Mourning for American mountaineering legend Ed Webster

Ed Webster (1956-2022)

Ed Webster stands for one of the greatest adventures of all time on the highest mountain on earth. “Our new line up Everest was his idea,” writes British climber Stephen Venables following the death of his former teammate and friend. Webster died last weekend at the age of 66 after suffering a heart attack. The sudden death of the legendary American climber was “a huge shock,” Venables writes adding that Ed had been “a brilliant pioneer rock climber.”

In summer 1986, Webster opened a new route through the southeast flank of the 7,543-meter-high Changtse, located just north of Mount Everest – solo, without bottled oxygen. However, this was only the overture for the great coup two years later. In 1988 on Everest, Webster and Venables, together with Canadian Paul Teane and American Robert Anderson, achieved a milestone of mountaineering in the Himalayas. “The best ascent of Everest in terms and style of pure adventure,” Reinhold Messner later called Webster and Co.’s project.

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Last friendship service for Matthew Eakin

Matthew Eakin
Matthew Eakin (1981-2022)

Not only was he a mountain enthusiast, but he had exceptional charisma. “Anyone who had the pleasure to spend even a few minutes with Matthew Eakin would no doubt come away with a renewed zest for life. A guy that constantly gave his time to others,” Australian adventure photographer and cameraman Rob Norman wrote of his friend Eakin after the 41-year-old fell to his death on 25 July while descending K2. “He lived the life he wanted, wore his heart on his sleeve, made the most out of this precious life we have and always did it with a smile his face.” Similarly, Cassie Davies, also a friend of Eakin’s, wrote: “He was a magnet that attracted people to him. He encouraged many of us to try things, just to dare, to put the investment in and make our dreams real.”

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When mountaineering becomes an addiction

Snow ridge on Kokodak Dome
The mountain calls and we come

Do you feel the same way as me? When I surf around on Facebook, I’m constantly being offered some kind of sweater or T-shirt with the inscription “mountain addict” in sponsored posts. The reason is obvious: because of my posts, Mark Zuckerberg and co. have recognized my passion for mountains and sorted me into the appropriate pigeonhole. Scientists at the Medical University of Innsbruck in Austria have found out that “mountain addiction” is not just a cheap advertising slogan, but a real phenomenon. “Our approach was that one can also experience feelings of reward and happiness when climbing mountains just as one does when playing games, for example. We asked ourselves how great the addiction potential is in mountain sports,” psychiatrist and neurologist Katharina Hüfner tells me.

The 46-year-old professor led the study at the University of Innsbruck. For this purpose, a survey was launched in the German-speaking mountain scene. People who describe themselves as “regular” or even “extreme” mountaineers were invited. 335 people took part. 88 of them – a quarter of the respondents – were subsequently classified as mountain addicts.

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Permits for eight-thousanders in Tibet in spring 2023?

Pasdawa Sherpa, Kristin Harila and Ongju Sherpa
After twelve eight-thousanders, Pasdawa Sherpa, Kristin Harila and Ongju Sherpa (from left to right) had to stop for the time being

The Chinese-Tibetan authorities have remained firm. Unlike in 2019 with the Nepali star mountaineer Nirmal Purja, they made no exception this time for the Norwegian eight-thousander chaser Kristin Harila and her Nepali guides Dawa Ongju Sherpa and Pasdawa Sherpa. Since April, the trio had summited twelve of the 14 eight-thousanders – like Purja with bottled oxygen, on the normal routes and with the use of helicopters to get from base camp to base camp. Only Shishapangma and Cho Oyu were still missing to complete the collection in record time.

But the normal routes of these two eight-thousanders are located in Tibet. And China has not issued permits to foreign climbers since the corona pandemic began in 2020. “We have left no stone unturned in this process, and have exhausted every possible avenue to make this happen,” Harila wrote on Instagram when she called off her eight-thousander hunt late last week. “But unfortunately due to reasons out of our control we were unable to get the permits in time.”

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