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with Stefan Nestler

Snowy Everest

Everest North Face (now)

Everest North Face (now)

I know this view. But how different is Mount Everest looking now this fall. The Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki has pitched his Advanced Base Camp (ABC) exactly where our tents stood eleven years ago. In spring 2005, I accompanied the Austrian Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, the German Ralf Dujmovits and the Japanese Hirotaka Takeuchi to Everest North Face and reported from ABC at 5,500 meters on DW Radio and the Internet on the progress of the expedition.

Having survived a cerebral edema

North Face (in 2005)

North Face (in 2005)

Originally, the trio had planned to climb via the so-called Supercouloir route to the summit at 8,850 meters: in the lower part through the Japanese Couloir (first climbed by the Japanese Shigehiro and Ozaki fin 1980), in the upper part through the Hornbein Couloir (named after the US climber Hornbein, who was in 1963 along with his compatriot Unsoeld the first who dared to climb into the steep North Face at an altitude of about 7,600 meters). The conditions in the wall made it impossible, the three professional climbers turned to the normal route. In the end the expedition failed because Hiro suffered from a cerebral edema above 7,000 meters, which he survived with luck. Seven years later, in 2012, Takeuchi became the first Japanese who climbed all 14 eight-thousanders.

High danger of avalanches

In spring 2005, the wall was significantly less snowy than now. Nobukazu Kuriki has announced that he would try to reach the summit of Everest via the “Great Couloir”, solo and without supplemental oxygen. The Australian climbers Tim Macartney-Snape and Greg Mortimer had opened the route “White Limbo”  through the Norton Couloir in 1984, without breathing masks. At that time the wall was also covered in snow. Since then the route has not been repeated.

The 34-year-old Japanese has already been at the foot of the wall and spoke of high danger of avalanches. As reported before, Kuriki is trying for the sixth time to climb the highest mountain in the world in the post-monsoon period, for the first time, however, on the north side. He had got a first impression of the North Face in 2012. In this failed attempt via the West Ridge he had suffered so severe frostbite that later nine fingers had to be amputed almost completely.

Jornet: “A lot of snow”

The Spaniard Kilian Jornet is informing the public significantly more incommunicative than Kuriki about the progress of his Everest expedition, also on the north side. “We continue with the acclimatization,” the 28-year-old tweeted a week ago. “There’s a lot of snow, but everything is okay.” Since then there has been silence. Kilian wants – as you could also read in my blog – to speed climb Everest: in a single push from the Rongbuk monastery to the summit, without bottled oxygen and Sherpa support. It is possible for both Kuriki and Jornet will get stuck in the snow or they will battle through it. So it will remain interesting.


15. September 2016 | 9:58