. This fall’s Cho Oyu expedition of the US operator takes only 30 days.

On prepared slope

Hypoxia training at home

Hypoxia training at home

Adrian Ballinger, the head of Alpenglow, wants to prove that it works even much faster. The American, aged 40, has flown to Cho Oyu along with his partner in live, the 30-year-old professional climber Emily Harrington, to climb Cho Oyu. Within less than two weeks, the couple wants to be back in the US. Ballinger and Harrington have completed an intense hypoxia training at home at Lake Tahoe in California – and followed very closely the forecasts of the meteorologists for a good weather window on this mountain. Without the usual acclimatization rounds, they want to climb directly on the normal route, which is already prepared with fixed ropres, to the 8188-meter-high summit, as high as possible without additional oxygen. For the upper parts of the mountain, however, oxygen bottles should be available, which will have been deposited there before by the Sherpas of the Alpenglow commercial expedition. The couple is planning to ski down from the summit and to travel back afterwards to the United States as fast as possible.

End of deceleration

Time thieves (seen on a graffiti wall in the German town of Trier)

Time thieves (seen on a graffiti wall in the German town of Trier)

If Ballinger and Harrington will finish their “instant expedition” successfully, that will, of course, be best advertisement for Alpenglow’s Rapid Ascent Expeditions. But that’s what falls by the wayside: the deceleration during an expedition, the immersion in foreign countries and cultures, the encounters with the locals, with the other expedition members, and not least with himself, in short the actual expedition life. And the gray gentlemen rub their hands.



24. September 2016 | 13:28