“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.”
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.
Gerlinde and Manfred are on board. Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner – the first woman in the world to climb all eight-thousanders without bottled oxygen – and her partner, the yoga teacher Manfred Jericha want to collect donations for the aid project “School up – far west”, which I started, in their lectures and seminars. I am very happy about this prominent support from Austria and hereby expressly invite other mountaineers to join in.
Disappointed, sad, tired. This is how Ralf Dujmovits describes his emotional state after his failed expedition to the eight-thousander Manaslu in western Nepal. Disappointed because he had to abandon three summit attempts due to bad weather. Sad about the accidents on the mountain with dead and injured climbers. Tired because the descent in the highest avalanche danger is in his bones. “It has been hissing all day around. Here a crack, there a crack, big snow slabs were released. The descent day was a horror,” Germany’s most successful high-altitude mountaineer tells me after his return. “That’s why I’m still so knocked out.”
A serious avalanche accident has occurred on the 5,670-meter-high Draupadi ka Danda II in northern India. The Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, a climbing school based in Uttarkashi, a town about 60 kilometers west of Tibet, said the avalanche hit a team of 34 trainees and seven instructors. Four bodies have been recovered so far, it said. The Indian news agency PTI reported at least ten dead, citing information from officials. Several people are reportedly still missing.
“It wasn’t meant to be,” says Ralf Dujmovits. He made three summit attempts during his Manaslu expedition, all three failed due to bad weather. Twice, fresh snow and the associated high avalanche risk stopped Germany’s most successful high-altitude mountaineer. Once it was extremely strong wind that made his ascent impossible without bottled oxygen. This time, the 60-year-old did not get beyond Camp 4 at 7,400 meters. “It was an absolute roller coaster of emotions,” Ralf tells me from the base camp before heading back to Kathmandu.
Dujmovits had already thought he was on the summit of Manaslu in spring 2007. As it turned out later, however, he had missed the “True Summit”. That is why Ralf had now returned to Manaslu once again. “If you’re an honest person and you realize you’ve made a mistake, of course you want to fix it,” he had told me before leaving for Nepal. “This is all about me, not about a (eight-thousander shrink) list or anything else.”
Actually, Ralf had planned today, Monday, as the summit day for an “attempt at the last minute,” as he had put it. In terms of weather, it would even have fit. “You won’t believe it. Today is the most magnificent day of the entire expedition,” Ralf says, and I can literally hear him shaking his head. “But because of all the fresh snow, it’s just way too dangerous.”
For the second time in a week, a large avalanche went down on the eight-thousander Manaslu in western Nepal. It hit the base camp today at around 4,800 meters. The videos circulating on social media (see below) , show a huge cloud of snow sweeping over parts of the camp. More than 30 tents of six teams were destroyed, writes Tashi Lakpa Sherpa of the largest Nepalese operator Seven Summit Treks on Instagram. His team was well, he said. Other operators, such as Imagine Nepal, also rushed to assure that neither clients nor staff had been injured.
Seven Summit Treks also reported on two avalanches that had hit higher camps. According to information that reached me from the base camp, at least one Sherpa was killed. At least half a meter of fresh snow fell on the mountain overnight, it was said. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that no more bad news will reach us!
“Unfortunately, the weather conditions didn’t let them go for another attempt of a summit attack today,” reads Polish ski mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel’s Instagram account. “The team stays overnight in Camp 2, and tomorrow will decide whether to continue the summit push. If the weather forecast is confirmed, it will be possible on Sunday/Monday.”
Then the wind on Mount Everest is expected to calm down significantly. From Tuesday, however, new snowfall must be expected. And from Thursday at the latest, the wind could freshen up again. So – if at all – only a small weather window will open up for Bargiel and Co.
