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Rockfall on Spantik

Spantik (the normal route

It was close, damn close. “We were very, very lucky,” writes Patrick z’Brun to me. The mountain guide was part of a Swiss team that escaped a tragedy by a hair’s breadth on the 7,027-meter-high Spantik in the Karakoram this summer. The day after their arrival, the climbers were just setting up their base camp. “Suddenly someone shouted ‘Rock, rock’,” reports Patrick. A large boulder rushed through a couloir directly towards the base camp. Nearly 200 meters ahead of the camp, the boulder divided into two pieces without them changing direction: “Two kitchen tents and a sleeping tent were sheer shaved off. The two rocks rushed past two climbers by a hair’s breadth.” According to Patrick’s words, an expedition member just managed to save himself by jumping behind a small wall on which the kitchen tent had stood. An eight-second video of the incident documents how lucky the group was:

Date

19. September 2018 | 17:25

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Eight-thousander No. 8 for Luis Stitzinger

Luis Stitzinger

According to his own words, Luis Stitzinger has reached the 8,080-meter-high summit of Gasherbrum I in the Karakoram yesterday (Wednesday). He was on his descent, the 49-year-old German climber informed via Facebook today. For Luis, it is his eighth eight-thousander success after Cho Oyu (in 2000), Gasherbrum II (in 2006), Nanga Parbat (in 2008), Dhaulagiri (in 2009), Broad Peak (in 2011), Shisha Pangma (in 2013) and Manaslu (in 2017). He climbed all of them without bottled oxygen, six of them together with his wife Alix von Melle.

Date

19. July 2018 | 13:20

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“Good-weather disturbance” in the Karakoram

A lot of snow on Gasherbrum II

A short snowfall break in the Karakoram – or, as Felix Berg describes it from Gasherbrum II with a twinkle in his eye “a small good-weather disturbance”. Time for the climbers to stuck their noses into the wind and to reconsider their plans. Dominik Müller, head and expedition leader of the German operator Amical alpin has decided to strike the tents on the 8,051-meter-high Broad Peak and to return home. “All the equipment from Camp 1 was recovered,” Dominik writes on Facebook today. “Just now it’s snowing again, and during our ascent there were some avalanches!” The porters have been ordered for Sunday.

Date

5. July 2018 | 16:30

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Snow is slowing down climbers in Pakistan

Broad Peak Base Camp in deep snow

Summer in the Karakorum? At the moment it feels more like winter, at least in terms of precipitation. For days Mother Holle has been shaking out her mattress over Pakistan’s highest mountains. “Snowfall all day long”, writes Dominik Müller, head and expedition leader of the German operator Amical alpin at the foot of the eight-thousander Broad Peak. “Our base camp is slowly turning into a winter landscape. Avalanches barrel down from the slopes every hour!” The Austrian expedition leader Lukas Furtenbach, from Broad Peak too, takes the same lime: “Tough weather conditions this year”. The situation on the other eight-thousanders in Pakistan is not different. No matter if from the neighbouring K 2, Gasherbrum I and II or Nanga Parbat – the same messages everywhere: Lots of snow, high avalanche risk.

Date

29. June 2018 | 22:13

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Stitzinger after success on Manaslu: “A different wind is blowing”

Luis Stitzinger (l.) and Alix von Melle (r.) on the summit of Manaslu

“Despite the premonition, we were utterly amazed at what happened there,” says Luis Stitzinger after his return from Manaslu. “This was a true tent city in the base camp.” As reported earlier, the 48-year-old had led a team of eight of the German expedition operator Amical alpin to the 8,163-meter-high summit in Nepal last Saturday. Along with Luis, his 46-year-old wife Alix von Melle, reached the highest point. For both, it was their seventh eight-thousander and the sixth which they scaled together, all without bottled oxygen. At the beginning of the expedition eleven of the 14 members of the Amical team had become infected with flu by ill porters. “It was a bad start,” says Luis. “Some members had to abandon the whole thing. It was a pity.” I reach Luis on the phone at a hotel in Kathmandu:

Luis, first of all congratulations on your seventh eight-thousander. How did you experience your summit day?

