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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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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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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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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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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Search for missing ski mountaineer Hilaree Nelson so far unsuccessful

Summit of Manaslu (l.)

Ski mountaineer Hilaree Nelson is still missing on Manaslu. A rescue helicopter took off today. The crew searched the south side of the eight-thousander in western Nepal for the 49-year-old – so far without success. Also on board was Nelson’s partner, Jim Morrison.

The couple from the USA had reached the “True Summit” of Manaslu at 8,163 meters on Monday – with bottled oxygen. Then they started their planned ski descent. What exactly happened then is not yet clear. Early reports said Nelson had fallen into a 25-metre-deep crevasse in the summit zone. It was later reported that her ski blade skidded off and she fell into the deep. There was also talk of an avalanche that caused her fall. The helicopter search for Hilaree is scheduled to continue this Wednesday.

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Avalanche accident on Manaslu – Concern for Hilaree Nelson

Manaslu
The 8,163-meter-high Manaslu in western Nepal (in 2007)

According to the newspaper “The Himalayan Times”, around a dozen climbers have been injured in an avalanche on Manaslu today. Some are said to be in critical condition. Other reports speak of at least one dead. The snow masses went down below Camp 4, which is located at around 7,400 meters, it said. Bad weather prevented the rescue operation with helicopters. Several hundred mountaineers are said to have set off on summit attempts at the weekend.

According to information that reached me from Camp 3, most of the injured are Sherpas who wanted to bring equipment to Camp 4. They were taken down to Camp 3, from where they are to be flown out by helicopter – as soon as the weather permits.

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Eight-thousander No. 12 for Kristin Harila, Dawa Ongju Sherpa and Pasdawa Sherpa

Kristin Harila with Dawa Ongju and Pasdawa Sherpa in summer on Gasherbrum I
Kristin Harila with Dawa Ongju and Pasdawa Sherpa (from right to left) – in summer on Gasherbrum I

Despite difficult conditions on the mountain, a few summit successes were reported today from the eight-thousander Manaslu in western Nepal. The two Sherpas Dawa Ongju and Pasdawa as well as the Norwegian Kristin Harila would reached today at 2.36 p.m. local time the highest point at 8,163 meters, let the Nepalese operator 8K Expeditions know. For the Nepalese-Norwegian trio, who are always en route with bottled oxygen, it was already the twelfth eight-thousander summit success this year.

“This was hard, but we wanted to summit Manaslu now to avoid the crowd of climbers waiting in the basecamp. Heavy snowfall and high risk of avalanches made this ascend challenging, so I am glad we made it,” Kristin said in a message from the summit of Manaslu.

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Ralf Dujvomits at Manaslu: “Only for me, not for a list”

Ralf Dujmovits
Ralf Dujmovits

Germany’s most successful high-altitude mountaineer wants to do it again. Ralf Dujmovits is currently giving the 8,163-meter-high Manaslu in western Nepal another try. Actually, he thought back in spring 2007 that he had added the eighth-highest mountain on earth to his list of eight-thousanders.

But three years ago at the latest, it turned out that Dujmovits and six of his clients at the time had mistakenly missed the very highest point at the end of the summit ridge. “If you’re an honest person and you realize you’ve made a mistake, of course you want to fix it,” the 60-year-old told me even before he left for Nepal. “This is all about me, not about a list or anything else. I have nothing to do with that at all.”

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Ski attempt on Mount Everest, hustle and bustle on Manaslu

Mount Everest
Mount Everest

If you want to experience Mount Everest in solitude, you should come there in fall. The five-member expedition of Polish ski mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel is (at least so far) the only one to which the Nepalese government has granted Everest permits for this season. The 34-year-old wants to climb the highest mountain on earth without bottled oxygen and ski down from the highest point.

On his ascent he will be accompanied by the experienced 54-year-old Janusz Golab, who in 2012 succeeded with his compatriot Adam Bielecki in the Karakoram in Pakistan in the first winter ascent of the 8,080-meter-high Gasherbrum I. Bargiel climbed with Golab and filmmaker Carlos Llerandi yesterday to Camp 2 at around 6,400 meters to acclimatize further.

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Livingstone and Cesen fail on Gasherbrum III

Gasherbrum III and Gasherbrum II
Gasherbrum III (left) and Gasherbrum II (centre)

About 150 meters below the summit was the end of the line for British Tom Livingstone and Slovenian Ales Cesen on the 7,952-meter-high Gasherbrum III in the Karakoram. “We had to change our original route idea to the north face/ridge due to strong winds,” Tom wrote on Instagram, “but still spent several further days climbing (in snow, buffeting winds and usually wearing all our clothes) to 7800 metres via a new route. Here we were unfortunately dead-ended, and bailed due to the cold, weather, fatigue and lack of reasonable options.”

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Holecek and Groh turn around on Masherbrum

Marek Holecek (l.) and Radoslav Groh (r.) in their tent on Masherbrum
Marek Holecek (l.) and Radoslav Groh (r.) in their tent on Masherbrum

To 7,300 meters and not a step further. “We had no choice but to turn back,” writes Marek Holecek on Instagram. The 47-year-old Czech and his 33-year-old compatriot Radoslav Groh had tried to open a new route on the rarely climbed Masherbrum in alpine style.

“Everything higher was already beyond our skills. The conditions offered to us beyond the western edge can be described as catastrophic. As we climbed from the north side to the east side, the snow turned into non-sticky powdered sugar. Loose, dried white stuff that sticks in the groove and on the rock, just for some mysterious reason. As soon as you touch it, it falls over 2,000 meters down to the glacier in big cakes.”

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Tough struggle on Masherbrum

Masherbrum in clouds
Bad weather on Masherbrum

Marek Holecek is not at a loss for original images when he describes the difficulties on his extreme climbs. Like now on the 7,821-meter-high Masherbrum in Pakistan’s Karakoram. “Even a horse-drawn carriage would get tired of this terrain,” the Czech climber writes on Instagram today. “We are progressing at a snail’s pace and hoping that the snow conditions will improve with higher elevation.”

Deep and loose snow has robbed them of their strength, says the 47-year-old. “The weather forced us into the tent in the afternoon, as we could not see through the fog to the tip of the nose and it started to snow lightly.” Holecek and his team partner Radoslav Groh will spend their now sixth bivouac at an altitude of 6,800 meters, according to their own information.

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