Eleventh death on Everest, no new 8000er routes

This time little traffic on the Everest summit ridge

The Everest season is drawing to a close. Most of the teams on the Nepalese south and Tibetan north side have already broken off their tents and started their journey home. On Monday, a 14-member team of the US operator “Climbing the Seven Summits” reached the highest point at 8,850 meters, with “no crowds” and good climbing conditions, as the operator announced on their homepage. The waiting was worth it. But then also this company had to pass on a sad news. A 62-year-old American died after descending from the summit in his tent at the South Col. It was already this spring season’s eleventh death on Everest, the 21st on all eight-thousanders. The number of Everest summit successes this year should again be well over 700. In 2018, 802 ascents had been registered.

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David Göttler: “Without bottled oxygen you are a bit of exotic”

David Göttler above Camp 3 in the Lhotse flank

On Mount Everest, the first two deaths of the spring season are to be mourned. Today an Indian mountaineer was found dead in his tent at the South Col at 7,900 meters, apparently he had died of high altitude sickness during the night. He had reached the 8,850-meter-high summit on Thursday. Meanwhile the search for a 39-year-old Irishman, who has been missing since yesterday, was stopped. During the descent from the highest point he had slipped and fallen from an altitude of about 8,300 meters into depth. There is no hope any more to find him alive. The wind in the summit area has refreshed and makes a further search impossible for the time being.

During the first good weather window of the season, more than 100 climbers reached the summit of Everest, obviously all of them used bottled oxygen. Last year, according to the mountaineering chronicle “Himalayan Database”, among 802 climbers standing on the roof of the world, only one was successful without breathing mask: 32-year-old Sonam Finju Sherpa.

Also this spring only very, very few climbers tackle the mountain without bottled oxygen. One of them is – as reported – the German professional mountaineer David Göttler. The 40-year-old has completed his acclimatization and is now waiting in Everest Base Camp for a favourable time for his summit attempt without breathing mask.

David, there are aerial photos circulating from Everest Base Camp. It doesn’t look like a camp, but like a tent city. How is it to live there?

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First black African woman on Everest

Saray Khumalo in Everest Base Camp

The weather window on Mount Everest is still a little bit open, but stronger winds are expected from Friday onwards. Another 30 climbers took the chance today and reached the highest point on earth at 8,850 meters. Among them was the 45-year-old Brit Kenton Cool, who scaled Mount Everest for the 14th time. A whole continent celebrates Saray Khumalo. The 47-year-old South African was the first black woman from Africa to stand on the roof of the world today. The businesswoman, who works for a major financial services group in Johannesburg, has been climbing mountains only for seven years.

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Kami Rita Sherpa: Everest record holder with humility towards the mountain

Kami Rita Sherpa on Everest ascent

“I can climb for a few more years,” said Kami Rita Sherpa some time ago in a BBC interview. “I am healthy. I can go until I am 60 years old. With oxygen it’s no big deal, we were born in the Himalayas.” The 49-year-old reached the summit of Mount Everest at 8,850 meters today at 7.50 a.m. local time – for the 23rd time already – thus improving his own record. “I’ve been always 100 percent focused on my job,” Kami Rita told the BBC. “I never thought about making records. I actually didn’t know that you could make a record. Had I known, I would have done a lot more summits earlier.”

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Summit successes on Everest, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu

Three 8000ers at a glance: Everest, Lhotse, Makalu (From l. to r.)

Cheers to the Sherpas! The teams responsible for fixing the ropes have done a great job. On yesterday’s Monday, they were the first climbers of the season to reach the summits of four eight-thousanders: Mount Everest, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu. On the highest of all mountains Siddhi Bahadur Tamang, Pasdawa Sherpa, Dorji Gyaljen Sherpa, Pasang Dawa Sherpa, Ang Phurba Sherpa, Dawa Nurbu Sherpa, Ming Dorchi Sherpa and Sangbu Bhote climbed from the Nepalese south side to the highest point at 8,850 meters. The team of eight of the expedition operator “Himalayan Guides” has prepared the way for the numerous clients of the commercial teams. The Nepalese government has issued a total of 378 Everest permits this spring.

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Summit attempts at the weekend

The 8,516-meter-high Lhotse

It smells like summit successes on the eight-thousanders. No matter whether on Mount Everest, Lhotse, Dhaulagiri, Makalu, Kangchenjunga or Cho Oyu and Shishapangma – everywhere a three-to-four-day weather window with low wind speeds is expected in the summit area above 8,000 meters from Sunday on – even though snow showers are predicted too. Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, head of the Nepalese expedition operator “Imagine”, announced today that his Lhotse team will leave the base camp on Friday for a summit attempt.

