For weeks, the scene was puzzled about it: What exactly are David Göttler and Kilian Jornet up to on Mount Everest? It was clear that they wanted to climb the highest mountain on earth without bottled oxygen. But on which route? Possibly as a traverse, and Lhotse for good measure?
The most common speculation was that the German and the Spaniard would try to ascend to the summit via the West Ridge. In any case, this did not happen. David and Kilian abandoned their attempt without breathing mask at the South Col, i.e. on the normal route. The 42-year-old Göttler had climbed there from Camp 2, the 33-year-old Jornet directly from Everest Base Camp.
Not one hundred percent
“We both climbed through the night and met at South Col and we both experienced the same sensation of not feeling well or strong,” David described on Instagram the decision to turn back at nearly 8,000 meters. ” It would have been foolish to continue to climb higher in that state. You can’t climb Everest in our style if you don’t feel 100%, and luckily both of us know very well how we should feel at those altitudes.”
It was quite windy at the South Col, Göttler writes. But it wasn’t the wind or the conditions on the mountain that made them turn back, he says: “It was our bodies and how we felt, and it’s equally important to listen to your body and respect it. It’s just one more piece of this difficult puzzle. When the margins of safety are this slim, if one piece doesn’t fit you don’t get to finish the puzzle.” Describing his emotional state, David says, “Disappointed, of course. Regretful. Not a bit.”
As for what exactly they had planned, David still wouldn’t tell me after safely returning to base camp. That would have to “wait until next time,” Göttler writes me. “First do it, then talk about it.”