New summit attempt on K2: Nirmal Purja ahead

Nirmal Purja on the summit of Gasherbrum II (rear right K2)

“I’m used to taking risks,” says the former soldier of the British Gurkha Regiment. Nirmal, called “Nims” Purja, has finished his military service. Currently the 36-years-old Nepalese is making headlines on the world’s highest mountains. Nims has set himself the goal of scaling all 14 eight-thousanders in seven months. And in spite of temporary financing problems his “Project Possible” is well on track. Although he arrived late in Pakistan, Purja has already summited Nanga Parbat and – within three days – Gasherbrum I and II. His progress report: “I have now completed 9x8000m peaks this season, making countless difficult decisions but always keeping myself and my team safe.” 

Continue reading “New summit attempt on K2: Nirmal Purja ahead”

Francesco Cassardo rescued from Gasherbrum VII

Back at base camp: Don Bowie, Marco Confortola (who coordinated the rescue at base camp), Cala Cimenti, Denis Urubko (from l. to r.)

Happy end of the dramatic rescue operation on Gasherbrum VII: This morning local time in Pakistan a rescue helicopter finally landed near Camp 1 at 5,910 meters to pick up the seriously injured Italian climber Francesco Cassardo and fly him to Skardu. There he is now being treated in a hospital. After Cassardo and his compatriot Cala Cimenti had climbed up to 150 meters below the summit on Saturday (only Cala reached the highest point later and thus achieved the first ascent of the 6,955-meter- high Gasherbrum VII – see update below), the 30-year-old had fallen on his descent about 450 meters deep. Francesco’s life was hanging by a thread. As reported, the deployment of a rescue helicopter had been delayed for bureaucratic reasons.

Continue reading “Francesco Cassardo rescued from Gasherbrum VII”

Gasherbrum VII: Where the hell is the rescue helicopter?

Cala Cimente (l.) and Francesco Cassardo (in 2018)

It is almost a miracle that the Italian climber Francesco Cassardo is still alive. After the first ascent of the 6,955-meter-high Gasherbrum VII in the Karakoram – together with his compatriot Cala Cimenti – the 30-year-old fell yesterday – as reported – on his descent about 500 meters deep. Cala, who had left the summit on skis, climbed up to the seriously injured Francesco and immediately sounded the alarm. First it was said that the Pakistani authorities had given the go-ahead for the deployment of a rescue helicopter, which would take off on Sunday immediately after sunrise.

Cimenti descended to Camp 1 and fetched the necessary equipment to spend the night at the side of the injured Cassardo. Cala was in constant contact with the Italian homeland via satellite phone and received medical advice. The injured Francesco is a doctor and is therefore able to assess his condition himself. According to his brother, Cassardo’s life was hanging by a thread during the night.

Continue reading “Gasherbrum VII: Where the hell is the rescue helicopter?”

Gasherbrum VII: Mountain accident after first ascent

The Gasherbrum massif

The joy lasted only briefly, now there is great concern. At late noon local time in Pakistan, Cala Cimentis’s wife celebrated the Italian climber’s summit success on Facebook: “He made it, he scaled the still untouched G VII. In a few minutes the descent begins on skis.” The 6,955-meter-high Gasherbrum VII had not been summited before. While Cimenti wanted to descend on skis – as he did at the beginning of the month after his summit success on Nanga Parbat – his companion Francesco Cassardo apparently descended on foot.

Continue reading “Gasherbrum VII: Mountain accident after first ascent”

Peter Hillary: „My father would have sighed“

Edmund Hillary (1953)

Selfies weren’t in then. Therefore there is no picture of the New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary on the summit of Mount Everest. It would have been too complicated to explain the camera to Tenzing Norgay up there at 8,850 meters, Hillary said later. And so the first ascender of Everest photographed his Nepalese companion at the summit on 29 May 1953. It remained the only summit picture.

“Sir Ed”, who died in January 2008, would have turned 100 this Saturday. On this occasion I spoke with Peter Hillary, the oldest of Ed’s three children. The 64-year-old is himself an adventurer with more than 40 expeditions behind him. Peter scaled Mount Everest twice (in 1990 and 2003), in 2008 he completed his collection of the “Seven Summits”, the highest mountains of all continents.

Peter, your father would have turned 100 on 20 July. The whole world knows him as the first ascender of Mount Everest. What kind of father was he?

