Next Cho Oyu winter attempt of Gelje Sherpa

Gelje Sherpa
Gelje Sherpa

This Thursday, 1 December, the meteorological winter begins. And again Gelje Sherpa is drawn to the 8,188-meter-high Cho Oyu. The 30-year-old Nepali mountaineer wants to try again to climb the sixth highest mountain on earth via its Nepalese south side. The Norwegian Kristin Harila will probably also be there as his client. Gelje confirmed this to me: “Yeah, I’m planning to go with her [to Cho Oyu].”

Also on the team, according to Spanish sports newspaper Marca, is Brit Adriana Brownlee. The 21-year-old has so far scaled ten of the 14 eight-thousanders, with bottled oxygen, always led by Gelje.

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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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Cho Oyu expedition abandoned

Cho Oyu in the first daylight (seen from Gokyo Ri)
Cho Oyu in the first daylight (seen from Gokyo Ri in fall 2016)

“We have canceled the Cho Oyu expedition because the weather will not be good for a long time,” Mingma Dorchi Sherpa, founder of Nepali expedition operator Pioneer Adventure, wrote to me today. His team is already back in Kathmandu.

Yesterday, Thursday, a summit attempt had been abandoned at Camp 3 at 7,200 meters. “We all feel like we are on winter expedition with this cold and wind,” Gelje Sherpa had described on Instagram the situation on the Nepali south side of the eight-thousander Cho Oyu. The wind had been “insane,” wrote the 29-year-old Nepalese. “We were in 70kph winds and we knew straight away this was not safe territory.”

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Snowman Race in Bhutan – Himalayan race against climate change

Holly Zimmermann at the Karchung La
Holly Zimmermann at the Karchung La

“It was purely a head decision, not one of the heart,” ultra runner Holly Zimmermann tells me. The U.S. resident of Germany dropped out on the second day of the “Snowman Race” in Bhutan.

“I would have loved to see more mountains of the Himalayas, the beautiful valleys and the hospitable people who live there. But I was already late on the first day and walked for several hours in the dark. And that’s borderline in the Himalayas.” When she reached the roughly 5,200-meter-high Karchung La on the second leg, Holly pulled the ripcord: “I was too slow. It was going to be another very long day. I have four children at home, ranging in age from 14 to 21. I told myself, ‘Safety first’ and turned around.”

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Nirmal Purja involved in fatal parachute accident

Nirmal Purja
Nirmal Purja (© Stefan Voitl / Red Bull Content Pool)

Nepal’s mountaineering star Nirmal, called ” Nims” Purja has escaped with his life in a serious parachute accident near the Spanish city of Seville. According to coinciding Spanish media reports, a 36-year-old fellow skydiver of Purja was killed in the accident on Friday.

The experienced skydiver, a soldier from the British special forces, had made a sport jump together with Purja from a height of around 4,500 meters, the Spanish news agency EFE reported. In freefall, the two first successfully completed some formation exercises and then opened their parachutes, it said. At around 1,000 meters, the two parachutes got tangled up.

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Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner supports “School up – far west

Villagers of Rama help to build the school
With joint forces for the new school in Rama

Gerlinde and Manfred are on board. Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner – the first woman in the world to climb all eight-thousanders without bottled oxygen – and her partner, the yoga teacher Manfred Jericha want to collect donations for the aid project “School up – far west”, which I started, in their lectures and seminars. I am very happy about this prominent support from Austria and hereby expressly invite other mountaineers to join in.

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Ralf Dujmovits after Manaslu expedition: “Most people lack personal responsibility”.

Ralf Dujmovits at the Larke Pass
Ralf Dujmovits

Disappointed, sad, tired. This is how Ralf Dujmovits describes his emotional state after his failed expedition to the eight-thousander Manaslu in western Nepal. Disappointed because he had to abandon three summit attempts due to bad weather. Sad about the accidents on the mountain with dead and injured climbers. Tired because the descent in the highest avalanche danger is in his bones. “It has been hissing all day around. Here a crack, there a crack, big snow slabs were released. The descent day was a horror,” Germany’s most successful high-altitude mountaineer tells me after his return. “That’s why I’m still so knocked out.”

