Fatal fall on Broad Peak

Broad Peak (in 2004)

The second fatality of the summer climbing season has occurred on the eight-thousander Broad Peak in the Karakoram. Pakistani climber Sharif Sadpara fell from the summit ridge and has been missing since. The hope of recovering him alive is close to zero.

Describing how the accident happened on Tuesday, Austrian expedition operator Furtenbach Adventures wrote on Instagram: “There is still difficult and limited communication (with Broad Peak base camp) but what we know so far is that our team started from Camp 3 in the night, also fixing the rope to the summit ridge. They were followed by climbers from other teams. Shortly before the summit a following Pakistani climber from a different team fell through a snow cornice on the summit ridge down to the Chinese side. That event halted the summit push for everyone for obvious reasons.”

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Italians without bottled oxygen on Nanga Parbat – first fatality of the season

Nanga Parbat

At express speed, six Italian mountain guides from the Aosta Valley at the foot of Mont Blanc have scaled the 8,125-meter-high Nanga Parbat in Pakistan – without bottled oxygen! Marco Camandona, Francois Cazzanelli, Emrik Favre, Jerome Perruquet, Roger Bovard and Pietro Picco climbed via the Kinshofer route, according to Italian press reports, and reached the summit in less than two days on Monday morning local time.

They had decided to rest only at Camp 3 at around 6,700 meters. Cazzanelli set off from base camp at 4,300 meters only after the others and reached the highest point in just 20 hours and 20 minutes. Cazzanelli and Picco had – as reported before – opened a challenging variant to the Kinshofer route in the lower area of the Diamir Face last week and called it “Aosta Valley Express”.

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Kristin Harila’s eight-thousander chase: Number 7, Nanga Parbat

The Diamir side of Nanga Parbat
The Diamir side of Nanga Parbat

The first eight-thousander summit success of the summer season in Pakistan is reported from Nanga Parbat. According to Pemba Sherpa, founder of the Nepalese operator 8K Expeditions, today the 36-year-old Norwegian Kristin Harila and her three companions Chhiring Namgel Sherpa , Pasdawa Sherpa and Dawa Ongju Sherpa reached the summit at 8,125 meters. Kristin thus continued her record chase in the footsteps of Nirmal “Nims” Purja.

Like the Nepalese did in 2019, Harila wants to be the first woman to climb all 14 eight-thousanders in half a year – like Nims with bottled oxygen, strong Sherpa support and, if possible, helicopters to cover the distances between the mountains as quickly as possible. This is unlikely to be realized in Pakistan, where helicopter flights in the north of the country are only permitted to the Pakistani military.

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Expedition hotspot K2

The 8,611-meter-high K2 in the Karakoram (in summer 2004)

Will K2 become a bestseller like Mount Everest? No, I don’t have to formulate that as a question anymore. The 8,611-meter-high mountain on the border between Pakistan and China is already a big seller among commercial expedition operators. Karrar Haidri, head of the Alpine Club of Pakistan, told the Pakistani newspaper “The News” that this summer more than 400 climbers would attempt to climb the second highest mountain on earth. By comparison, Nepal’s government issued 325 climbing permits for the past spring season on Everest, compared with 408 in the record year of 2021.

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Tom Matthews after Everest scientific expedition: “It was humbling”

New weather station at the so-called "Bishop Rock" near the summit of Mount Everest
New weather station at the so-called “Bishop Rock” near the summit of Mount Everest

The icy ground is melting away from Everest Base Camp on the south side of the mountain in Nepal. For this reason, the Ministry of Tourism in Kathmandu is considering moving the camp’s location away from the glacier to ice-free ground in the future. The site behind the last inhabited settlement of Gorak Shep is reportedly under discussion, at an altitude of around 5,200 meters – at the foot of the popular hill Kala Patthar (5,645 m), from whose highest point many trekking tourists enjoy the view of Mount Everest. The possible move was triggered by the effects of climate change.