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Richard Hidalgo dies on Makalu

Richard Hidalgo (1967-2019)

Another sad news from the eight-thousanders:  Richard Hidalgo, one of South America’s most famous climbers, has died on Makalu. Sherpas of the Nepalese expedition operator “Seven Summit Treks”, who had been fixing ropes on the fifth highest mountain in the world, found the 52-year-old Peruvian dead in his tent in Camp 2 at 6,600 meters. Hidalgo had set himself the goal of climbing all 14 eight-thousanders without bottled oxygen by 2021 – the year in which Peru will celebrate the 200th anniversary of independence.

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Luis Stitzinger: “Just now standstill on Everest”

Luis Stitzinger

The outer bands of the cyclone “Fani” have also reached Mount Everest. Strong winds and snowfall is reported from both sides of the highest mountain on earth. The expedition teams have no choice but to sit out the bad weather in the base camp. Luis Stitzinger leads a group of the Austrian expedition operator “Furtenbach Adventures” on the Tibetan north side of Everest. I have contacted the 50-year-old German, who has already scaled eight eight-thousanders, all of them without bottled oxygen.

Luis, you were on the North Col at 7,000 meters for the first time this season. What are the conditions on the mountain like?

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After rescue from Annapurna: Mountaineer Wui Kin Chin is dead

Wui Kin Chin

In the end, all the effort was in vain: this of Nima Tshering Sherpa, who had left his oxygen bottle to his client in the death zone and had waited with him for hours; the effort of the four-man rescue team that had ascended to him, provided him with first aid and then brought him down the mountain so far that he could be flown out; that of the helicopter crew, who had first searched for him in an extremely risky manoeuvre and later flown him out from the flanks of the mountain on a long rescue line; the effort of the doctors in Kathmandu and then in Singapore, who fought for his life.

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Fixed ropes up to Everest South Col

Everest South Col

Slowly but surely the fixed-ropes snake winds its way towards the summit of Mount Everest.  The expedition operator “Seven Summit Treks” let us know today via Facebook that the ropes on the Nepalese south side of the mountain have been completely fixed up to the South Col at 7,900 meters. On the north side, the Tibetan rope-fixing team is working their way up above the 7,000-meter-high North Col towards the North-East Ridge. For the weekend, heavy snowfall is expected on the highest mountain on earth, so the work of the rope-fixing teams on both sides of Everest is about to rest for a few days.

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Dispute over the rescue operation on Annapurna

Annapurna Base Camp

Mountains are rarely only black and white, neither is reality. Even if we would prefer to see them all black or white, they remain grey in many places – depending on which glasses we look through, more black or white. For days there has been a lot of discussion in the mountaineering scene about the rescue of the Malaysian climber Wui Kin Chin from high altitude on the eight-thousander Annapurna. The 49-year-old is now being treated in a hospital in Singapore. Even though he seems to be doing better, his condition yesterday was still described as serious. According to the doctors, the frostbite he has suffered on his hands and feet during more than 40 hours at 7,500 meters is massive. The fact that Chin survived is almost a small miracle.

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Rescue on Annapurna: Miracle with question marks

Helicopter rescue on the long rope

Many call it the “little miracle” on Annapurna. For more than 43 hours, Malaysian mountaineer Wui Kin Chin survived at an altitude of 7,500 meters – left alone, without a tent, without bottled oxygen, without water. On Thursday, he was discovered by helicopter during a search flight. A four-man Nepalese rescue team – Nirmal Purja, Mingma David Sherpa, Galgen Sherpa and Gesman Tamang – was dropped at Camp 3 at 6,500 meters, climbed up to Chin in strong winds, provided first aid and then took him down to Camp 3 until late in the night.

From there, the 49-year-old was flown yesterday to a hospital in Kathmandu after a stopover at base camp. According to the doctors, he arrived at the hospital in a critical condition, with low heart rate and body temperature and frostbite on his hands and feet. The fact that he is still alive is due to the great performance of the rescue team, including the helicopter pilots of “Simrik Air”.

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Successful rescue operation on Annapurna

Wui Kin Chin (l.) on the summit of Annapurna

Relief on the eight-thousander Annapurna: Wui Kin Chin from Malaysia, who was missing after summiting the 8091-meter-high mountain on Tuesday, is alive. A Nepalese rescue team found the 49-year-old mountaineer at an altitude of 7,500 meters and now takes him further down.  Their goal is to reach Camp 3 at 6,500 meters. From there the Malaysian is to be flown out by helicopter tomorrow.

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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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