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Slovenian-British trio succeeds coup on 7000er Latok I

Luka Strazar, Tom Livingstone, Ales Cesen (from l. to r.)

It is one of this year’s most spectacular successes on the highest mountains in the world: The two Slovenians Ales Cesen (36 years old) and Luka Strazar (29) and the British Tom Livingstone (27) managed the only second ascent of the 7,145-meter-high, extremely difficult Latok I in the Karakoram – the first ascent from the north side at all. Since the legendary first attempt in 1978 by the Americans Jeff and George Henry Lowe, Michael Kennedy and Jim Donini via the North Ridge, who were forced back by a storm about 150 meters below the summit, this task had been a too hard nut to crack for about 30 expeditions. ”The ridge itself remains a challenge for the future,” said Tom Livingstone modestly in an interview with the British Mountaineering Council (BMC).

Date

22. August 2018 | 22:47

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Thomas Huber before his expedition to 7000er Latok I: “Complex and difficult”

Thomas Huber, Rainer Treppte and Simon Gietl (from l. to r.)

Thomas Huber is sitting on packed expedition barrels. “I’m really looking forward to the expedition,” says the 51-year-old. The older of the two Huber brothers is leaving for Pakistan this Saturday. Thomas wants to tackle the northern side of the 7,145-meter-high Latok I – together with 33-year-old South Tyrolean Simon Gietl and climbing old hand Rainer Treppte, aged 59, who comes from Saxony and has been living in the Allgäu region for a long time. “I have already climbed with them,” says Huber about his two climbing partners. Last spring, the trio succeeded in repeating for the first time the difficult “La Strada” route on the Cima Grande in the Dolomites, which the Poles Piotr Edelman and Jan Fialkowski had mastered for the first time in 1988. “We harmonize very well as a team, and we have every chance to tackle such a goal as Latok I,” says Thomas Huber. I also talked to him about the drama on this seven-thousander in the Karakoram that had kept us in suspense for days.

Thomas, yesterday we got the relieving message that the Russian climber Alexander Gukov was rescued from the North Ridge of Latok I. How did you experience this dramatic story?

Date

1. August 2018 | 19:57

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Drama on the 7000er Latok I in Pakistan

Gukov’s position on the North Ridge of Latok I (see arrow)

Fingers crossed for Alexander Gukov! According to Anna Piunova from the website mountain.ru, the 42-year-old Russian climber is trapped at 6,200 meters on the North Ridge of the 7145-meter-high Latok I in the Karakoram. Gukov made an emergency call on Wednesday:  “I need help. I need to be evacuated. I’m hanging in the wall without equipment.” His 26-year-old climbing partner Sergey Glazunov fell to his death while abseiling, said Alexander.

Date

26. July 2018 | 21:49

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Before Kibo expedition: Into artificial altitude

Hypoxia training at home for Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro is calling. In three weeks I will set off for the highest mountain in Africa. Of course I want to reach the summit at 5,895 meters. But that’s not the only reason for the “Kilimanjaro Summit Challenge”. The other 23 expedition members and I will also participate in a research project of the Philipps University Marburg on altitude sickness. The doctors who will accompany us will take blood samples and examine us daily. Also psychological tests are planned. The risk of suffering from high altitude sickness on Mount Kilimanjaro is quite high. Finally, the summit aspirants overcome an altitude difference of more than 4,000 meters in just a few days. About 70 percent of the Kibo tourists say they suffered from symptoms of acute altitude sickness.

Breathing thin air at home

Immediately after training: oxygen saturation 87 percent, five minutes later 98 percent again

I live in Cologne at about 50 meters above sea level, the Alps are about 600 kilometers away. So I miss the opportunity to just climb a mountain and breathe thin air. Even before my previous expeditions, I had good experiences with hypoxia training, back then in special gyms. Now there is a generator in my home, which I can specifically use to filter out a part of the oxygen from the air. Through a mask I inhale the oxygen-poor air thus simulating a higher altitude. So I am not only able to breathe thin air during training and at rest, but even sleep in a special small tent in “high altitude”.

Thomas Huber, Jost Kobusch …

Date

28. January 2018 | 0:06

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Spectacular first ascent on Cerro Kishtwar

In the Northwest Face

In the pictures, it almost seems like they were climbing on the legendary granite walls of El Capitan – were it not for the snow and the chilled faces. In mid-October, the two Swiss Stephan Siegrist and Julian Zanker and the German Thomas Huber first climbed the central Northwest Face of the 6,150-meter-high Cerro Kishtwar in the Indian part of the crisis region Kashmir. The three top climbers needed two attempts before reaching the summit on 14 October. It was only the fourth ascent of the remote mountain. Overall, the trio spent ten days in the extremely steep, partially overhanging wall – three days on the first attempt, seven on their successful second one.

