Norrdine Nouar after Everest attempt: “I can no longer put up with the circus”

Norrdine Nouar at Everest Base Camp
Norrdine Nouar back at Everest Base Camp

Norrdine Nouar listened to his body. On the evening of 22 May, the German mountaineer, who wanted to climb Mount Everest without bottled oxygen and without a Sherpa companion, set off from the South Col at around 7,900 meters. His goal: the highest point on earth at 8,849 meters.

However, the 36-year-old turned back at an altitude of around 8,100 meters. “I realized pretty quickly that I might manage to reach the summit, but that I would never come back,” Norrdine writes to me.

Infection weakened his body

South side of Mount Everest, Khumbu Icefall on the lower left
South side of Mount Everest (in 2002)

After scaling the 8,091-meter-high Annapurna I in western Nepal – his second eight-thousander summit success without bottled oxygen after Lhotse in spring 2023 – Nouar continued on to Everest. “I was well acclimatized and my body was theoretically strong enough,” says Norrdine, “but I had caught an infection in Camp 2, which I was never able to fully cure at almost 6,500 metres.” However, Nouar says that his body had recovered to such an extent that he felt it was responsible to attempt the summit.

The mountaineer from the Bavarian region of Allgäu had been staying at the high camp for weeks, waiting for the perfect day to reach the summit. On 22/23 May, the opportunity seemed to present itself. “I would have had a perfect day. No crowds, no wind and a full moon. The conditions would have been perfect. But my body was simply too weak from the infection.”

And that’s exactly why he turned back. “It’s easy to keep going up there, but as a climber you should be able to assess your body well and know whether you can make it back,” says Norrdine. “I guarantee you I’d be another frozen body up there now if I’d kept going. It’s a mystery to me that ‘climbers’ don’t master this simple lesson about their body and ego and push to the summit and die.”

“Ugly way to climb mountains”

What insight does Nouar take home with him from the highest mountain on earth? “Pretty much the hardest thing on Everest is staying healthy,” he answers. “Almost no one is spared any kind of cough or infection. That’s also due to the crowds and the way the expeditions are organized.” And it is precisely this style that Norrdine says he is fed up with. “I already realized on Annapurna that I don’t like this ‘Nepalese expedition style’. It’s an incredibly ugly way to climb mountains and, in my opinion, has nothing to do with mountaineering. It would be easy for me to ‘bag’ one eight-thousander after another. But I’m not going to do that.”

The Nepalese side of Cho Oyu (in the foreground the village of Gokyo)
Next destination? The Nepalese side of Cho Oyu (in the foreground the village of Gokyo)

In future, he wants to organize his expeditions himself, in a small team, with “alpinists who are looking for a challenge and want to go off the beaten track,” says the German mountaineer. If he gets the money together, he is thinking, for example, of a new route on the challenging Nepalese south side of the 8,188-meter-high Cho Oyu, says Nouar: “Just three alpinists, a cook and a kitchen helper, that’s all. That would be a great expedition, even if the chances of success were slim.”

And Mount Everest? Norrdine Nouar replies that he will attempt the highest mountain on earth again in two years at the earliest, “then most likely via the Chinese side. I can no longer put up with the circus on the Nepalese side.”

On the north side of Everest, however, there could be another problem for him: The Chinese-Tibetan authorities stipulate that all climbers must use bottled oxygen from an altitude of 7000 meters, i.e. the North Col.”

2 Replies to “Norrdine Nouar after Everest attempt: “I can no longer put up with the circus””

    1. Thanks for the tip. I don’t know how that happened. I have now thrown out the repetitions.

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