I admit that I am a bit biased. Perhaps I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Nancy Hansen and Ralf Dujmovits in their summit attempt on the 6,810-meter-high, still unclimbed Biarchedi I in the Karakoram a bit tighter than I do for other climbers. I have known Ralf, the only German mountaineer so far to have scaled all 14 eight-thousanders (except for Mount Everest, all without bottled oxygen), for over 20 years now.
In 2005 we were (together with Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Hirotaka Takeuchi) on the north side of Mount Everest. In 2007, I accompanied a commercial expedition led by him to the eight-thousander Manaslu. After the devastating earthquake in Nepal in 2015, the two of us, together with Gerlinde and Nepalhilfe Beilngries, ensured that a school destroyed by the quake was rebuilt for several hundred children and young people in the mountain village of Thulosirubari. All this bonded us and made us friends – and perhaps explains to you why I am particularly excited about the adventure of Ralf and his wife Nancy.
Yesterday, the two set out from their base camp at 4,550 meters for their summit attempt on the still unclimbed Biarchedi I. Despite “crappy weather” with 40 centimeters of fresh snow, as Ralf wrote on Instagram, the two had previously spent five days exploring the difficult approach to the six-thousander, “almost an expedition in itself,” as Ralf had already told me before leaving for Pakistan.
“We acclimatized to an altitude of 5,650 meters and found our route to the steep-sided col which will allow us to approach the unclimbed Biarchedi I,” the 59-year-old wrote, describing their first experience. For their summit attempt, Nancy and Ralf have calculated seven to eight days. For the coming week, mostly calm weather is expected on Biarchedi with little wind and only scattered snow showers.
Legendary climbers have immortalized themselves on the neighboring Biarchedi II. The first ascent was made in 1984 by the Polish Jerzy Kukuczka who was climbing solo. In 2003, top climbers Marko Prezelj and Matic Jost from Slovenia and Steve House from the USA scaled the 6,781-meter mountain for the second time, via a new route.