Time is relative, depending on how you feel about it. Already three weeks ago? Only three weeks? This is the length of time that has passed since the avalanche on the eight-thousander Shishapangma in Tibet. On 24 September, the German ski mountaineer Sebastian Haag and the Italian Andrea Zambaldi died in an avalanche that released not far below the summit. Martin Maier, who was also swept away by the masses of snow, survived. Benedikt Boehm and the Swiss Ueli Steck were able to escape the avalanche. I call Benedict at home in Munich.
Benedict, it’s now three weeks since the avalanche on Shishapangma went down. Have you been able to come to terms with the accident?
No, not really. Immediately after the avalanche, I was involved with the rescue of Martin Maier, who had survived the avalanche as if by magic. It took two days, then we headed back home. Now I am busy again in my incredibly wonderful life that I am able to live here. As the manager of a relatively large sports brand, there are many tasks to complete, if you’ve been away for so long. That does not leave much time to come to rest. I had this time only during a couple of hours doing sports in the mountain early in the morning or late in the evening.
Date17. October 2014 | 15:53
TagsAndrea Zambaldi, Avalanche, Benedikt Boehm, Double8, Martin Maier, Sebastian Haag, Shishapangma, Ueli Steck
Ueli Steck has done his share to lift the fog that formed around the avalanche on the eight-thousander Shishapangma one and a half week ago. Benedikt Boehm and he were a little bit higher on the slope, “when suddenly a snow slab released and swept down the three climbers below us, Sebastian Haag, Andrea Zambaldi and Martin Maier”, said Ueli in Kathmandu in an interview with the Swiss newspaper “Sonntagszeitung”. “The snow slab released almost silently. It was eerie.” Maier was able to dig himself out. “He had no serious injuries, was able to descent and meet the rescue team. He is in Germany now.”
All attempts to enter the avalanche area and search for the buried climbers Haag and Zambaldi were unsuccessful. “It was too risky. We would have caused new avalanches”, Steck said. “Finally, we had to descend. In desperation you must not make mistakes that can jeopardize other people.”
Date5. October 2014 | 22:12
TagsAndrea Zambaldi, Avalanche, Benedikt Boehm, Double8 Expedition, Martin Maier, Sebastian Haag, Shishapangma, Sonntagszeitung, Ueli Steck
It is not far from triumph to tragedy on eight-thousanders. That was demonstrated on Manaslu these days. On Friday, the Japanese Yoshimasa Sasaki fell about 25 meters after slipping on blue ice at 7,300 meters. The 59-year-old died. Sasaki had climbed the eight-thousander Cho Oyu in 2003. Last weekend more than 30 climbers reached the summit of Manaslu, the eight highest mountain in the world, including the Polish ski mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel. The 26-year-old said that he needed only 14 hours and five minutes for his speed ascent, just an hour less than the German Benedikt Boehm in fall 2012. After having skied down the most parts of the route, Andrzej reached the Base Camp 21 hours and 14 minutes after his departure. Two years ago, Bene had needed a total of 23.5 hours for ascent and ski descent.
Date29. September 2014 | 15:49
TagsAndrea Zambaldi, Avalanche, Bargiel, Double8 Expedition, Manaslu, Reinhold Messner, Sasaki, Sebastian Haag, Shishapangma
No, I didn’t really know Sebastian Haag. I met him only once – as we sometimes do in the mountaineering scene. It was a year ago, at the International Mountain Summit (IMS) in Brixen (Bressanone) in South Tyrol. At that time he and Benedikt Boehm reported on their experiences at the eight-thousander Manaslu in Nepal: On 22. September 2012, an avalanche had hit two high camps at about 6000 meters. Eleven climbers had been killed. Bene and Basti were lucky because, due to a disquieting feeling, they had pitched their tent far away from the others. After the accident the two Germans had rescued several injured climbers. In October 2013 in Brixen, we talked about the risks that Basti took as an extreme athlete. “There are moments in which you have to switch off your brain, and others in which you have to switch it on”, said Basti. “Of course something can happen to us, like to anyone else. Nobody is immune, no matter how cautious you are. And if you’re too cautious, you have to stay at home, climb the Zugspitze or take part in the Munich City marathon.”