“I remember not many years ago when kitchen staff used to collect big pieces of ice, and boil them in huge pots to make water. These days, we can fetch water directly from Khumbu glacier,” Khimlal Gautam writes in the Everest Chronicle portal. The surveyor, who stood on Everest in 2011 and 2019, spent the entire past spring season at the base camp – as a member of that commission of the Ministry of Tourism, which now recommended moving the base camp to lower regions.

British climate scientist Tom Matthews stood on the summit of Everest at 8,849 meters this spring. The 36-year-old mounted a weather station with teammates from the National Geographic science expedition at an altitude of 8,810 meters, not far from the summit. In spring 2019, Tom had already installed a station on the so-called “Balcony” at about 8,400 meters, but it had survived only a few months. Matthews answered my questions.

Tom, What was it like for you as a scientist to stand on the highest point on earth?

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New aid project in Nepal: “School up – far west”

Lessons in the provisional school in Rama
Lessons in the provisional school in Rama

“Our village children attend a school with inadequate facilities. The roof leaks, the classrooms are too small. There is a lack of school furniture, of toilets and much more,” says Him Bahadur Shahi from the small mountain village of Rama. “We have a high proportion of school dropouts due to a variety of social factors, including a lack of adequate educational facilities. Having a full-service school would benefit our community and encourage students to finish their school studies.“

Over the next two years, the German aid organization “Nepalhilfe Beilngries” plans to build two more building wings around the existing school building – with toilets and water supply. With my new “School up” project I would like to support this school construction.

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Apparently second shoe of Günther Messner found on Nanga Parbat

The shoe now found

“Last week, the second shoe of my brother Günther was found at the foot of the Diamir glacier by local people. After fifty-two years. The Nanga Parbat tragedy remains as well as Günther forever.” With these words, mountaineering legend Reinhold Messner commented today on social media on the image of an old mountaineering boot on a large boulder. He had been sent the photo, the 77-year-old South Tyrolean told the German Press Agency (dpa). He will personally pick up the shoe in Pakistan, but there is no hurry, Messner said.

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Peter Riemann and the mystery of his winter coup on Cho Oyu

Peter Riemann (Cho Oyu in the background)
Peter Riemann (Cho Oyu in the background)

Is Peter Riemann now sitting in heaven chatting with Cho Oyu, the “Goddess of Turquoise”, about his solo winter ascent of the eight-thousander in the border region between Nepal and Tibet? Probably, however, he doesn’t make much fuss about it up there either. “He was pretty private and not at all boastful about his accomplishments,” recalls the German climber’s widow, American Carol Davis. “He was fine with his own company.”

Carol is one of apparently very few people Peter let in on his secret about his alleged 1992/93 winter coup: “Peter told me, in no uncertain terms, that he summited Cho Oyu from the Nepal side, alone and without supplemental oxygen. He eschewed supplemental oxygen, and never used it. Also, Peter always climbed alone.”

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Everest season 2022: Sherpas, Sherpas, Sherpas

South side of Mount Everest

The route through the Khumbu Icefall secured by the Icefall Doctors, a highly specialized Sherpa team, has been officially closed since yesterday, Sunday. This means that the 2022 spring season on Mount Everest is history.

It brought some 700 ascents to the highest point on earth, about 650 on the Nepalese south side of the mountain and before that 50 on the Tibetan north side, which once again remained closed to foreigners. With very few exceptions – one of them the German climber David Göttler – the mountaineers used bottled oxygen. By now we have become as accustomed to this as we have to the lurid headlines: “First … on Everest” or “New record on Everest”. In other respects it was a memorable season.

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Kristin Harila in Nims’ footsteps

Kristin Harila

Do I have a déjà vu? Norwegian Kristin Harila stood on the 8,485-meter-high summit of Makalu today with Sherpas Dawa Ongju and Pasdawa of Nepalese operator 8K Expeditions – with bottled oxygen. According to Lakpa Sherpa, head of the company, it was Kristin’s sixth eight-thousander in 29 days: after Annapurna (28 April), Dhaulagiri (8 May), Kangchenjunga (14 May), Mount Everest and Lhotse (both on 22 May). This was two days faster than Nepalese Nirmal “Nims” Purja in 2019.