Date

10. November 2017 | 9:48

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Honnold: “The biggest inspiration in my whole life”

Alex Honnold

At the latest since today, Alex Honnold knows what is the opposite of free solo: The “Press Walk” of the International Mountain Summit. The 32-year-old can neither move freely nor is he alone. On the Plose, the home mountain of Bressanone in South Tyrol, about sixty reporters, camera men and photographers are bustling around the American top climber. “Crazy,” says the 32-year-old with a smile in his face. Since 3 June, his name resounds not only throughout insiders of the climbing scene but worldwide. On that day he pushed into a new dimension. Alex succeeded the first free solo – means climbing alone and without any rope – through the legendary 900-meter-high granite wall of El Capitan in the Yosemite Valley. He climbed via the route “Freerider”, which had been opened by Alexander Huber in 1995 and had been free climbed for the first time by Alexander and his brother Thomas in 1998. For comparison, the ascent with ropes for belaying had taken the Huber brothers more than 15 hours.

Modern nomad

Up for every fun

Alex Honnold does not correspond to the stereotype of an extreme climber. He wears his hair short, does not drink alcohol, does not smoke and is a vegetarian. For many years he has been living as a modern nomad, quite modest in a mobile home which he uses to drive from rock wall to rock wall. For five years, he has been supporting with his foundation environmental projects around the world. Despite his coup on the El Capitan, he does not show any airs and graces.

Already during the ascent to the mountain restaurant Rossalm, where the organizers of the IMS have scheduled a press conference with Honnold, I manage to ask Alex some questions – according to the motto “walk and talk”. 😉

Alexander and Thomas Huber as well as Tommy Caldwell compared your free solo on El Capitan with the first moon landing. How did you personally feel after having completed your project?

Date

14. October 2017 | 18:07

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Exciting attempt on Cerro Kishtwar

The West Face of Cerro Kishtwar (© Stefan Schlumpf)

They have been on the road for the last three weeks and are expected to have meanwhile arrived at the destination of their expedition. The Swiss climbers Stephan Siegrist and Julian Zanker and the German Thomas Huber want to tackle the still not mastered West Face of the 6155-meter-high Cerro Kishtwar. The mountain, located in the Indian part of the crisis region Kashmir, has been scaled only three times so far. In 1993, the British Mick Fowler and the American Steve Susted succeeded the first ascent via the Northwest Face. In 2011, Siegrist, his Swiss countryman Denis Burdet and the Austrian David Lama reached the summit of Cerro Kishtwar as the second rope team, after opening a new route on the edge of the West Face. The third ascent was made in 2015 by the Slovenes Marko Prezelj and Urban Novak, the American Hayden Kennedy and the Frenchman Manu Pellisier. They were awarded the Piolet d’Or, the “Oscar of the Climbers”, for their first ascend of the South Face.

Date

27. September 2017 | 16:33

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Red carpet for Jeff Lowe

Thomas Huber at the ISPO

Thomas Huber at the ISPO

Thomas Huber radiates pure joie de vivre. “I’m doing well, more than in a long time,” says the 50-year-old German top climber, as we meet at the ISPO sporting goods trade fair in Munich. On 30 December, the older of the two Huber brothers had provided another highlight of his career: Along with the Swiss climbers Stephan Siegrist and Roger Schaeli, Thomas succeeded the second ascent of the legendary route “Metanoia” in the centre of the Eiger North Face: “How can a year end better? I have just taken this flow with me,” enthuses Huber.

Date

9. February 2017 | 16:59

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Ondra’s “Dawn Wall” coup: “Brilliant”

Adam Ondra cheered after his success

Adam Ondra cheered after his success

What a hotshot! The 23-year-old Czech Adam Ondra succeeded his free climb through the mostly vertical, partly overhanging “Dawn Wall” in the granite of El Capitan within only eight days. It was the only second free ascent of the rock route, which is regarded as the most difficult in the world. At the beginning of 2015, the Americans Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson had “freed” the “Dawn Wall” after 19 days in the approximately 900-meter-high wall, a milestone of climbing history. They had been preparing for it for more than seven years. Ondra spent just two and a half weeks on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Kevin Jorgeson finds the success of the young Czech “totally badass”, as he wrote to the magazine “Rock and Ice”: “For Tommy and I, the question was whether it was even possible. We left lots of room to improve the style and Adam did just that! Super impressive that he was able to adapt to the Dawn Wall’s unique style and sort out so many complex sequences so quickly.” The German climbing scene is also thrilled.

