Alex Txikon and Co. succeed in winter ascent of Manaslu

Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain on earth
Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain on earth

The mountaineering team led by Spaniard Alex Txikon has taken advantage of the short window of good weather on the eight-thousander Manaslu in western Nepal. According to the Spaniard as well as the Nepalese expedition operator Seven Summit Treks (SST), Alex and the Nepalese Tenjen Sherpa, Pasang Nurbu Sherpa, Mingtemba Sherpa, Chhepal Sherpa, Pemba Tashi Sherpa and Gyalu Sherpa reached the highest point at 8,163 meters at 9.30 local time. “The team braved harsh winter conditions and treacherous terrain to make it to the top,” let SST expedition manager Chhang Dawa Sherpa know. By evening, everyone had returned to base camp safe and sound.

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Göttler and Barmasse will attempt Dhaulagiri this winter

The 8,167-meter-high Dhaulagiri in the west of Nepal

Now the cat is out of the bag. “We’re heading back to the mountains but not to Nanga Parbat as some may have thought,” writes David Göttler on Facebook on this New Year’s Day. “We have decided to go to Dhaulagiri here in Nepal.” His teammate Hervé Barmasse had previously stated that they wanted to attempt an eight-thousander this winter in alpine style – without bottled oxygen, without Sherpas, without fixed high camps. At which mountain, the 45-year-old Italian had left open.

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Moro and Txikon to Manaslu – and Göttler and Barmasse?

Summit of Manaslu (l.)

That Simone Moro and Alex Txikon celebrate Christmas at home is rather rare. This year is no exception. The 55-year-old Italian and the 41-year-old Spaniard, who always climb without bottled oxygen in their projects, are proven specialists for winter expeditions. Alex has been in Nepal for some time, and now Simone has also arrived in the Himalayan state. Both want to try for the third winter in a row to climb the 8,163-meter-high Manaslu in western Nepal.

In the past two winters, their attempts had failed due to large snow masses on the eighth highest mountain on earth. Moro fears déjà vu. “The weather here has been fantastic for the last two months,” Simone said after arriving in Kathmandu. “I’m worried about that because it’s repeating the script that until Christmas it’s beautiful and then when the mountaineering winter starts, the astronomical winter, the conditions change.”

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The good avalanche

Matthias Baumann in front of the new hospital in Phakding
Matthias Baumann in front of the new hospital in Phakding

“It was very emotional,” Matthias Baumann tells me. In November, the chief physician from Tübingen was in Nepal with his family. It was a trip of three generations: Along for the ride were his life partner Eva, their joint two-year-old son and Matthias’ parents, 82 and 78 years old. The family trip took the Baumanns to Phakding in the Khumbu region, where the “Himalayan Sherpa Hospital” was inaugurated after five years of construction. Even state president Bidhya Devi Bhandari was present to cut the ribbon on the front door of the new clinic. “This was special for the people of Khumbu,” Matthias says. “It’s not too often that they get a visit from the head of state there.”

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School up – far west: “Encourage us even more to fulfill our dreams!”

Niruta Hamal, Khom Bahadur Shahi and Puspa Raj Shahi
Niruta Hamal, Khom Bahadur Shahi and Puspa Raj Shahi (from l. to r.)

“Everyone has the right to education.” What is written in the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948, also applies to Niruta Hamal, Puspa Raj Shahi and Khom Bahadur Shahi 74 years later. The three teenagers live in the small village of Rama, in Humla District, far in the west of Nepal. And like all children and young people, they have dreams for their lives. Dreams that will probably be shattered without education. Thanks to “School up – far west“, two new school buildings are now being built in their village with your donations.

“Previously, we had a thatched hut with clumsy dark rooms,” says 13-year-old Niruta, who is in fifth grade. “In the past, during the months of June and July, whenever there was thunder and wind, we had to carry our bags and return home due to fear. After building this concrete structure, we hope to regularize our classes and enjoying reading.” Niruta is especially excited about the new separate toilet for girls “that saves our time for study instead of going far distance in bushes”.

