Summit success reported from Dhaulagiri

Mingma’s team on Dhaulagiri

The first success report from a commercial expedition this spring season on Nepal’s eight-thousanders is in. The operator Imagine Nepal let it be known that today 22 team members reached the 8,167-meter-high summit of Dhaulagiri in the west of the country: expedition leader Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, the head of the company and eleven Nepalese Climbing Sherpas, as well as ten clients from seven countries. It was not disclosed whether anyone climbed without bottled oxygen. Mingma, one of ten Nepali climbers who succeeded in the first winter ascent of K2 in 2021, had announced two days ago that the team’s summit push was underway.

Mount Everest: Route through Khumbu Icefall completed

Dangerous job: Icefall Doctor in the Khumbu Icefall

The season of commercial expeditions on Mount Everest can begin. The Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC) announced today that the six Icefall Doctors – Ang Sarki Sherpa, Dawa Nuru Sherpa, Pemba Tshering Sherpa, Sonam Tshering Sherpa, Chewang Nuru Sherpa and Ngima Gyaljen Sherpa – have successfully completed their work in and above the dangerous Khumbu Icefall after two and a half weeks.

Every year, the Icefall Doctors prepare the route for the commercial teams – with fixed ropes and ladders up to Camp 2 at around 6,400 meters. They also maintain the route until the end of the season in early June. For this service, the teams have to pay $600 per expedition member to the SPCC.

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Mountain tourists return to Nepal

Namche Bazaar

Ang Dorjee Sherpa is pleased. “Today 471 trekking tourists arrived in Namche, a new record this spring,” the 53-year-old owner of the “A.D. Friendship Lodge” in Namche Bazaar, the main village of the Everest region, wrote me yesterday, Tuesday. By comparison, last fall there were a peak of about 250 new arrivals per day.

Lodge owners like Ang Dorjee are thirsty for guests – two lean years in the wake of the corona pandemic lie behind the people of the Khumbu region, almost all of whom live from mountain tourism. According to Ang Dorjee, 33 planes and helicopters landed at the airfield in Lukla, the gateway to the Khumbu, on Tuesday. That almost sounds like normalcy again.

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Mourning for Pakistan’s legendary mountaineer “Little Karim”

Little Karim, Kurt Diemberger, Stefan Nestler
Legendary Pakistani high altitude porter “Little Karim” (l., on the right Kurt Diemberger and me in summer 2004)

The only 1.58 meter “Little” was one of the greats. According to Pakistani media reports, the legendary Pakistani mountaineer Mohammad Karim, whom everyone only called “Little Karim” because of his height, died today at the age of 71 in a military hospital in the city of Rawalpindi. Karim was suffering from liver cancer, and the regional government of Gilgit-Baltistan had only recently declared that it would cover the costs of “Little Karim’s” treatment. As a result, he had been transported from his home in the mountain village of Hushe to Rawalpindi.

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Spring season on the eight-thousanders of Nepal: In the starting blocks

Hans Wenzl (at Everest Base Camp in 2017)

The spring climbing season in Nepal starts moving. The first foreign mountaineers have already arrived in the Himalayan state, among them Austrian Hans Wenzl. The 51-year-old is attempting the 8,091-meter-high Annapurna in the west of the country this spring. Hans, who earns his living not as a professional climber but as a foreman for an Austrian construction company, has already scaled nine eight-thousanders – all without bottled oxygen, including Mount Everest (in 2017) and K2 (in 2019).

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Mountaineering legend Kurt Diemberger celebrates his 90th birthday

Kurt Diemberger
Kurt Diemberger

In summer 2004, the same problem befell us. On the journey to K2, the second highest mountain on earth in Pakistan, both mountaineering legend Kurt Diemberger and I contracted diarrhea that put us out of action for two days. As we later discovered in conversation, we had both eaten eggs in a hotel in the town of Chilas on the Karakoram Highway that were past their prime. With rather wobbly legs, we set off as planned to trek across the Baltoro Glacier.

At the time, Kurt was accompanying a large Italian expedition as guest of honor, which had set itself the goal of another ascent of the mountain on the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of K2 by the Italians Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli – five climbers of the team later succeeded in reaching the summit, all without the use of bottled oxygen. I was on a reporting trip to K2 because of the anniversary, which Kurt described to me as his “dream and destiny mountain.”

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Nepal ahead of spring season: Fewer climbers on Mount Everest?

View of Mount Everest (l.) and Lhotse (from Namche)

And again it will probably be a difficult spring season in the mountains of Nepal. In 2020 nothing went at all because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, a wave of infections also hit the base camps on Mount Everest and Dhaulagiri – the fact that the Nepalese government has not admitted this to this day is and remains a scandal. And now in spring 2022, the Russian war in Ukraine is causing uncertainty worldwide – certainly also among mountaineers.

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#ClimbersForPeace: When Russians and Ukrainians made common cause (in the mountains)

Special stamp commemorating the successful Soviet Everest expedition in 1982

It takes courage to speak out against your own government in a time of war. Especially when that government is threatening prison sentences of up to 15 years if “false information” is spread about the “special military action,” as President Vladimir Putin calls the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Some top Russian mountaineers, such as Alexander Gukov, Evgeniy Glazunov and Dmitry Pavlenko, were not impressed, but took a clear public stand against Putin and his war of aggression.

