Felix Prokop: Without breathing mask on Cho Oyu, down with skis

Felix Prokop during the ascent to Cho Oyu

Felix Prokop was among those who met Nirmal Purja on the mountain this fall. The 28-year-old German mountaineer crossed the way of the Nepalese – who is expected tp successfully complete his “Project Possible” (all 14 eight-thousanders in less than seven months) on Shishapangma in the next few days – below Camp 1 on Cho Oyu. “Nims” had just ticked off his twelfth eight-thousander. “I congratulated him on his summit access,” Felix writes to me. “He was quite friendly and visibly in a hurry to descend as quickly as possible. I think he wanted to be back at Manaslu Base Camp the next day. On site, he’s a little bit like a rock star. Even the Sherpas seem to be very impressed by him.” Not without reason: Four days later, on 27 September, Purja stood on the summit of Manaslu, his 13th eight-thousander since the end of April.

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Nirmal Purja: Toothache before Shishapangma summit attempt

Nirmal Purja at Shishapangma Base Camp

Every slight movement of the jaw hurts up to the ears, even speaking. Anyone who has ever had toothache at high altitudes knows what Nirmal “Nims” Purja is going through in Shishapangma Base Camp. “I’m having a massive trouble with my wisdom tooth. It’s so bloody painful and it’s getting me fever,” the 36-year-old Nepalese climber writes on Facebook, adding ” Yes I have been brushing my teeth and have been using dental floss too.” Toothaches are anything but ideal conditions for a summit attempt on the 8,027-meter-high mountain in Tibet – the last one that Nims still needs to successfully complete his ambitious “Project Possible” (all 14 eight-thousanders in seven months).

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Exciting attempts on Chamlang and Hongku Chuli

Base camp at the foot of Chamlang

“I’m fine. The mountain is traversed”, Frederick II said on 17 August 1786. Reportedly these were the last words of the Prussian king. Even though it is not known that he chose them on his deathbed because he had a passion for mountains, many climbers would subscribe the statement of “Old Fritz”, as the King was called at that time. The traverse of a technically difficult mountain is still considered a special achievement. Not far from the eight-thousander Makalu in eastern Nepal, two teams are currently trying their hand at traverses.

The professional climbers David Göttler from Germany, Hervé Barmasse from Italy and the Colombian Andres Marin, who lives in the USA, have set themselves the goal of crossing the three peaks of the seven-thousander Chamlang. The trio already set up their base camp at the foot of the mountain last weekend. According to Hervé, their acclimatization is completed. Last week, the three climbers had got used to the thinner air in the mountains around the village of Chukhung in the Khumbu region.

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Nirmal Purja is allowed to climb Shishapangma

Nirmal Purja (l., in K2 Base Camp)

The week-long adjourned game has come to an end. “With full of mixed emotions ; I feel very humble, thankful and proud today. Finally me and my team has got the permit to climb Shishapangma,” the Nepalese climber Nirmal “Nims” Purja  announces on the social networks. His patience had been put to a hard test in the last weeks.

Since the end of April, the 36-year-old former soldier of the British Gurkha Regiment has scaled 13 of the 14 eight-thousanders in an unprecedented tour de force. Only the 8,027-meter-high Shishapangma is missing to successfully complete his “Project Possible” (all 14 eight-thousanders in seven months). The Chinese-Tibetan authorities had actually closed the lowest of the eight-thousanders for this fall season – for safety reasons, it was said.

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Summit attempt on Dhaulagiri abandoned – Purja still waiting for Shishapangma permit

Summit area of Dhaulagiri

Camp 3 at 7,250 meters was the end of the lines. The Nepalese operator “Expedition Base” informed on Facebook that all mountaineers who had set off on Tuesday for another summit attempt on the eight-thousander Dhaulagiri descended towards  the base camp today. The Spaniard Carlos Soria and his teammates were among those who turned back. “The wind was very strong, and the weather forecasts for the summit area have not turned better,” the 80-year-old let us know via Twitter.