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David Göttler: “Alone on the summit of Mount Everest”

David Göttler on the summit of Mount Everest (wearing a mask to moisten his breath).

His tactics worked out perfectly. “I’ve always said I need a year with a long lasting good weather window,” David Göttler tells me, “so that all the other expeditions have been on the mountain before I get going.” As reported yesterday, the 43-year-old German professional mountaineer had reached the summit of Mount Everest at 8,849 meters on Saturday: without bottled oxygen – and without Sherpa support. With the exception that Göttler also used the ropes that a Sherpa team had fixed for the commercial teams to secure the normal route.

After two failed attempts in 2019 and in 2021, David now stood on the highest point on earth. It was his sixth eight-thousander summit success without bottled oxygen after Gasherbrum II (in 2006), Broad Peak (in 2007), Dhaulagiri (in 2008), Lhotse (in 2009) and Makalu (in 2013). In 2017, Göttler had climbed the South Face of Shishapangma with Italian Hervé Barmasse – before they stopped their ascent five meters below the summit because of too high avalanche danger.

I spoke to David on the second day after his Everest summit success.

First of all, congratulations on your Everest ascent without breathing mask. How many stages did your summit push have?

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David Göttler: Everest success without bottled oxygen

David Göttler near Everest South Col

“For dreams like this to come true, you probably need a lot of attempts. Because everything just has to fit,” David Göttler told me last year after failing for the second time on Mount Everest climbing without breathing mask. On his third attempt, it apparently worked. According to Chhang Dawa Sherpa of the Nepalese expedition operator Seven Summit Treks, David reached the highest point on earth at 8,849 meters on Saturday without bottled oxygen and without Sherpa support. In spring 2019, Göttler had turned back on Everest at 8,650 meters because there was too much traffic on the normal route and the weather was getting worse. In 2021, he and the Spaniard Kilian Jornet had abandoned their attempt on the South Col at just below 8,000 meters because neither felt optimal.

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One of over 400: Everest summiteer Gerhard Osterbauer

Gerhard Osterbauer on the summit of Mount Everest
Gerhard Osterbauer on the summit of Mount Everest

“Maybe I set a record: 30 years for the Seven Summits!” says Gerhard Osterbauer and laughs. The 53-year-old Austrian reached the highest point of Mount Everest at 8,849 meters last Friday at 7:15 a.m. local time – with bottled oxygen – as one of more than 400 climbers who ascended to the summit via Nepal’s south side over the past week and a half.

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Mount Everest: Now already about 400 summit success on the south side

Sunrise on Mount Everest
Sunrise on Mount Everest (in fall 2019)

It almost seems as if someone has put a wedge in the fair weather window so that it cannot close. For more than a week, there has been little or no wind blowing in the summit region of Mount Everest, and little or no snow falling. As a result, most of the 319 foreign climbers to whom Nepal’s Ministry of Tourism issued Everest permits this spring have already completed their summit attempts.

U.S. blogger Alan Arnette, who keeps track of the numerous commercial teams on the world’s highest mountain like no other, has meanwhile noted some 400 summit successes (as usual, except for a few, with bottled oxygen) on the Nepalese side of Everest. In addition, there have been dozens of ascents of neighboring Lhotse.

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Billi Bierling without summit success on Dhaulagiri

Billi Bierling on the slopes of Dhaulagiri
Billi Bierling on the slopes of Dhaulagiri

Failure belongs to the ambitious mountaineering – just as to admit this honestly. As Billi Bierling is doing now on Dhaulagiri. “I gave up in Camp 3,” the 54-year-old German climber writes to me from the base camp at the foot of the 8,167-meter-high mountain in western Nepal.

Last Sunday, it took her twelve hours to walk from Camp 2 at 6,460 meters to Camp 3 at around 7,200 meters. Fresh snow and loose snow avalanches had made for difficult conditions.

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