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Sherpa dies in avalanche on Dhaulagiri

R.I.P.

Tragic incident on the eight-thousander Dhaulagiri in western Nepal: Yesterday an avalanche hit a seven-man Sherpa team of the operator “Seven Summit Treks”, who were fixing ropes between Camp 2 (6,400 m) and Camp 3 (7,400 m). “Six (Sherpas) survived the avalanche unharmed, but the only 24-year-old Dawa Gyaljen, born near (the eight-thousander) Makalu, is missed,” Spaniard Luis Miguel Lopez Soriano wrote on Facebook. Luis accompanies his 79-year-old friend Carlos Soria, who this fall is trying for the tenth and, in his own words, probably last time to scale Dhaulagiri. The 8,167-meter-high mountain and Shishapangma (8,027 m) are the last two eight-thousanders still missing from Carlos’s collection.

Date

20. September 2018 | 18:38

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Climber dies in avalanche in Pakistan

Rescue on 7000er

An Austrian climber was killed in an avalanche accident on the 7,338-meter-high Ultar Sar in the Karakoram. Christian Huber died on Friday when the snow masses hit the tent he and his team-mates Bruce Normand and Timothy Miller had pitched on a ridge at an altitude of 5,800 meters. The two uninjured British and the body of Huber were taken from the mountain this Sunday by a rescue helicopter of the Pakistani army. An army spokesman said it was a “daring mission”. The first emergency call had been received on Saturday morning. Bad weather had prevented the helicopter from taking off earlier.

Date

1. July 2018 | 20:38

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Avalanche on K 2

K 2 Base Camp

With this monarch is not to be joked. K 2, the “king of the eight-thousanders”, is moody and therefore dangerous. “This morning at 8:12 am, we saw (a) big avalanche coming from (the) Abruzzi route,” Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, head of the Nepalese expedition operator Dreamers Destination, writes on Facebook. The Abruzzi route, following the path of the Italian first ascenders in 1954, leads via the Southeast Ridge of the mountain (look at the picture below, route F). “We feel all (that) Camp 3 (at about 7,300 m) is swept away again. I am sure we have all our deposit near Camp 4 because our Sherpa team made it on (a) ice cliff, but it is likely sure that all the fixed ropes are washed away.” Tomorrow his Sherpa team will go up again to assess the situation.

Date

14. July 2017 | 14:41

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Same route as in the accident year 2014

Route through the Khumbu Icefall (on the right) in the two past years and that of 2014 (left)

Has the memory of the Everest tragedy in 2014 faded so quickly? According to the Kathmandu-based newspaper “The Himalayan Times”, the “Icefall Doctors” have relocated the route through the Khumbu Icefall for the upcoming season to the left side of the ice labyrinth, just below the ice-loaded West Shoulder. On 18 April 2014, an ice avalanche had swept down from there and killed 16 Nepalese climbers. In spring 2015 (this season also ended prematurely due to the devastating earthquake in Nepal) and in 2016 too, the Sherpas, who were responsible for securing and maintaining the route through the Icefall, had chosen a variant on the right side.

Date

4. April 2017 | 16:35

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Shishapangma, the last take!

Shishapangma

Shishapangma

A chewing gum is not getting better by chewing it endlessly. There must come a time to spit it out. Stories are a similar ballgame. At a certain moment everything has been devoured a 1000 times. Then you should have the courage to draw a line under it before it becomes a never ending story, which is still only annoying. This will be my last blog post on the avalanche on Shishapangma which happened on next Saturday, exactly two years ago. Maybe not yet everything is said, but in my view it’s enough to close the chapter – and hopefully learn from it.

Date

22. September 2016 | 15:41

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Controversy over avalanche on Shishapangma

Advanced Base Camp on Shishapangma

Advanced Base Camp on Shishapangma

24 September 2014, 6.55 a.m.: Five men are climbing at 7,900 meters towards the summit of the eight-thousander Shishapangma when the avalanche releases. The Germans Sebastian Haag and Martin Maier and Italian Andrea Zambaldi are swept several hundred meters down the slope. German Benedikt Boehm and Swiss Ueli Steck have a lucky escape and get away from the snow masses. The 36-year-old Haag and the 32-year-old Zambaldi die. Maier miraculously survives and is able to escape by his own strength to the high camp. The news of the incident first appears in my blog. The first interviews about the avalanche with Bene Boehm and Martin Maier can also be read on “Adventure Sports”.

