Summit successes reported from Dhaulagiri

The 8,167-meter-high Dhaulagiri in western Nepal

As the commercial climbing season on fall “fashion” eight-thousander Manaslu in western Nepal draws to a close, the first summit successes are being reported from Dhaulagiri, not far away. According to the Nepalese operator Seven Summit Treks, at least 13 members of theirs team reached the summit at 8,167 meters today.

Among them, in addition to the Sherpas who fixed the ropes to the highest point, was also (with bottled oxygen) the founder of the company, Mingma Sherpa. This means that Mingma has now undoubtedly reached all the “True Summits” of the eight-thousanders, SST announced. The now 45-year-old, celebrated in 2011 as the first Nepalese on all 14 eight-thousanders, had also scaled Manaslu again nine days ago to make up for not having stood on the very highest point before.

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Pioneer and mentor: Marko Prezelj receives the Paul Preuss Prize

Marko Prezelj
Marko Prezelj

Actually, Marko Prejelj is a skeptic when it comes to climbers being awarded. “Basically it’s impossible to compare any climbs, because every climb has a different emotion,” the Slovenian told me in Chamonix in 2015 at the award ceremony for the Piolet d’Or, the “Oscar of climbers”. “It’s bizarre. It’s like you are making love and making an article out of it. If it’s poetry, maybe it’s okay. But it is a thin line between romantic poetry and pornography.”

If it goes by that, Marko is a great poet of the mountains. It’s not for nothing that – despite his aversion to prizes – he was the first mountaineer to be awarded the Piolet d’Or four times: in 1992, 2007, 2015 and 2016. Apart from him, only the Briton Paul Ramsden has managed this so far.

This Saturday, Prezelj will receive another trophy, the prestigious Paul Preuss Prize, at Reinhold Messner’s Mountain Museum at Sigmundskron Castle near Bolzano. The award has been presented for ten years to “extreme mountaineers or climbers who, in the course of their entire mountaineering development, have not only shown outstanding achievements in the mountains, but have also dedicated themselves to free climbing in the spirit of Paul Preuss’ philosophy with the renunciation of technical ascending gear,” the international Paul Preuss Society lets it be known. The jury is formed by the honorary chairman Messner, last year’s laureate (in the current case Thomas Huber, who was awarded in 2022) and five other members of the society. It is not a “current peak performance” that counts, but the “mountaineering life’s work,” the society emphasizes.

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Everest ski descent via Hornbein Couloir?

The Tibetan north side of Mount Everest (in 2005)
The Tibetan North Face of Mount Everest (in 2005)

Fall projects on Mount Everest, once commonplace, have become rare. Because of the often rather bad weather, commercial expeditions give the highest mountain on earth a wide berth in the post-monsoon season, concentrating instead on Manaslu in western Nepal or the eight-thousanders Cho Oyu and Shishapanga in Tibet – provided the Chinese-Tibetan authorities clear these mountains.

In fall 2022, a Polish team led by ski mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel had attempted the Nepalese south side of Everest. Bargiel, who wanted to climb to the summit without bottled oxygen and ski down to base camp, and his companion Janusz Golab had aborted their summit attempt at the South Col at almost 8,000 meters. They had been greeted by such violent gusts of wind that they had not even been able to pitch their tent.

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Summit successes of commercial teams on Manaslu

Manaslu in the first dailight
Manaslu (in 2007)

The first summit successes of the eight-thousander fall season are reported from Manaslu. Yesterday, Tuesday, a team of the operator Elite Exped reached the summit. The head of the company, Nepal’s “mountaineering star” Nirmal Purja, sent a video from the “True Summit” at 8,163 meters. In it, “Nims” thanked his “strong team” and announced that he would now travel on to Tibet to guide clients up the eight-thousanders Cho Oyu and Shishapangma.

Today, Wednesday, Nepalese operators Seven Summit Treks (SST) and Imagine Nepal also announced summit successes on Manaslu. For this fall, the government in Kathmandu has so far (as of 15 Sept) sold 301 climbing permits to foreign climbers for the eighth-highest mountain on earth. In fall 2022, it had issued 404 Manaslu permits.

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After drama on Gasherbrum IV: Mourning for Dmitry Golovchenko

Dmitry Golovchenko
Dmitry Golovchenko (1983-2023)

The drama happened on 31 August, on Gasherbrum IV in Pakistan, at 7,684 meters, about 250 meters below the summit. Dmitry Golovchenko and Sergey Nilov had found a small spot on the ridge to pitch their tent for the night. The ground appeared problematic, broken rock covered with ice. The two Russians fixed the tent to a rope loop.

Very quickly, however, they realized that the ground was too sloped, and the tent was in danger of slipping. Sergey climbed out to level the platform and threw Dmitry a safety rope. A short time later, Sergey heard his friend call out, “Seryoga, I’m falling.” Nilov watched the tent with Golovchenko and their gear slide down the slope and disappear into the couloir below.

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Muhammad Hassan’s death on K2: Report renounces for blame

Memorial for the dead from K2, Broad Peak in the background (in 2004).
Memorial for the dead from K2, Broad Peak in the background (in 2004).

Could Muhammad Hassan still be alive today? The report of the commission of inquiry answers this question only indirectly: Yes, the father of three small children could still be alive if he had not been on K2, the second highest mountain in the world, located in Pakistan, on that 27 July. Because he simply didn’t belong there.

It was Hassan’s first eight-thousander expedition, according to the report of the five-member commission appointed by the regional government of Gilgit-Baltistan province after the death of the High Altitude Porter. Before that, Muhammad had only worked as a “Low Altitude Porter” on K2 (8,611 meters) and Spantik (7,027 meters), i.e. he had carried material to the base camps but not up the mountains.

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Drama on Gasherbrum IV

Gasherbrum IV
The 7,932-meter-high Gasherbrum IV in the Karakoram (in 2004)

One of the most spectacular climbs this year probably ended in tragedy. Russian climber Dmitry Golovchenko did not return from the 7,932-meter-high Gasherbrum IV in the Karakoram in Pakistan. Golevchenko collapsed, reports. His rope partner Sergey Nilov returned alone to the base camp, it said adding that Nilov was severely weakened and had suffered frostbite.

What exactly happened to Golovchenko is still unclear. Apparently, however, he did not survive.

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