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Avalanche accident in the Indian Himalayas

Draupadi ka Danda II

A serious avalanche accident has occurred on the 5,670-meter-high Draupadi ka Danda II in northern India. The Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, a climbing school based in Uttarkashi, a town about 60 kilometers west of Tibet, said the avalanche hit a team of 34 trainees and seven instructors. Four bodies have been recovered so far, it said. The Indian news agency PTI reported at least ten dead, citing information from officials. Several people are reportedly still missing.

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Ralf Dujmovits about his Manaslu expedition: “Roller coaster of emotions”

Ralf Dujmovits at Manaslu base camp
Ralf Dujmovits at Manaslu base camp

“It wasn’t meant to be,” says Ralf Dujmovits. He made three summit attempts during his Manaslu expedition, all three failed due to bad weather. Twice, fresh snow and the associated high avalanche risk stopped Germany’s most successful high-altitude mountaineer. Once it was extremely strong wind that made his ascent impossible without bottled oxygen. This time, the 60-year-old did not get beyond Camp 4 at 7,400 meters. “It was an absolute roller coaster of emotions,” Ralf tells me from the base camp before heading back to Kathmandu.

Dujmovits had already thought he was on the summit of Manaslu in spring 2007. As it turned out later, however, he had missed the “True Summit”. That is why Ralf had now returned to Manaslu once again. “If you’re an honest person and you realize you’ve made a mistake, of course you want to fix it,” he had told me before leaving for Nepal. “This is all about me, not about a (eight-thousander shrink) list or anything else.”

Actually, Ralf had planned today, Monday, as the summit day for an “attempt at the last minute,” as he had put it. In terms of weather, it would even have fit. “You won’t believe it. Today is the most magnificent day of the entire expedition,” Ralf says, and I can literally hear him shaking his head. “But because of all the fresh snow, it’s just way too dangerous.”

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Avalanche hits Manaslu base camp, Bargiel abandons Everest summit attempt

Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain in the world

For the second time in a week, a large avalanche went down on the eight-thousander Manaslu in western Nepal. It hit the base camp today at around 4,800 meters. The videos circulating on social media (see below) , show a huge cloud of snow sweeping over parts of the camp. More than 30 tents of six teams were destroyed, writes Tashi Lakpa Sherpa of the largest Nepalese operator Seven Summit Treks on Instagram. His team was well, he said. Other operators, such as Imagine Nepal, also rushed to assure that neither clients nor staff had been injured.

Seven Summit Treks also reported on two avalanches that had hit higher camps. According to information that reached me from the base camp, at least one Sherpa was killed. At least half a meter of fresh snow fell on the mountain overnight, it was said. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that no more bad news will reach us!

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Mount Everest: Andrzej Bargiel hopes the wind will calm down

Andrzej Bargiel
Andrzej Bargiel (© Bartlomiej Pawlikowski/Red Bull Content Pool)

“Unfortunately, the weather conditions didn’t let them go for another attempt of a summit attack today,” reads Polish ski mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel’s Instagram account. “The team stays overnight in Camp 2, and tomorrow will decide whether to continue the summit push. If the weather forecast is confirmed, it will be possible on Sunday/Monday.”

Then the wind on Mount Everest is expected to calm down significantly. From Tuesday, however, new snowfall must be expected. And from Thursday at the latest, the wind could freshen up again. So – if at all – only a small weather window will open up for Bargiel and Co.

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Mourning for ski mountaineer Hilaree Nelson

The North Face_Athlete Hilaree Nelson
Hilaree Nelson (1972 – 2022)

Now it has become a sad certainty: The world-renowned ski mountaineer Hilaree Nelson is dead. As reported by the newspaper “Kathmandu Post”, the body of the 49-year-old US American was discovered and recovered on the south side of Manaslu at an altitude of about 6,000 meters. A rescue helicopter had previously dropped off three Nepalese guides and Hilaree’s partner Jim Morrison at an altitude of 6500 meters to search for the missing climber. After they discovered Hilaree’s body, it was first flown to the base camp. From there it would be taken to Kathmandu, they said.

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