“Time does not heal everything”

More than one and a half year later, Martin has opened up a debate on the incident by giving an interview to the German magazine “Bergsteiger”. The 41-year-old industrial engineer is in his own words still suffering from long-term effects which are not only health problems: “Time does not heal everything – neither injuries that have remained to this day nor the sadness and bitterness about the fact that people want to increase their self-esteem at the expense of others.” Maier accuses the other two survivors of the avalanche, Boehm and Steck, of not having told the truth and of having abandoned him too quickly.

Date

12. July 2016 | 21:25

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Checkmate at Annapurna summit

Jost Kobusch in Annapurna Base Camp

Jost Kobusch in Annapurna Base Camp

It sounds like an April fool’s joke with a month’s delay. Before the German Jost Kobuschas reported – reached the 8,091 meter-high summit of Annapurna on 1 May, he, according to his own words, played a game of chess against the Israeli climber Nadav Ben-Yehuda just below the highest point. “We had previously played at least two games every day at Base Camp during the periods of bad weather,” says Jost. So the idea of a chess duel at the top was born. Nadav, who used bottled oxygen, reached the highest point just before Jost, who climbed without breathing mask. “When we met just below the summit, I said to him: Wait! We still have to play a game of chess,” the 23-year-old German tells me. “We played on my smartphone, 20 meters below the summit.”

Date

13. May 2016 | 19:29

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After 16 ½ years: Alex Lowe’s body found

Alex Lowe in 1995 (l., along with Conrad Anker)

Alex Lowe in 1995 (l., with Conrad Anker)

Glaciers are constantly moving. And so they spit out one day what they once swallowed. Climate change, which makes glaciers melt faster, is speeding up the process. In recent years there have been more and more reports from around the world that bodies of dead climbers were discovered after many years. Whether on Mont Blanc, on the Matterhorn, on Mount Everest – or now on the eight-thousander Shishapangma in Tibet. The Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation announced that Swiss Ueli Steck and German David Goettler had discovered the bodies of two climbers in blue ice during their acclimatization for Shishapangma South Face. The melting glacier would release the corpses soon. The description of clothes and packs left no doubt that it was the bodies of Alex Lowe and David Bridges, it was said.

Date

2. May 2016 | 15:48

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Helicopter transport flights to Everest high camps

Helicopter starting from the airstrip Syangboche above Namche Bazaar

Helicopter starting from the airstrip Syangboche above Namche Bazaar

Time does not stand still, even in Khumbu. Two things have changed dramatically in the region around Mount Everest between my first visit in 2002 and my second last March. Firstly, the sanitary facilities – on average – have become much more modern and cleaner than 14 years ago. Secondly, the aircraft noise has increased significantly. On a clear day, helicopters are flying – as I felt, steadily – through the valley from Lukla to Namche Bazaar and also further up towards Everest Base Camp.

Date

23. April 2016 | 12:17

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Ten popular Everest errors

Mount Everest

Mount Everest

The Everest spring season is gaining momentum. The Base Camp on the Nepalese side of Mount Everest is filling. According to the government in Kathmandu, 279 climbers from 38 countries have registered for the highest mountain on earth. The Icefall Doctors have meanwhile prepared the route all the way up to Camp 2 at 6,400 meters. The teams who want to climb Everest from the Tibetan north side, have also received now their permits from the Chinese authorities and are heading to Tibet. It’s going to kick off there too. Before the media Everest season begins, I would like to correct some reoccurring errors.