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Next Cho Oyu winter attempt of Gelje Sherpa

Gelje Sherpa
Gelje Sherpa

This Thursday, 1 December, the meteorological winter begins. And again Gelje Sherpa is drawn to the 8,188-meter-high Cho Oyu. The 30-year-old Nepali mountaineer wants to try again to climb the sixth highest mountain on earth via its Nepalese south side. The Norwegian Kristin Harila will probably also be there as his client. Gelje confirmed this to me: “Yeah, I’m planning to go with her [to Cho Oyu].”

Also on the team, according to Spanish sports newspaper Marca, is Brit Adriana Brownlee. The 21-year-old has so far scaled ten of the 14 eight-thousanders, with bottled oxygen, always led by Gelje.

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Mourning for American mountaineering legend Ed Webster

Ed Webster (1956-2022)

Ed Webster stands for one of the greatest adventures of all time on the highest mountain on earth. “Our new line up Everest was his idea,” writes British climber Stephen Venables following the death of his former teammate and friend. Webster died last weekend at the age of 66 after suffering a heart attack. The sudden death of the legendary American climber was “a huge shock,” Venables writes adding that Ed had been “a brilliant pioneer rock climber.”

In summer 1986, Webster opened a new route through the southeast flank of the 7,543-meter-high Changtse, located just north of Mount Everest – solo, without bottled oxygen. However, this was only the overture for the great coup two years later. In 1988 on Everest, Webster and Venables, together with Canadian Paul Teane and American Robert Anderson, achieved a milestone of mountaineering in the Himalayas. “The best ascent of Everest in terms and style of pure adventure,” Reinhold Messner later called Webster and Co.’s project.

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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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When mountaineering becomes an addiction

Snow ridge on Kokodak Dome
The mountain calls and we come

Do you feel the same way as me? When I surf around on Facebook, I’m constantly being offered some kind of sweater or T-shirt with the inscription “mountain addict” in sponsored posts. The reason is obvious: because of my posts, Mark Zuckerberg and co. have recognized my passion for mountains and sorted me into the appropriate pigeonhole. Scientists at the Medical University of Innsbruck in Austria have found out that “mountain addiction” is not just a cheap advertising slogan, but a real phenomenon. “Our approach was that one can also experience feelings of reward and happiness when climbing mountains just as one does when playing games, for example. We asked ourselves how great the addiction potential is in mountain sports,” psychiatrist and neurologist Katharina Hüfner tells me.

The 46-year-old professor led the study at the University of Innsbruck. For this purpose, a survey was launched in the German-speaking mountain scene. People who describe themselves as “regular” or even “extreme” mountaineers were invited. 335 people took part. 88 of them – a quarter of the respondents – were subsequently classified as mountain addicts.

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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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Snowman Race in Bhutan – Himalayan race against climate change

Holly Zimmermann at the Karchung La
Holly Zimmermann at the Karchung La

“It was purely a head decision, not one of the heart,” ultra runner Holly Zimmermann tells me. The U.S. resident of Germany dropped out on the second day of the “Snowman Race” in Bhutan.

“I would have loved to see more mountains of the Himalayas, the beautiful valleys and the hospitable people who live there. But I was already late on the first day and walked for several hours in the dark. And that’s borderline in the Himalayas.” When she reached the roughly 5,200-meter-high Karchung La on the second leg, Holly pulled the ripcord: “I was too slow. It was going to be another very long day. I have four children at home, ranging in age from 14 to 21. I told myself, ‘Safety first’ and turned around.”

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Nirmal Purja involved in fatal parachute accident

Nirmal Purja
Nirmal Purja (© Stefan Voitl / Red Bull Content Pool)

Nepal’s mountaineering star Nirmal, called ” Nims” Purja has escaped with his life in a serious parachute accident near the Spanish city of Seville. According to coinciding Spanish media reports, a 36-year-old fellow skydiver of Purja was killed in the accident on Friday.

The experienced skydiver, a soldier from the British special forces, had made a sport jump together with Purja from a height of around 4,500 meters, the Spanish news agency EFE reported. In freefall, the two first successfully completed some formation exercises and then opened their parachutes, it said. At around 1,000 meters, the two parachutes got tangled up.

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