Date

6. October 2017 | 10:31

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Everest conditions on Manaslu

Manaslu

The “Mountain of the Spirit” is close to my heart. It is simply because I spent more than a month at the foot of Manaslu ten years ago. Since then, I have had a personal relationship with this impressive eight-thousander in Nepal. In spring 2007, I reported from the base camp at 4,850 meters about a commercial expedition. Once I myself climbed up to Camp 1 at 5,700 meters. At that time we – expedition leader Ralf Dujmovits and eleven clients as well as a team of two from Austria – were the only people on the mountain. We could not imagine (and would not have liked) then that Manaslu would mutate into the “Mount Everest of fall season”.  In the current season about 500 climbers populated Manaslu Base Camp. Nearly 200 summit successes have been reported so far – being noticed that this time mostly pictures were published that had been taken on the highest point and not, as in previous years, on a spot below. Among those who reached the 8,163-meter-high summit there were two climbers with whom I had been en route on other mountains.

Date

2. October 2017 | 14:42

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Big rush on Manaslu

Manaslu

Once again, Manaslu turns to become the “Everest of the fall season”. The base camp at the foot of the eighth-highest mountain on earth (8,163 meters) will soon be reminiscent of the tented village at the highest of all mountains in spring. According to the newspaper “The Himalayan Times”, the Nepali Ministry of Tourism has issued at least 135 permits to foreign mountaineers o climb Manaslu. Assuming that there will be on average one local Climbing Sherpa per one climber from abroad and some latecomers, probably between 300 and 400 people – including kitchen staff – will be arguing for the best pitches in the base camp. And the normal route via the north-east flank of the mountain might become crowded.

Date

7. September 2017 | 9:35

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Dominik Mueller on Everest: “It was perfect”

Dominik Mueller on Everest (© www-third-pole.com)

While for many climbers the decisive phase on the highest mountain on earth has begun right now, Dominik Mueller is already packing his bags. As reported before, the German expedition leader reached the 8850-meter-high summit of Mount Everest from the Tibetan north-side on Tuesday, as well as one of his clients. Two other members of his team turned around at 8,550 respectively 8,600 meters. “All are fine, not even a single wound,” says Dominik when I reach the 46-year-old head of the expedition operator Amical alpine via satellite telephone in the Advanced Base Camp at 6,300 meters.

Dominik, first of all congratulations. How was the weather and the conditions on the mountain during your ascent?

Date

18. May 2017 | 16:50

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Summit, summit, summit …

Dominik Mueller on Everest

There’s been a hail of success reports from Nepal. Especially from Mount Everest. Dozens of climbers reached the summit at 8,850 meters from both the Tibetan north side and the Nepalese south side. Among them was the Romanian Horia Colibasanu, the first mountaineer to have climbed Everest this spring without bottled oxygen. “It was very, very hard and very, very cold,” the 40-year-old informed on Facebook. For Colibasanu it was the eighth eight-thousander. He ascended from the north, as did the German expedition leader Dominik Mueller. The 46-year-old head of the operator Amical alpin reached the summit along with a client, both of them used bottle oxygen.

Date

16. May 2017 | 14:08

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Dominik Mueller: “There will be more climbers on Everest”

North side of Everest in the last daylight

It could be a record season on Mount Everest. After the successful 2016 season, experts are expecting a run on the highest mountain on earth – especially since many climbers want to use their extended permits from 2014 (valid until 2019) and from 2015 (which will run out this year). In 2014, the season in Nepal had been finished prematurely after an avalanche accident in the Khumbu Icefall with 16 deaths. In 2015, there had been no ascents on both sides of the mountain due to the devastating earthquake in Nepal.

Dominik Mueller, head of the German expedition operator Amical alpin, will set off to Everest with a “small but strong team” on 8 April. Three clients, four Climbing Sherpas and he himself will try to reach the 8,850-meter-high summit via the normal route on the Tibetan north side. “I will use bottled oxygen because I believe that I can only support other people as best as possible when using a breathing mask,” says the 46-year-old. “Anyone who climbs Everest without supplemental oxygen is so preoccupied with himself that he probably has no resources left to look after others.” I talked to him about the upcoming season.