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Moeses Fiamoncini: Fall on Dhaulagiri

Broken helmet after the fall

The Brazilian climber Moeses Fiamoncini, according to his own words, has cheated death on Dhaulagiri last Thursday. “Due to an accident at 8,120 meters, I was unable to reach the summit of Dhaulagiri. I was only 47 meters short to conquer my fifth eight-thousander,” the 39-year-old informed after returning to Kathmandu. When he crossed near the summit a rock band which was covered with 30 centimeters of snow, he slipped and fell 20 meters,  said Fiamoncini, adding that his helmet was broken and his down suit, gloves and shoes had filled with snow. “I almost died of hypothermia,” reports Moeses – especially since he had been en route without a sherpa and bottled oxygen.

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Kilian Jornet turns around on Everest at 8,300 meters

Kilian Jornet above the South Col (view to Lhotse)

The fall season on Mount Everest has come to an end without a climber being able to reach the summit at 8,850 meters. “All the other teams have gone home, climbers are off the mountain and I’m the last one here,” the American expedition leader Garrett Madison wrote on Sunday from the base camp on the Nepalese south side of the mountain. Until the end he and his team had hoped that the giant Serac, which – as reported – hangs about 800 meters above the Khumbu Icefall and threatens to fall at any moment, would break off. “Even if the Serac came down, our climbers were able to return to base camp in a few days, and we had perfect weather and route conditions to climb, it would take us over two weeks beyond our orginial end date to climb the mountain.” The only summit attempt of the season on Everest was made by the Spanish speed specialist Kilian Jornet – solo.

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Summit successes on Dhaulagiri

Sergi Mingote on Dhaulagiri (in Camp 2)

“I’ve reached the top,” the Spaniard Sergi Mingote announced today via Twitter. The ascent from Camp 3 at 7,250 meters to the summit of Dhaulagiri at 8,167 meters took him 13 hours. “In only 444 days this is the seventh 8000-meter-summit, without the help of artificial oxygen.” In 2018, the 38-year-old had scaled Broad Peak, K2 and Manaslu, this year already Lhotse, Nanga Parbat and Gasherbrum II before Dhaulagiri. Sergi has resolved to climb all 14 eight-thousanders within 1000 days without breathing mask. At the scheduled end of his project in May 2021, he wants to scale Mount Everest.

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Mount Everest: When the serac threatens

Monster serac above the Khumbu Icefall

The tyrant Dionysios had a large sword hung over Damocles, held only by a single hair of a horse’s tail. In this way Dionysius wanted to demonstrate to the obsequious courtier the transience of life. This is what‘s currently also happening to the climbers at Mount Everest. Like the Sword of Damocles in the Greek saga, a monster serac is hanging 800 meters above the Khumbu Icefall and looks as if it will break off at any moment.

As heavy as 675 trucks

Polish ski mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel, who photographed the shaky ice tower, estimates the icy monster to be 50 meters high and 30 meters wide. If we take these values as a basis and assume a depth of 20 meters based on the proportions in Bargiel’s photo, the volume would be about 30,000 cubic meters. Ice weighs around 900 kilograms per cubic meter, giving us a total weight of about 27,000 tons – equivalent to 675 fully loaded 40-ton trucks. No wonder that some fall climbing teams have already broken down their tents at Everest Base Camp because of the threatening giant serac.

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Shishapangma permit for Nirmal Purja after all?

Positive signals for Nirmal Purja

The numerous appeals to the Chinese-Tibetan authorities may have borne fruit. After all, there are now signals from Lhasa that Nirmal “Nims” Purja will possibly receive a special permit for this fall to climb the 8,027-meter-high Shishapangma. “Chinese authorities have clearly conveyed me a message that Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu will do necessary arrangement to secure a Shishapangma climbing permit for Purja and his team of ‘Project Possible‘ at the earliest,” Dawa Sherpa, managing director of the Nepalese expedition operator “Climbalaya Treks”, told the newspaper “The Himalayan Times”.

At the earliest could mean: after the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the communist state in China are over. However, there is still no official confirmation, neither from the China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA), which is responsible for issuing the permit, nor from Nirmal Purja himself.