Date26. September 2014 | 15:38
TagsAndrea Zambaldi, Avalanche, Benedikt Boehm, Double8 Expedition, IMS, Luis Stitzinger, Manaslu, Sebastian Haag, Shishapangma
I am shocked. During the expedition at Shisha Pangma (8.013m) in the morning of September 24th an avalanche accident happened. The Double8 expedition team around Benedikt Boehm, Sebastian Haag and Andrea Zambaldi were ascending towards summit when the accident occurred. The team mates Sebastian Haag and Andrea Zambaldi felt victim to the avalanche. This is the message that Benedikt Boehm sent from basecamp:
„In the afternoon of 23.09.2014 at 16:30, Benedikt Boehm (37) and Ueli Steck (38) started from Basecamp (5.600m) the speed ascent on Shisha Pangma 8013m. The plan was to reach the summit in the morning of the 24.09.2014, together with the team mates Sebastian Haag (36), who was starting from Camp 1 (6.300m) as well as Martin Maier (40) and Andrea Zambaldi (32) who were starting from Camp 2 (6.800m).
Date25. September 2014 | 17:22
Breaking news: Avalanche on Shishapagma, two climbers missed
Three climbers of the Double8 Expedition were hit by an avalanche at 7,900 meters yesterday. Sebastian Haag and Andrea Zambaldi were buried and could not be found, the German home team of the expedition said. More details later.
Date25. September 2014 | 16:22
Climbers are no couch potatoes. We are travelling worldwide to pursue our hobby. Or should I say our passion? Sadly, some get caught in the crossfire. Yesterday, there was the shocking news that Algerian jihadists affiliated with the IS group had beheaded the French mountain guide Hervé Gourdel. The 55-year-old lived in the mountain village of Saint-Martin-Vesubie in the French Maritime Alps. He was spending his holidays in the 2,000-meter-high Djurdjura range in northern Algeria, when he was kidnapped last Sunday.
Date25. September 2014 | 16:18
That’s harsh. It seems that Benedikt Boehm, Sebastian Haag and Andrea Zambaldi had to turn around on Shishapangma once again, this time at about 7,850 meters, just 180 meters below the summit. At this altitude Bene posted: “Fighting, fighting, fighting. Heaps of snow and high risk of avalanche … Frustrating!!” 100 meters below Bene had written: “The deep, windblown snow is killing us.” The conditions in the summit area were apparently too dangerous – just like they were at their first attempt six days ago. The GPS tracking of Bene is also showing that he obviously skied down from a bit below the summit.
Date24. September 2014 | 16:27
The second summit bid of the German ski mountaineers Benedikt Boehm and Sebastian Haag has begun on the eight-thousander Shishapangma in Tibet – under slightly different conditions. The Swiss top climber Ueli Steck is accompanying the team. Today Ueli and Bene started towards the summit. Basti, who is suffering from a cough caused by high altitude, will join them at Camp 1, the Italian Andrea Zambaldi at Camp 2. Norbu Sherpa is not part of the second bid. The conditions on the mountain have hardly changed during the past days since the first attempt, which ended at about 7,600 meters. It is still windy, and there is a high danger of avalanches due to the deep snow on the slopes. The climbers want to reach the 8,027-meter-high summit on Wednesday morning. The weather forecast for the scheduled summit day is favourable: moderate wind and temperatures between -10 and -20 degrees. The chance of success was 50 percent, Benedict said before leaving the Advanced Base Camp.
Date23. September 2014 | 12:42
Got stuck. At about 7600 meters, 400 meters below the summit of Shishapangma, the first summit attempt of the ski mountaineers Benedikt Boehm and Sebastian Haag ended. On Thursday morning, the two Germans, their Italian companion Andrea Zambaldi and the Nepalese Sherpa Norbu decided with a heavy heart to turn around. There was hip-deep snow in the summit area, the risk of avalanches was too high. “I wanted to give a try to the summit”, says Basti, really frustrated, in the video that you can watch below. “But in the end I was alone because nobody wanted to come with me – I think because it was a kamikaze mission.”