Dominik, with what expectations do you set off to the Himalayas?

Date

18. March 2017 | 15:44

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The end of Everest adventure?

Tibetan North side of Mount Everest

Tibetan North side of Mount Everest

Twelve footfall pitches. That’s the size of the new mountaineering center, which the Chinese want to build on the Tibetan side of Mount Everest. According to the state newspaper “China Daily” the giant complex in the town of Gangkar, also known as Old Tingri, by the year 2019 is to be completed in 2019. The site is located about 60 kilometers northwest of Everest, on the travel route of expeditions that head to the highest mountain on earth.  According to the “China Daily”, the mountaineering center will cost more than 100 million yuan (13.7 million euros). Accomodation and restaurants for mountaineers are planned, furthermore a helicopter rescue base, offices for expedition operators, repair shops for cars, motorcycles and bicycles as well as a mountaineering museum. The mountaineering scene is discussing the project on social media. Some see no less than the downfall of adventure on Everest.  The Everest north side “will turn into a Chinese Disneyland,” says one. Another believes that a chair lift to the summit is only a matter of time. Dominik Mueller, head of German expedition operator Amical Alpin, doesn’t see why there should be outrage.

Date

30. November 2016 | 19:29

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Mysterious death of two Sherpas on Makalu

Makalu

Makalu

How could that happen? Two Sherpa mountain guides who were working for an expedition of the German operator Amical alpin died in Camp 2 at 6,700 m during a summit attempt on the eight-thousander Makalu. Other group members found the two Sherpas lifeless in their tent in the afternoon. “We can only speculate,” Dominik Mueller, head of Amical, tells me. “We suspect that they cooked in their closed tent without providing adequate ventilation and then died of carbon monoxide poisoning.”

Date

11. May 2016 | 14:55

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No prospect of spring fever in Nepal

Much in demand: firewood for cooking and heating

Much in demand: firewood for cooking and heating

If there is a season, which stands for optimism, it’s spring: Winter is leaving, it’s getting warmer, brighter, more colorful. This may entice people painting the world more beautiful than it is soberly assessed. Also the people in Nepal long for spring, in the hope of better times. 2015 was a bad year for the country. First the devastating earthquake in spring that killed according to official figures more than 8800 people. And were this not bad enough, the blockade of the border to India, now continuing for almost four months. There is still no sign of spring fever in Nepal.

Date

13. January 2016 | 17:39

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Successes in a row on Manaslu

Manaslu, "Mountain of the Spirit"

Manaslu, “Mountain of the Spirit”

The success stories from the eighth highest mountain on earth are piling up. On Wednesday and Thursday at least 76 climbers reached the 8,156-meter-high summit of Manaslu, said the Himalayan Times”. The Nepalese operator Seven Summits Treks reported about 50 summit successes of their clients and Sherpas alone. On Friday Dominik Mueller, head of the German expedition operator Amical Alpin, reached the highest point of Manaslu too.

Date

2. October 2015 | 10:15

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15 climbers on top of Manaslu

Manaslu (l.) and Pinnacle East (r.)

Manaslu (l.) and Pinnacle East (r.)

This year’s first summit successes on Manaslu are reported: Chhang Dawa Sherpa, head of the Nepalese operator Seven Summit Treks, said that nine foreign mountaineers and six Climbing Sherpas summited the eighth highest mountain on earth this morning. More teams are on the way up and plan to reach the highest point at 8,156 meters on Thursday or Friday. Dan Mazur from Summit Climb tweeted from Camp 4 at 7,450 meters announcing to climb towards the summit tonight. Rainer Pircher from Amical alpin is in Camp 4 too. Dominik Mueller, head of Amical, and his clients are spending the night at Camp 3 at 6,800 meters and want to climb up to Camp 4 on Thursday.

Date

30. September 2015 | 18:37

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