Continue reading “Peter Hillary: „My father would have sighed“”

Summit push abandoned on K2, summit successes on G II

View from the K2 “Shoulder” to the “Bottleneck”

“It seems that K2 is still not ready this season,” Dawa Sherpa from the expedition operator “Seven Summit Treks” wrote on Facebook. The team’s Climbing Sherpas, who wanted to fix the ropes above the so-called “Bottleneck”, a narrow couloir at about 8,200 meters with huge seracs above, turned around. The snow above the Bottleneck was 1.40 meters deep, Dawa reported adding that two avalanches had swept down.

According to information from the Austrian operator “Furtenbach Adventures” two climbers suffered fractures. The Furtenbach team descended: “Everybody came to the same decision, it was way too dangerous with deep and wind affected snow.”

The Sherpas of the Nepalese operator “Imagine Nepal” came to this conclusion too, as they also turned back because of the deep snow. “They decided not to take risk and not to put other climbers in danger,” wrote expedition leader Mingma Gyalje Sherpa on Facebook.

Continue reading “Summit push abandoned on K2, summit successes on G II”

Slovenian climber Janez Svoljsak is dead

Janez Svoljsak (1993-2019)

Sad news from the Karakorum: Janez Svoljsak, a promising talent of the Slovenian climbing scene, died last weekend at the age of only 25 – asleep at the feet of the 6,651-meter-high Tahu Rutum in the Karakoram. Together with his Slovenian girlfriend Sara Jaklic, he had wanted to tackle the still unclimbed West Ridge of the mountain. According to Slovenian media reports Janez wheezed briefly while sleeping and then stopped breathing. All attempts at resuscitation were unsuccessful.

Continue reading “Slovenian climber Janez Svoljsak is dead”

Soon the season’s first summit successes on K2?

K2

The summit wave on K2 is approaching. The weather at the second highest mountain on earth is unusually stable this summer. From tomorrow, Thursday, it could get crowded at the highest point at 8,611 meters. About 120 climbers are on their way, about half of them have chosen the normal route via the Abruzzi Spur, the Southeast Ridge, the other half the Basque route (often also called Cesen route) via the South-Southeast Ridge. Above the “Shoulder”at about 8000 meters, the two routes come together.

Continue reading “Soon the season’s first summit successes on K2?”

Billi Bierling after her Broad Peak success: “My longest summit day”

Billi Bierling on the summit of Broad Peak

While vis-à-vis, on the 8,611- meter-high K2, the first summit attempts of the season are in progress, successes are already celebrated in the base camp below Broad Peak. On Sunday, among others, the team of the Swiss expedition operator “Kobler und Partner” reached the summit at 8,051 meters, including the Swiss Dani Arnold. For the 36-year-old, who had so far made headlines with his speed records on the classic north faces of the Alps, it was his first eight-thousander. He did not use bottled oxygen – just like Billi Bierling. The 52-year-old German mountaineer, journalist and Himalayan chronicler scaled – as reported – her sixth eight-thousander, the third of which without breathing mask. After returning to the base camp, she answered my questions.

Billi, you spent 25 hours on your summit push. That sounds like an ordeal. How exhausting was it? 

Continue reading “Billi Bierling after her Broad Peak success: “My longest summit day””

Broad Peak: Billi Bierlings sixth eight-thousander

Broad Peak

Hats off! Billi Bierling scaled Broad Peak today, Sunday – without bottled oxygen. According to her sister, she returned safely from her summit push after 25 hours – to Camp 3 at about 7,200 meters.

For the 52-year-old German mountaineer and journalist, who is en route with the Swiss expedition operator “Kobler & Partner“, it was the sixth eight-thousander success and the third after Manaslu in 2011 and Cho Oyu in 2016 that she managed without breathing mask. Billi had already attempted Broad Peak in 2015. Camp 3 was the last stop at that time, due to the high danger of avalanches.