Date20. September 2014 | 17:09
The clock is ticking. The German ski mountaineers Benedikt Boehm and Sebastian Haag started in Tibet their attempt to set a speed record on the two eight-thousanders Shishapangma and Cho Oyu. “The only thing I can think of is that it’s gonna be the hardest seven days of my life. That’s for sure,” says Benedict in the video, which you can watch below. Sebastian is even more clearly: “This is the start button for seven days of torture, for seven days of suffering, seven days of bleeding and sweating.” Within a week, Bene and Basti want to climb the 8027-meter-high Shishapangma, ski down, cycle with their mountain bikes to Cho Oyu, climb up and ski down this eight-thousander too.
Date17. September 2014 | 16:05
TagsAndrea Zambaldi, Benedikt Boehm, Cho Oyu, Double8 Expedition, Norbu Sherpa, Sebastian Haag, Shishapangma, Ueli Steck
This man seems to be ageless. How on earth does Reinhold Messner do it? The first man who climbed all 14 eight-thousanders, responds with his motto from Tibetan: “Kalipé” – with steady feet. Ahead of his 70th birthday on Wednesday, I called him at home in South Tyrolia.
Reinhold Messner, how will you celebrate your birthday?
It will be a private birthday party, in no way a public one. There is a time and a place. I can tell you that I have invited my friends to bivouac. For the last time, at the age of 70, I will spend the night after the party outdoor, under the stars, in the sleeping bag. Most of my friends will do the same, all the others will drive to the hotel in the valley.
Date15. September 2014 | 15:52
Other people at this age feel they do sport when they play Bridge. Carlos Soria is climbing eight-thousanders. The Spaniard is 75 years old, last May, he stood (with bottled oxygen) on top of the 8,586-meter-high Kangchenjunga. Thus Carlos is holding the age record on that mountain like he already does on K 2 (65 years), Broad Peak (68), Makalu (69), Gasherbrum I (70) and Manaslu (71). He has now summited eleven of the 14 eight-thousanders. Now he is trying again to climb the 8,027-meter-high Shishapangma in Tibet. “It’s just my year, and it would be a shame to let end my run of luck”, says the fit senior. In 2005 Soria reached the lower Central Summit (8008 meters). Last year, he had to turn back in Camp 3 at 7400 meters due to bad weather. Besides Shishapangma the eight-thousanders Dhaulagiri (8,167 meters) and Annapurna (8,091 meters) are still missing in Carlos’ collection.
Date10. September 2014 | 16:26
I felt as if I was close to K 2 but in fact I was quite far off. After the return from our first ascent of the 7129-m-high Kokodak Dome I found out the real distance between the two mountains: 300 km as the crow flies. Not just around the corner. Because of my expedition I (and thus possibly also you as a reader of my blog) missed what was going at the second highest mountain in the world during this summer.
Date4. September 2014 | 16:30
TagsDavid Lama, Expeditionen, Expeditions, Hansjoerg Auer, K 2, Karakorum, Masherbrum, Miguel Angel Perez, Radek Jaroš
Time so say hello again. I hope you didn’t worry about me, I am still alive. The reason why you did not read anything in English in my blog during the last weeks is that I was on expedition in the Northwest of China. Sorry, I was fully stretched climbing and writing my blog in German. I joined an AMICAL expedition to the previous unclimbed 7129-meter-high Kokodak Dome, also known as Kokodak II. The peak is part of the Kongur Range in the Kunlun mountains in the region Xinjiang. Kokodak I (or Kokodak Peak), which is 81 meters higher, was firstly climbed by a Russian team in 2006. Our expedition was led by Luis Stitzinger. The 45-year-old prominent German climber has already summited six 8000ers, five of them together with his wife Alix von Melle. Our team consisted of 13 clients from Germany and Austria – and of Chhongba Sherpa and Singi Lama, two Climbing Sherpas from Nepal.
Date30. August 2014 | 21:48