The first eight-thousander summit successes of the spring season are expected this year on the 8,091-meter-high Annapurna I in western Nepal. The Sherpa team, that is fixing the ropes for the commercial teams, has already secured the normal route almost all the way up to Camp 3 at around 6,400 meters. “We wait for the summit weather window,” announced yesterday Nirmal Purja, head of the operator Elite Exped.
Most teams will probably have already left Annapurna by the time Felix Berg and his Polish teammates Adam Bielecki and Mariusz Hatala arrive at base camp. “Most of them want to go on to Everest, Lhotse, Kangchenjunga or somewhere else afterwards,” Felix tells me on the phone. “After all, it has become fashionable to conquer as many eight-thousanders as possible in a short time by any means possible.”
Lessons are still often held outdoors. But when it rains or the wind is too strong, the new rooms already provide shelter for the school classes. Currently, construction work is at a standstill. They are to be resumed in April, when the weather is more stable again.
It was like so often in Nepal’s politics: For days there is talk about a supposedly upcoming new regulation before there is – if at all – a written confirmation. Such was the case now with the announcement by the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) that trekking tourists traveling alone in the Himalayan state will be required to take a guide from 1 April. Only five days after the first press reports and heated discussions about it in social networks, the NTB confirmed the reform today.
The aim is “to ensure the security and safety of visitors trekking in protected areas in the mountains of Nepal”, it said. If no one is on their own anymore, trekking tourists can be prevented from getting into “adverse incidents,” the NTB lets it be known, citing “getting lost en route, health issues, and/or natural disasters” as examples.
You can’t hear his exhaustion. When I reach Jost Kobusch by phone in Chamonix, the words just gush out of the 30-year-old German climber. Just two weeks ago, Jost succeeded in a solo winter ascent of Denali, via the Messner Couloir, which has never been climbed in winter before. At 6,190 meters, Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley, is the highest mountain in North America and thus one of the Seven Summits. Because of its location in Alaska, high in the north, it is considered one of the coldest mountains in the world.
In recent years, Jost Kobusch had made headlines with his winter attempts on Mount Everest. His goal is to climb the highest mountain on earth solo and without bottled oxygen, via the rarely attempted route via West Ridge and Hornbein Couloir to the summit at 8,849 meters. In the first attempt, he had reached the West Shoulder at a good 7,300 meters in winter 2019/2020. In winter 2021/2022 the end of the line was due to strong winds at just below 6,500 meters.
Their syringes are ropes, their plasters aluminum ladders. Year after year, the so-called Icefall Doctors “doctor” the ascent route through the dangerous Khumbu Icefall, the passage on the way to the summit of Mount Everest with the greatest objective dangers. With their ladders they bridge deep crevasses, with the fixed ropes they secure the route – and then maintain it throughout the season until the end of May. It’s extremely dangerous work, as the icefall is constantly moving and one of the mighty ice towers can collapse at any time.