Summit successes reported from Annapurna

Annapurna Base Camp

From the west of Nepal, the first eight-thousander summit successes of the spring season are reported. The Nepalese expedition operator “Seven Summit Treks” announced on Facebook that 31 mountaineers had reached the highest point at 8,091 meters today. Among the 14 foreign climbers mentioned is the Turk Tunc Findik. If the summit success of the 47-year-old is confirmed, it would be his twelfth eight-thousander. Only Nanga Parbat and the Gasherbrum I are then still missing in his collection.

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Lama, Auer, and Roskelley: Avalanche death on descent

Howse Peak

Hope had already been gone before, but now it is sad certainty: The two Austrians David Lama (28 years old) and Hansjörg Auer (35) as well as the US-American Jess Roskelley (36) died in an avalanche on Howse Peak. On Sunday, a rescue team found the bodies of the three top climbers at the foot of the 3,295 meter high mountain in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. “The avalanche conditions were hazardous to the rescue team, so a specially trained avalanche dog was used to locate the climbers,” says a statement by the Roskelley family.

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Avalanche in Canada: Almost no hope for Lama, Auer and Roskelley anymore

The East Face of Howse Peak

The international mountaineering scene is shocked. The top climbers David Lama and Hansjörg Auer from Austria and Jess Roskelley from the USA most probably died in an avalanche accident on the 3,295-meter-high Howse Peak in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. “Based on the assessment of the scene, all three members of the party are presumed to be deceased,” Parks Canada, the national park authority of the Canadian government, announced. Equipment had been discovered in a huge avalanche cone during a reconnaissance flight, it said: “Further investigation is underway but recovery efforts are not currently possible due to additional avalanches and dangerous conditions at the scene.”

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Lama, Auer and Roskelley missed in Canada

David Lama

The international mountaineering and climbing scene fears for three of their best. According to media reports from Austria and Italy, the two Austrians David Lama and Hansjörg Auer as well as the American Jess Roskelley are said to have been caught by an avalanche while climbing in western Canada. Official information is not yet available.

The “Tiroler Tageszeitung” from Austria reported that the huge avalanche cone had already been searched yesterday, Wednesday, by rescue planes – without success. The “Kronenzeitung”, from Austria too, reported that the 35-year-old Auer had died in the accident, citing its own information. David Lama’s manager announced a statement by the family on the 28-year-old’s homepage, but without naming a time.

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David Göttler will try Everest without bottled oxygen

David Göttler

It could be another record season on Mount Everest. Until last Tuesday, the Ministry of Tourism in Kathmandu alone issued 374 climbing permits for the south side of the world’s highest mountain. On the north side, the Chinese-Tibetan authorities have limited the number of climbing permits to 300 this spring. Last year, according to the mountaineering chronicle “Himalayan Database”, 802 climbers reached the summit at 8,850 meters, only one without bottled oxygen: 32-year-old Sonam Finju Sherpa.

This season, too, only a few mountaineers will try to scale Everest without breathing mask. One of them will be David Göttler, who arrived in Kathmandu today. “Nowadays many people think it’s easy because there’s no differentiation between oxygen aspirants and the few without,” the 40-year-old German. “But to make it to the top ‘without diving equipment’ is still not easy. Everything has to fit. And so it would also mean an awful lot to me to reach the summit.” 

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Where to with the dirty K2 laundry?

Clouds on K2

It’s quite normal that mountaineers return from an expedition with dirty clothes. After all, it’s important to travel with as little weight as possible. And that’s why, after the trip, the strong smell in the laundry room at home from clothes worn too long is simply part of it. But is it really necessary to wash your dirty laundry in public? For days, the members of the two recently failed K2 winter expeditions have been engaged in a media exchange of blows. With the meanwhile almost usual echo on the social networks – from people who weren’t there, but think they have to put their oar in.

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Mr. Hong and his wall

Sung Taek Hong in a Gompa in the Khumbu region

He’s back. The South Korean Sung Taek Hong has again pitched up his base camp at the foot of the huge Lhotse South Face. For the sixth time, the 52-year-old has traveled to Nepal to tackle the 3,300-meter-high, extremely challenging eight-thousander wall. This time Hong has gathered an international team. As in his last attempt in fall 2017, he is joined by Jorge Egocheaga, a very experienced high-altitude climber:  The 50-year-old Spaniard has already stood on the summits of all 14 eight-thousanders. Only on Everest he used bottled oxygen.

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On the Everest record track

Kami Rita Sherpa

The route is ready for the commercial expeditions on the Nepalese south side of Mount Everest. The “Icefall Doctors have completed their job. The team of eight specialized Sherpas secured the route through the dangerous Khumbu Icefall up to Camp 2 at about 6,400 meters with fixed ropes and ladders. Now the summit aspirants can come. To a certain extent en passant, namely at work, some climbers from Nepal will probably improve their records during this spring season. Kami Rita “Topke” Sherpa will be en route with an expedition of the Nepalese operator Seven Summit Treks and – if everything goes according to plan – will reach the highest point on earth at 8,850 meters for the 23rd time.

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All 8,000 in seven months? The clock’s ticking

Nirmal Purja on the slopes of Annapurna

How possible is the impossible? Nirmal, called Nims Purja has baptized his challenge “Project possible”. In just seven months, the 36-year-old wants to climb all 14 eight-thousanders. That sounds wacky, if not crazy. By the beginning of June, the Nepalese wants to have scaled six eight-thousanders in his home country: Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Mount Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kangchenjunga. In summer, the five Pakistani eight-thousanders are to follow: Nanga Parbat, K2, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum I and II. And in fall he wants to complete his collection by summiting Manaslu, Shishapangma and Cho Oyu. „I firmly believe that everything in life is possible armed only with a determined approach and positive mindset,” says Nims.