Date

13. April 2016 | 12:47

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Dorje’s Everest sabbatical

Dorje Sherpa in front of his lodge in Phakding

Dorje Sherpa in front of his lodge in Phakding

Dorje Sherpa is familiar with Everest disasters. In 1996, 20 years ago, he reached the summit of the highest mountain on earth for the first time. Then he belonged to the IMAX film team of the American David Breashears, when a storm in the summit area killed eight climbers within 24 hours. “We were then in Camp 2 at 6,400 meters”, the 50-year-old tells me in his “Buddha Lodge” in the village of Phakding, which lies on the popular trekking route to Everest Base Camp.

Date

16. March 2016 | 13:08

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The tireless weatherman

Charly Gabl

Charly Gabl

“I’m retired, but not tired or unhappy”, says Karl, called “Charly” Gabl. “You should not slow down from hundred to one. As on the road, that would be fatal.” Four years ago, the Austrian meteorologist retired, but the 68-year-old weatherman is still advising many professional climbers during their expeditions in the Himalayas or Karakoram. “I’m doing this voluntarily. For example last summer, I advised the Huber brothers on Latok I where they did not succeed due to the warm weather and were almost killed by an ice avalanche”, Gabl told me when I met him at the Alpine Trade Fair in Innsbruck last weekend.

Date

12. November 2015 | 9:36

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Habeler: “Go to Nepal – but not all to Everest!”

Peter Habeler

Peter Habeler in the German town of Leverkusen

You would not estimate that Peter Habeler has really 73 years under his belt. Slim, wiry, tanned – just one who is still climbing mountains. Along with friends, he is currently repeating many routes in the Alps that he climbed when he was young, the Austrian told me when I met him at a mountaineers’ event in Leverkusen near my hometown Cologne last weekend: “Thankfully, I feel physically very well. But it’s going round in circles: If you train and climb a lot, you’re just in better physical shape.” Even 37 years after Habeler climbed Mount Everest along with Reinhold Messner for the first time without bottled oxygen, the highest mountain on earth is always in his mind – of course also due to the fact that he as a pioneer is questioned on Everest again and again.

Date

28. October 2015 | 17:12

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Avalanche on Dôme de Neige kills seven climbers

Dôme de Neige (r.)

Dôme de Neige (r.)

Seven climbers have lost their lives in an avalanche in the French Alps today. The incident happened on the 4015-meter-high Dôme de Neige in the Écrins massif southeast of Grenoble. The French authorities said that four Germans and three Czechs died in the avalanche. Another injured female climber from Germany was rescued. It is said that three rope teams were hit by the snow masses. According to the rescuers, the 250-meter-long avalanche was likely triggered when a snow slab separated and hurtled down the slope. Last weekend it had heavily snowed in the region. “The conditions are winter-like at the moment“, a policeman said. At least 39 people have died in snowslides this year in France, according to the National Association for the Study of Snow and Avalanches.

Date

15. September 2015 | 16:48

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Dawa Steven Sherpa: “Ke garne! We carry on!”

Dawa Steven Sherpa

Dawa Steven Sherpa

There is a jinx on it. Two spring seasons on Everest in a row remained without summit successes (I ignore those of the Wang Jing team in 2014 because they were flown by helicopter to the high camp). In 2014, all commercial expeditions were cancelled after an avalanche had killed 16 Nepalese climbers in Khumbu Icefall. This year, the devastating earthquake in Nepal triggered an avalanche from the seven-thousander Pumori hitting Everest Base Camp and killing 19 mountaineers and support staff. Once again the spring season ended before it had really begun. What does this mean for the Sherpa people?

I called Dawa Steven Sherpa. Along with his father Ang Tshering Sherpa, the president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA), the 31-year-old is managing “Asian Trekking”, a Kathmandu-based leading operator for expeditions and trekkings in the Himalayas. Dawa Steven scaled Everest twice (in 2007 and 2008) and in addition the eight-thousanders Cho Oyu (2006) and Lhotse (2009). Under his expedition leadership more than 150 climbers have summited Everest. But Dawa Steven is also a tireless fighter for environmental and climate protection in the Himalayas. Furthermore he is leading “Resilient Homes”  , a project of the “Himalayan Climate Initiative” to help earthquake-affected communities to rebuild their houses and other buildings – one more reason to talk to him about the current situation in Nepal.

Date

9. September 2015 | 14:45

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