Now it has become a sad certainty: The world-renowned ski mountaineer Hilaree Nelson is dead. As reported by the newspaper “Kathmandu Post”, the body of the 49-year-old US American was discovered and recovered on the south side of Manaslu at an altitude of about 6,000 meters. A rescue helicopter had previously dropped off three Nepalese guides and Hilaree’s partner Jim Morrison at an altitude of 6500 meters to search for the missing climber. After they discovered Hilaree’s body, it was first flown to the base camp. From there it would be taken to Kathmandu, they said.
Ski mountaineer Hilaree Nelson is still missing on Manaslu. A rescue helicopter took off today. The crew searched the south side of the eight-thousander in western Nepal for the 49-year-old – so far without success. Also on board was Nelson’s partner, Jim Morrison.
The couple from the USA had reached the “True Summit” of Manaslu at 8,163 meters on Monday – with bottled oxygen. Then they started their planned ski descent. What exactly happened then is not yet clear. Early reports said Nelson had fallen into a 25-metre-deep crevasse in the summit zone. It was later reported that her ski blade skidded off and she fell into the deep. There was also talk of an avalanche that caused her fall. The helicopter search for Hilaree is scheduled to continue this Wednesday.
According to the newspaper “The Himalayan Times”, around a dozen climbers have been injured in an avalanche on Manaslu today. Some are said to be in critical condition. Other reports speak of at least one dead. The snow masses went down below Camp 4, which is located at around 7,400 meters, it said. Bad weather prevented the rescue operation with helicopters. Several hundred mountaineers are said to have set off on summit attempts at the weekend.
According to information that reached me from Camp 3, most of the injured are Sherpas who wanted to bring equipment to Camp 4. They were taken down to Camp 3, from where they are to be flown out by helicopter – as soon as the weather permits.
He’s ready. “We spent a few days in Camp 2, as another part of the acclimatization. I was able to reach almost 8000 m, and then ski down to Camp 3 (at around 7300 meters) where we spent the night with Janusz (Golab),” writes the Pole Andrzej Bargiel on Instagram. In the base camp at the foot of Mount Everest, the 34-year-old is now gathering strength: “Now waiting for weather window, and (then) straight to the top!”
Despite difficult conditions on the mountain, a few summit successes were reported today from the eight-thousander Manaslu in western Nepal. The two Sherpas Dawa Ongju and Pasdawa as well as the Norwegian Kristin Harila would reached today at 2.36 p.m. local time the highest point at 8,163 meters, let the Nepalese operator 8K Expeditions know. For the Nepalese-Norwegian trio, who are always en route with bottled oxygen, it was already the twelfth eight-thousander summit success this year.
“This was hard, but we wanted to summit Manaslu now to avoid the crowd of climbers waiting in the basecamp. Heavy snowfall and high risk of avalanches made this ascend challenging, so I am glad we made it,” Kristin said in a message from the summit of Manaslu.
Germany’s most successful high-altitude mountaineer wants to do it again. Ralf Dujmovits is currently giving the 8,163-meter-high Manaslu in western Nepal another try. Actually, he thought back in spring 2007 that he had added the eighth-highest mountain on earth to his list of eight-thousanders.
But three years ago at the latest, it turned out that Dujmovits and six of his clients at the time had mistakenly missed the very highest point at the end of the summit ridge. “If you’re an honest person and you realize you’ve made a mistake, of course you want to fix it,” the 60-year-old told me even before he left for Nepal. “This is all about me, not about a list or anything else. I have nothing to do with that at all.”
If you want to experience Mount Everest in solitude, you should come there in fall. The five-member expedition of Polish ski mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel is (at least so far) the only one to which the Nepalese government has granted Everest permits for this season. The 34-year-old wants to climb the highest mountain on earth without bottled oxygen and ski down from the highest point.
On his ascent he will be accompanied by the experienced 54-year-old Janusz Golab, who in 2012 succeeded with his compatriot Adam Bielecki in the Karakoram in Pakistan in the first winter ascent of the 8,080-meter-high Gasherbrum I. Bargiel climbed with Golab and filmmaker Carlos Llerandi yesterday to Camp 2 at around 6,400 meters to acclimatize further.