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Open letter in the matter of Nims and Shishapangma

Nirmal Purja

Dear Chinese-Tibetan authorities, now it is up to you whether Nirmal, called “Nims” Purja can successfully complete his “Project Possible” – all 14 eight-thousanders in seven months – or not. Today he has also scaled the 8,163-meter-high Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain on earth. It was the 13th eight-thousander for the 36-year-old Nepalese since the end of April, when the former soldier of the British Gurkha Regiment opened the dance with his success on Annapurna. Now he is only missing the Shishapangma, with 8,027 meters the “lowest” eight-thousander. And that’s where you come in.

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Summit wave rolling on Manaslu

Rope fixing team, including Muhammad Ali “Sadpara” (r.)

It’s served on the “fall trend eight-thousander” Manaslu. According to the Nepalese expedition operator “Seven Summit Treks”, a team of five reached today the summit at 8,163 meters. Ngima Dorje Sherpa, Ngima Thenduk Sherpa, Tenji Chhumbi Sherpa, Namja Bhote and the Pakistani Muhammad Ali “Sadpara” fixed the ropes up to the highest point in a three-day “tireless effort”, it said. 

Number eight for Ali “Sadpara”

For Muhammad Ali, it was his eighth eight-thousander. The 43-year-old, one of the first winter ascenders of Nanga Parbat in 2016, has now scaled Lhotse, Makalu and Manaslu in Nepal in addition to the five eight-thousanders of his home country Pakistan. 

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Eight-thousander No. 12 for Nirmal Purja

Nirmal Purja on Cho Oyu

The Nepalese climber Nirmal, called “Nims” Purja has filled the dozen. The 36-year-old former soldier of the British Gurkha Regiment scaled today – along with seven other mountaineers – the 8,188-meter-high Cho Oyu in Tibet, the sixth highest mountain on earth. It was the first eight-thousander success in this fall season. Since the end of April, Nims has climbed twelve of the 14 eight-thousanders and is approaching the goal of successfully completing his “Project Possible” – all eight-thousanders in seven months.

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Ski mountaineer Davo Karnicar is dead

Davo Karnicar (1962-2019)

Mourning for Davo Karnicar: The first person to ski from the summit of Mount Everest to the base camp died in a forest accident in his Slovenian hometown of Jezersko. Karnicar succumbed to his severe injuries on Monday. A tree he had tried to cut down with a chainsaw had fallen on him. Davo was 56 years old. He leaves behind seven children from two marriages. 

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Jost Kobusch: “8000 meters would be a mega success”

Jost Kobusch

“For me, time is the key to success,” says Jost Kobusch. And so the 27-year-old German mountaineer will already be heading for Nepal next Sunday – three months before the actual start of his expedition. Jost plans to climb Everest in winter, from the south side, over the Lho La (a 6,000 meter high pass to Tibet) to the West Ridge, through the Hornbein-Couloir to the summit – without bottled oxygen, solo. Beforehand he wants to acclimatize in peace and climb a six- as well as a seven-thousander, in preparation for the highest of all mountains. 

The only mountaineer so far to stand without breathing mask on the 8,850-meter-high summit in winter was the legendary Ang Rita Sherpa, on 22 December 1987, exactly at the beginning of the calendrical winter. Some purists argue that Ang Rita ascended in the meteorological winter (which begins on 1 December), but in the calendrical fall – and that it was therefore, strictly speaking, not an Everest winter ascent. 

Jost Kobusch wants to start his expedition at the beginning of the calendrical winter and finish it before the end of the meteorological winter (29 February). “The beginning of December and March doesn’t feel like winter for me,” says Jost. 

In 2015, Kobusch became internationally known in one fell swoop when he shot a video of the avalanche, which – triggered by the devastating earthquake in Nepal – came down from Pumori, hit the base camp at the foot of Mount Everest and killed 19 people. At that time Kobusch actually wanted to climb Lhotse. In 2016 he scaled Annapurna, his first eight-thousander, without bottled oxygen. In 2017 he succeeded in the first ascent of the 7,321-meter-high Nangpai Gosum II in eastern Nepal, also without breathing mask.

Jost, you haven’t tried an eight-thousander in winter so far. Why immediately Mount Everest, the highest mountain on earth? 

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