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Muhammad Ali Sadpara tackles Makalu

Muhammad Ali Sadpara in Kathmandu

I guess it’s a classic win-win situation. The Nepalese expedition operator “Seven Summit Treks” benefits from the fact that Pakistan’s top climber Muhammad Ali “Sadpara” strengthens their rope fixing team on the 8,485-meter-high Makalu. And the 43-year-old thus gets the chance to scale the fifth highest mountain on earth in Nepal. The climber is financially supported in this project by the Pakistan Army. For Muhammad, who has been in Nepal since Wednesday, this is the second attempt on Makalu. In spring 2016, he had to turn around 150 meters below the summit in bad weather. At that time he had worked as a mountain guide for the Brazil-born American Cleo Weidlich.

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New routes on Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Everest?

Annapurna Northwest Face

Expedition luggage is piling up these days at the airport of the Nepalese capital Kathmandu. Mountaineers from all over the world arrive in the Himalayan state to tackle Everest or another of Nepal’s high mountains this spring. According to the Ministry of Tourism, the number of mountaineers is expected to be even higher than last year. In 2018, the government issued 768 climbing permits for foreign mountaineers in spring and collected 412 million rupees (the equivalent of more than three million euros) in permit fees. The majority of the summit candidates are once again the clients of the commercial expeditions, who will be bustling on the normal routes. But there are also a few climbers who want to break new ground on the eight-thousanders off the beaten tracks – like the 38-year-old German Felix Berg and the 35-year-old Pole Adam Bielecki on Annapurna.

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Tough struggle on the 7000er Jannu

Jannu East Face (originally planed route in blue, the current one in red)

For about a week the two Russians Dmitry Golovchenko and Sergey Nilov have been fighting their way through the East Face of the 7,710 meter high Jannu in eastern Nepal. The wall has never been completely climbed so far. In the past three days, the two climbers have made little progress due to bad weather. According to information from the Internet portal “Russian Climb“, they are stuck at an altitude of more than 7,000 meters at a spot below the Southeast ridge: “Options: to continue climbing via the French route or to go down. It’s still snowing. Visibility is poor.” The first ascenders of Jannu, the French Rene Desmaison, Paul Keller and Robert Paragot as well as the Nepalese Gyalzen Mitchung Sherpa, had reached the summit via the Southeast Ridge in April 1962.

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Mingma Gyalje Sherpa: “The Chinese boom on Everest will slow down again”

Xia Boyu (3rd from l.) on the summit of Everest

The spring season on Mount Everest and the other eight-thousanders in Nepal is starting. On Everest, the Icefall Doctors, a team of eight specialized Sherpas, have begun to set the route through the Khumbu Icefall and secure it with ladders and ropes. Some operators of commercial expeditions have already sent staff to base camp to prepare for the arrival of their clients in April.

As in previous years, a large number of Chinese Everest summit aspirants are expected this spring. The China market is booming: Among the wealthy Chinese, mountaineering is in. Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, head of the Nepalese expedition operator “Imagine Nepal”, recognized this potential early on. For years he has been leading Chinese climbers to the top of the highest mountains on earth. In 2018, his company achieved summit successes on five eight-thousanders: Everest, Lhotse, Kangchenjunga, Manaslu and Broad Peak. Among his team’s Everest summiteers was Xia Boyu, a double amputee from China.

Mingma himself has already scaled twelve of the 14 eight-thousanders, eleven of them without bottled oxygen. Only Gasherbrum II in Pakistan and Shishapangma in Tibet are still missing in his collection. He has reached the 8,850-meter-high summit of Everest five times. I asked him about his assessments of the Chinese boom on the eight-thousanders.

Mingma, you will lead once again an expedition to Mount Everest this spring. Will Chinese mountaineers also be part of your team this time?

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K2 remains unclimbed in winter

Alex Txikon, marked by K2

The second highest mountain on earth has once again shown its teeth in winter. After the team from Kazakhstan, Russia and Kyrgyzstan, led by Vassiliy Pivtsov, had broken off their summit attempt on the Southeast Ridge of K2 at 7,500 meters due to poor visibility a week and a half ago, the Spaniard Alex Txikon and his Sherpa team now also returned to base camp without summit success. Their Camp 3 at about 7,050 meters altitude was the end of the line.

“The strong wind didn’t let us climb upwards,” Alex explained. “Winter K2 resists, but we must respect it. You have to listen to the mountain. This winter has showed us that it is not the time yet. I will definitely return!” Perhaps already next summer. Txikon has announced that he wants to try the first traverse of the mountain: ascent via the Chinese side of K2, descent via the Pakistani side. Let’s see if the Chinese authorities will grant him a permit.

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Search for Nardi and Ballard on Nanga Parbat finished

R.I.P., Daniele and Tom!

“We’re heartbroken; we inform you that the research of Daniele and Tom has ended. A part of them will always remain on the Nanga Parbat,” Daniele Nardi’s home team wrote on Facebook. “The big pain hurts; facing objective facts and after doing everything possible finding them, we must accept what happened.” So now it’s sad certainty: 42-year-old Italian Daniele Nardi and 30-year-old Brit Tom Ballard have died while trying to fully climb the striking “Mummery Rib” in the Diamir Face for the first time.

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