Date

23. November 2016 | 17:41

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Thomas Huber: “The crux is not the wall, but the man”

Latok I (2nd summit f.l.)

Latok I (2nd mountain f.l.)

A footballer would say: The ball wasn’t round. “The expedition has definitely run roughly,” Thomas Huber tells me about his trip to Latok I in Pakistan. As reported, the older of the two Huber brothers, along with German climbers Toni Gutsch and Sebastian Brutscher, had planned to tackle the north side of the 7145-meter-high granite giant in Karakoram this fall –only a few weeks after his 16-meter-fall from a rock face and a subsequent brain surgery. So the unbalance of the expedition began. “We could not get together as a team because I was so busy with my situation after the fall and the head injury,” Thomas concedes. “Nevertheless the motivation was high, and from my point of view the team fit perfectly. We maintained this euphoria, to Skardu, to Askole, to our Base Camp on the Choktoi Glacier. When we got there, everyone agreed: This is the place per se for climbing in highest perfection. But then everything ran differently.”

Date

26. October 2016 | 12:03

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Mourning for US climbers Dempster and Adamson

Kyle Dempster (l.) and Scott Adamson

Kyle Dempster (l.) and Scott Adamson

Thomas Huber‘s new Karakoram adventure began with a rescue mission. The German top climber’s exact local knowledge on the Ogre (also called Baintha Brakk) was in demand. About a week ago (I report on it only now because I was on holiday in the Alps at that time) the 49-year-old was picked up by a Pakistani rescue helicopter to search along with the crew for the missing Kyle Dempster and Scott Adamson. In vain. No sign of the Americans. In the end the search was canceled because there was no more hope of finding them alive.

Date

13. September 2016 | 9:50

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Thomas Huber: “I’ll travel with a laughing heart”

Thomas Huber will set off again

Thomas Huber will set off again

Incredible – that describes Thomas Huber’s current life quite aptly. No wonder that the 49-year-old German top climber uses this word very often when we talk on the phone. Thomas was, as he himself says, “incredibly lucky” when he survived his 16-meter-fall from a rock face on 5 July. He recovered so “incredibly fast” that he – as initially planned before his fall – will shortly go “with incredible joy” on expedition to Pakistan. Truly incredible! The aim of the travel is the north side of the 7,145-meter-high granite giant Latok I in the Karakoram. Huber’s team includes Toni Gutsch – who, in 1997, first climbed the West Face of Latok II (7108 m) along with the Huber brothers and US climber Conrad Anker – and Sebastian Brutscher.

Date

13. August 2016 | 9:17

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Sport climbing becomes Olympic – joy and concerns

climbing-olympicsI haven’t yet Olympic rings under my eyes. But that will surely change in the next two weeks because of the time difference between Rio de Janeiro and here. But when the next summer games are pending in four years in Tokyo, again in a different time zone, there will be an additional reason to change the daily habits: Sport climbing becomes Olympic in 2020. This was decided by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). “I think, it’s absolutely cool,” tells me German top climber Thomas Huber. “We have to be open to it. Sport climbing is worthy of being included in the Olympic program, because the competition has developed positively.” The IOC decision could send a signal to young people.

Date

5. August 2016 | 16:45

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Thomas Huber: “Thanks for staying alive!”

Thomas Huber (in 2014)

Thomas Huber (in 2014)

Approximately 1.8 seconds. That was the time it took when Thomas Huber fell 16 meters deep from a rock face on the Brendlberg in the Berchtesgaden region in Bavaria – now two weeks ago. As previously reported, the 49-year-old German top climber, the older of the two Huber brothers, landed on soft forest floor. As it turned out later, Thomas suffered a skull fracture and had to undergo surgery immediately. The doctor’s reassuring prognosis afterwards: no permanent damage. Meanwhile, Thomas has left the hospital and is recovering at home. I have phoned him.

Thomas, first things first: How are you?

Date

19. July 2016 | 23:24

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Thomas Huber is on the mend

Thomas Huber is on his feet again

Thomas Huber is on his feet again

“I already feel a lot better again,” Thomas Huber writes to me from the hospital in the Bavarian town of Traunstein. If that’s not good news! After all, the 49-year-old German top climber – as reported yesterday – had fallen twelve meters deep from a rock face on the Brendlberg near the village of Scheffau. According to the German website bgland24.de, the accident happened when Huber was abseiling. Thomas was standing on a small ledge, unclipped from the belay to take another rope, when he lost his balance. This could have ended in catastrophe. Probably owing only to “1000 guardian angels” (Thomas) and his instinct, nothing worse happened to him.

Date

9. July 2016 | 17:19

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