Pavlenko’s tone, however, is becoming increasingly frustrated. “As bitter as it may be, we have to admit that Putin’s propaganda has won in Russia and parts of the CIS region. In twenty years, it has managed to turn over a hundred million people into flash drives. Now you can pour everything into them, and they will reproduce it and support it with all their might,” Dmitry wrote on Facebook today.  “This war has shown me that I have lost my homeland for good.”

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Jost Kobusch after his Everest expedition: “It was a tough winter”

Jost Kobusch
Jost Kobusch

For the second time, Jost Kobusch returns from Mount Everest with many experiences, but without a summit success. However, he had not set his sights on Everest summit this winter. His goal was to climb to 8,000 meters – if conditions allowed. But that’s exactly what didn’t happen this winter. Today, the 29-year-old German climber returned to the Nepalese capital Kathmandu. His flight home is scheduled for 11 March.

Jost, you have now spent two months almost continuously at an altitude of above 5,000 meters. How are you physically?

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Cho Oyu: Now with joint forces

Cho Oyu
Nepalese side of Cho Oyu

After the second summit push last Monday was also not crowned with success, Gelje Sherpa has declared an end to the attempts over the Southeast Ridge of the eight-thousander Cho Oyu for the time being. “We put all our efforts into this push,” the 29-year-old let it be known. “We were so close. But our health and safety is the priority.”

According to Gelje, the Nepalese climbers reached an altitude of around 7,900 meters: “However, some of our team fell ill, there were also some issues with an oxygen mask and we decided that with this, the addition of incredibly strong winds up to 100kph and a very technical rock face near the ridge towards the summit it was time to retreat to basecamp.”

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#ClimbersForPeace: Russian climbers condemn attack on Ukraine

Alexander Gukov
Alexander Gukov

Russian climbers are raising their voices against the Ukraine war – regardless of possible repression by authorities in their home country. “We, the climbers of Russia, oppose the military actions that the Russian army is conducting on the territory of Ukraine. We know firsthand how fragile human life is,” reads an open letter to President Vladimir Putin published on Facebook by top Russian climber Alexander Gukov. “We consider it a crime for the Russian army to invade the territory of Ukraine, as a result of which the people of both countries suffer. This is a stain on the history of Russia, with which not only we, but also our children will have to live.”

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Winter expeditions: Down – and over?

Sunrise on Mount Everest
Sunrise on Mount Everest (in fall 2019)

This Monday marks the end of the meteorological winter. All attempts to reach an eight-thousander summit in this cold season were unsuccessful. On Mount Everest, Jost Kobusch returned to the valley today after spending three days and nights at almost 6,500 meters.

“The weather forecast predicted higher speeds at the last minute, which would have made a climb too much of an unnecessary risk,” Jost writes on Facebook. “After all, the route remains technical. And believe me, it was definitely exciting enough to climb down the hard ice backwards and in the dark at high wind speeds.”

The 29-year-old German climber had already declared when setting out on his last ascent that he no longer saw a realistic chance of reaching the summit at 8,849 meters. In the best case, he could perhaps reach higher than during his first attempt two years ago, Jost had said. In 2020, he had reached the West Shoulder of Everest at just below 7,400 meters. But nothing came of it now, the strong wind did not abate. “It was really stormy and maybe a touch worse than I had hoped,” Kobusch summed up his expedition: “But at the end of the day, I learned a lot and am very grateful for the experience.”

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#ClimbersForPeace

I am depressed. The war in Ukraine 🇺🇦 lies on my soul like a heavy burden. I think of the people there who fear for their lives, of the killed, the injured, the displaced, of the suffering, the tears that are shed. In war, there are only losers. And I despair that there are still and always people who use war and violence to secure or enrich their personal power. They have never been in the right, and they never will be!

I have met climbers from all over the world. Very few were caught up in nationalistic thinking. Of course, there were some with an exaggerated ego. But even these usually felt like citizens of the world, open to people from other countries, cultures and languages. We are all united by our love for the mountains. Let us now raise our voices for the love of life! Against death and violence, for peace!

Jost Kobusch on Mount Everest: As high as possible – Waiting for summit chance on K2

Jost Kobusch as he set off
Jost Kobusch as he set off

It is the last ascent in his second solo winter attempt on Mount Everest. In view of the continuing strong winds, Jost Kobusch knows that – as two years ago – he will not reach the summit of the highest mountain on earth at 8,849 meters. He is aware that “the chance of reaching the summit is practically non-existent,” the 29-year-old German climber let it be known on social networks. “The only remaining hope is that I will get higher than last time, see more and gain experience. Maybe I’ll even beat my own record!”

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Gelje Sherpa’s team abandons summit attempt on Cho Oyu

Gelje Sherpa's team on ascent on Cho Oyu
Gelje Sherpa’s team on ascent on Cho Oyu

At 7,560 meters on the Southeast ridge of Cho Oyu was the end of the line. Due to announced gusts of up to 100 kilometers per hour in the upper zone of the eight-thousander, the ten-member Nepalese team led by Gelje Sherpa abandoned its summit attempt – “because the (weather) window was too short to get going,” as Ashok Rai, manager of the expedition, told the Internet portal “Everest Chronicle”: “There will be a second attempt once the weather improves.”

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