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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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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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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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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Rope-fixing team reaches summit of Lhotse – Summit rush expected on Everest

Lhotse in the first daylight (seen from Tengboche)

Not only on Mount Everest, but also on neighboring 8,516-meter-high Lhotse, the normal route is now secured to the summit with fixed ropes. According to the Nepalese expedition operator Seven Summit Treks, the seven-member team in charge of it, led by Sona Sherpa (he was among the ten Nepalese who succeeded in the first winter ascent of K2 in 2021), reached the highest point today. It was the first summit success of this spring season on Lhotse. Nepal’s Ministry of Tourism has issued 127 permits for foreign mountaineers to climb the fourth highest mountain on earth this spring.

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Royal style: Sheikha Al Thani on Kangchenjunga

Asma Al Thani (2nd from right) with Nirmal Purja (r.) and Co. on the summit of Kangchenjunga (in front Tenji Sherpa)
Asma Al Thani (2nd from right) with Nirmal Purja (r.) and Co. on the summit of Kangchenjunga (in front Tenji Sherpa)

Nirmal “Nims” Purja will probably not have to worry about tickets for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar at the end of the year. The Nepalese mountaineering star – in 2019, he scaled (with bottled oxygen) all 14 eight-thousanders in just over six months, in 2021 he was one of the climbers, who succeeded in the first winter ascent of K2 (in his own words, without bottled oxygen) – will certainly be invited to the football tournament as a VIP. After all, the 38-year-old has the best connections to the Qatari ruling family Al Thani. Since the head of the commercial operator Elite Expeditions took Sheikha Asma Al Thani on the rope as a premium client, things have been going well for the 32-year-old on the highest mountains in Nepal.

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Summit success reported from Makalu

Makalu (seen from Gokyo Ri)

Now there is also the first success report of the spring season from the fifth highest mountain on earth. According to expedition operator Pionier Adventure, Nepalese climbers Kami Sherpa and Pem Lakpa Sherpa led a client from the U.S. and another from Mongolia to the 8,485-meter-high summit of Makalu today – using bottled oxygen. The success of Pem Lakpa and the Mongolian was also confirmed by the operator 8K Expeditions.

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8000er weekend summary: Kami Rita’s record, summit successes and two deaths

Kami Rita Sherpa

“When I’m on Everest, I’m totally focused,” writes record climber Kami Rita Sherpa in his little book “How to climb Everest.” The 52-year-old has done it once again: for the 26th time Kami Rita stood on the roof of the world.

On Saturday, he reached the highest point on earth at 8,849 meters – with bottled oxygen – as the head of an eleven-member team of Climbing Sherpas. The team fixed the ropes to the summit, paving the way for commercial expedition teams. This week, Mount Everest is likely to see its first major summit wave.

Meanwhile, German professional climber David Göttler is practicing patience on his third Everest attempt without bottled oxygen. It’s getting too crowded for now, the 43-year-old writes me. “So I wait.”

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Successes reported from Kangchenjunga – summit wave expected on Everest

West, Main, Central and South Summit of Kangchenjunga (from l. to r.)

In the second attempt it obviously worked. After a first summit attempt by a commercial team narrowly failed last week, the first summit successes were reported today from Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain on Earth. Exactly how many climbers reached the highest point at 8,586 meters is not yet clear. The Nepalese expedition operator Seven Summit Treks initially gave a total of six names.

Among them was the 31-year-old Nepalese photographer Purnima Shrestha, who thus scaled her fifth eight-thousander – with bottled oxygen. Probably also wearing a breathing mask was the 20-year-old Shehroze Kashif, who was the first Pakistani ever to reach the summit of Kangchenjunga. For him it was also the fifth eight-thousander. He has now already climbed the three highest mountains on earth: Mount Everest, K2 and Kangchenjunga. In his native Pakistan, he is called “Broad Boy” – because of his first eight-thousander success at the age of 17 on Broad Peak.

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Summit successes reported from the north side of Mount Everest

Everest north side
North side of Mount Everest (in spring 2005)

The first summit successes of the spring season on the highest mountain on earth have apparently the Tibetan north side of Mount Everest. Mingma Sherpa, head of the commercial Nepalese expedition operator Climbalaya with good connections to China, reports that last Friday a team from the Chinese operator Yarla Shampo Expeditions fixed the ropes to the summit at 8,849 meters.

On Saturday, a commercial team of 20 Tibetan climbers and eleven paying clients ascended to the summit (almost certainly with bottled oxygen, if it were not, it would have been announced). Another team is aiming for tomorrow (Wednesday, May 4) as summit day, Mingma informed.

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Hans Wenzl after Annapurna success: “Without risk it does not work”

Goal achieved: Hans Wenzl on the top of Annapurna

Unlike the two climbers with whom he set out for the summit of Annapurna, Hans Wenzl will return home from the eight-thousander in western Nepal without frostbite. As reported, the 51-year-old Austrian reached the 8,091-meter-high summit last Thursday – and returned safely to base camp. It was Wenzl’s tenth eight-thousander that he scaled without breathing mask.

The Italian Giampaolo Corona and the Swede Tim Bogdanov, with whom Hans had teamed up on the ascent, also reached the summit, but had to be rescued by helicopter from high altitude on the descent. Hans Wenzl answered my questions after his return to base camp. 

Hans, when will you let the bottle caps fly after your tenth eight-thousander success?

I don’t feel like celebrating until I’m back in Kathmandu. I didn’t feel like it at base camp – especially  because two of my friends were still on the mountain this time and we didn’t know how it would turn out for them.

How was it for you, up there on the summit at 8,091 meters? What was going through your mind?

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Summit successes on Annapurna I – Hans Wenzl’s tenth coup

Hans Wenzl (2017 im Everest-Basislager)

Summit day on Annapurna I. About 20 climbers from three commercial teams reached the summit of the tenth highest mountain on earth at 8,091 meters today, according to the Internet portal ExplorersWeb: about half Climbing Sherpas, the other half paying clients. In the latter group was also the Austrian Hans Wenzl, who thus scaled his tenth eight-thousander.

This is particularly remarkable for two reasons. First, Hans is not a professional mountaineer – nor is he a zillionaire: The 51-year-old earns his money as a foreman for an Austrian construction company, and takes time off for his expeditions. Wenzl lives in Metnitz, a town with 2,500 inhabitants in northern Carinthia, and has two grown-up sons with his wife Sonja.

On the other hand, he climbed his first nine eight-thousanders before Annapurna all without bottled oxygen. And I have no reason to believe that this time was any different.

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Summit attempts on Kangchenjunga, Annapurna and Makalu

Summit zone of Kangchenjunga

Mingma Gyalje Sherpa is again in the lead. After leading the first commercial team to an eight-thousander this spring, on the 8167-meter-high Dhaulagiri, the head of the Nepalese expedition operator Imagine Nepal had himself flown by helicopter to Kangchenjunga in the east of the country. There, his Climbing Sherpas had already begun securing the normal route on the south side of the mountain.

Today, Mingma and Co. wanted to fix the ropes above Camp 4 (at about 7,550 meters). Planned summit day is Wednesday. The highest point is at 8,586 meters. This makes Kangchenjunga the third highest mountain on earth after Mount Everest and K2.

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