Continue reading “Broad Peak: Billi Bierlings sixth eight-thousander”

Everest traffic jam: “I wished there was a cop”

Mariam Ktiri near Everest Base Camp

The whole world has seen the queue of people on the Mount Everest summit ridge, Mariam Ktiri got stuck in it. On 22 May, the German-Moroccan had reached the summit of the highest mountain on earth already in the night, at 2.35 am local time. On her descent she was caught in the traffic jam that became public through Nirmal Purja’s picture and made headlines all over the world. “Shortly below the summit, the masses ascended towards us. Many of the people were extremely slow. You could see that they were completely exhausted. It took us about an hour and a half to get below the Hillary Step,” Mariam tells me. “Thank God I still had enough oxygen. My Sherpa checked this all the time. At that moment I wished there was a cop to stop the people and say: ‘Wait until those who come from above have climbed down! Everything else makes no sense.'”

Continue reading “Everest traffic jam: “I wished there was a cop””

Kim Hong-bin: Without fingers on 13 eight-thousanders

Kim Hong-bin

He’s almost at the final goal of his dreams. Last Sunday, the South Korean Kim Hong-bin reached with his compatriots Cho Cheol-hee and Cheong Ha-young, the Nepalese Pechhumbe Sherpa and the Pakistani Muhammad Hussain the 8080-meter-high summit of Gasherbrum I in the Karakoram. It was Kim’s 13th eight-thousander success. To complete his collection, the 54-year-old still has to scale  Broad Peak. In this case, Kim would be the first disabled mountaineer to stand on all 14 eight-thousanders. Since 1991 he has been climbing without all ten fingers.

Continue reading “Kim Hong-bin: Without fingers on 13 eight-thousanders”

K2: Equal distribution on two routes

K2 Base Camp

The teams at the second highest mountain on earth have sorted themselves. As Herbert Hellmuth, German climber in the team of the Nepalese expedition operator “Seven Summit Treks” wrote me yesterday from the base camp, the summit candidates are distributed quite evenly on the normal route via the Abruzzi Spur and the Basque route (often also called Cesen route).

Herbert had a look around the base camp: Of the 120 climbers with permits (75 international mountaineers, 45 Climbing Sherpas from Nepal – they are spread over ten teams) 64 want to climb the Abruzzi route, 56 the Basque route. The Pakistani High Altitude Porters do not appear in this calculation as they do not need a permit. Around ten climbers who had granted a permit had already left the mountain, Herbert writes me: “All in all not such an overcrowded year.”

Continue reading “K2: Equal distribution on two routes”

Thomas Huber before his expedition to Choktoi: “Open for all mountains”

Thomas Huber (r.) with Yannick Boissenot (l.) and Simon Gietl

“I don’t go to the mountains for social media, I go to the mountains to climb,” Thomas Huber tells me. “In this regard I’m old school.” The 52-year-old, the older of the two Huber brothers, wants to report only after his return from the Karakoram what he and his two companions have experienced. On Monday he will leave for Pakistan along with the 34-year-old South Tyrolean Simon Gietl and the Frenchman Yannick Boissenot. Thomas doesn’t want to talk about the exact destination, he only reveals that they head for the mountains around the Choktoi glacier. In summer 2018, the trio – then accompanied by Rainer Treppte – had set out to climb the still unmastered North Face of the 7,145-meter-high Latok I, but had been unable to enter the wall due to the great danger of avalanches.

Thomas, can I say that the mountains at the Choktoi glacier have become something like your second living room?

Continue reading “Thomas Huber before his expedition to Choktoi: “Open for all mountains””

First ascent by Simon Messner, furthermore summit success on Broad Peak

Simon Messner in the Karakoram

He‘s a chip off the old block. Simon Messner, 28-year-old son of the legendary South Tyrolean climber Reinhold Messner, says he succeeded the first ascent of the 6,200-meter-high Toshe III in the Karakoram last Saturday. The widely glaciated Toshe mountain range lies about 18 kilometers as the crow flies southwest of the eight-thousander Nanga Parbat. Simon climbed in a style that should please his 74-year-old father.

Light and fast

Toshe III

“Due to the difficult snow conditions, the warm temperatures and the very unstable weather I decided to climb the mountain in a single solo push from Advanced Base Camp (at approximately 4,600m),” Simon Messner writes on Facebook: “The plan was to climb light and fast to avoid the bad weather coming up and although I had to track every single meter I reached the summit at 9:30 am (needing 5,5h in total).” The avalanche risk on the descent was high, according to Simon, but he was able to reached the base camp on the same day.

Continue reading “First ascent by Simon Messner, furthermore summit success on Broad Peak”
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial