Eight-thousanders aren’t dumps!

Old fixed ropes on House’s Chimney

I don’t give a damn. According to this maxim many mountaineers seem to be en route on the highest mountains in the world. Instead of removing their fixed ropes, they leave them hanging, instead of taking their garbage with them, they leave it lying there. Vassily Pivtsov, leader of the K2 winter expedition from Kazakhstan, Russia and Kyrgyzstan, reported that he and his team mates had found a lot of used and full oxygen bottles below House’s Chimney, one of the key points of the route via the Southeast Ridge, as well as further rubbish like old tents.

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Pivtsov’s team on K2 at 7,000 meters

The spot Pivtsov and Co. reached on Saturday

They defied the wind. On K2, the second highest mountain on earth, winter expedition leader Vassiliy Pivtsov, his Kazakh compatriot Tursunali Aubakirov, Russian Roman Abildaev and Kyrgyz Mikhail Danichkin reached an altitude of 7,000 today. The four climbers pitched their tents below the so-called “Black Pyramid”, one of the key points of the route via the Southeast ridge: 400 meters of steep rock and ice, often with dangerous layers of snow on the rock slabs.

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Then I’ll just let myself be flown out

Helicopter takes off from Syangboche Airfield above Namche Bazaar

In the ongoing discussion about the large-scale insurance fraud caused by faked helicopter rescue flights in Nepal, one aspect is missing out in my opinion: As reprehensible as the illegal activities of the trekking agencies, guides and hospitals involved in the scandal are and must therefore be punished, the attitude of many trekking tourists and mountaineers who let themselves be flown out by helicopter also plays a role. The question must be allowed: How willingly has one or the other alleged patient gone on board?

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More fuss about faked rescue flights in Nepal

Rescue helicopter at Everest Base Camp

The scandal about allegedly faked rescue flights in Nepal continues to make waves. An ultimatum from the Irish company Traveller Assist, which represents several international travel insurance companies, caused a great stir among the government in Kathmandu. In an open letter Traveller Assist had announced that the insurance companies they represent would no longer issue policies for Nepal trips from 15 February unless the government took immediate legal action against the eleven trekking companies and four hospitals involved in the scandal. After a crisis meeting of the government, Tourism Minister Rabindra Adhikari rejected the accusation. “We are committed to cracking down on insurance fraud,” Adhikari told the “Nepali Times”, pointing out that new rules and a commission had been set up last year to put an end to illegal activity. “After that, the number of cases of helicopter rescues, especially unnecessary ones, had actually started to drop. Which is why we are concerned by the continued leaks to the international press, and the threatening tone of this letter.”

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Study: At least one third of Himalayan glaciers gone by 2100

Flip sounds the alarm. “This is the climate crisis you haven’t heard of,” says Philippus, called “Flip” Wester. The Dutch scientist is a world-renowned expert on water resource management. On behalf of the “International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)” in Kathmandu, Wester has led what is probably the most comprehensive study to date on the state of the Himalayan and Hindu Kush mountain regions. More than 350 scientists were involved. Their forecasts are alarming: Even if it were possible to meet the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement 2015 on climate change – to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – one third of the glaciers in the Himalayas and Hindu Kush would melt by 2100. In the event that the climate protection policy fails, the study predicts a global temperature rise of five degrees, two-thirds of the glaciers on the world’s highest mountains region would then have disappeared by the end of the century.

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8000er winter expeditions: Between flight and race

Masses of snow on Manaslu

Winter expeditions to eight-thousanders are not a walk in the park. This winter proves that once again. As reported, Manaslu in Nepal has already put the Italian Simone Moro and his Nepalese climbing partner Pemba Gyalje Sherpa to rout. According to Simone, fresh snow in the base camp piled up to six meters. The danger of avalanches was correspondingly high. Time to disappear: “Sometimes giving up is an essential ingredient for future success,” Moro wrote on Facebook. “With this decision I want to honor the nickname ‘winter maestro’ I have been given.” Having scaled Shishapangma, Makalu, Gasherbrum II and Nanga Parbat in the cold season, the 51-year-old had succeeded first winter ascents on four of the 14 eight-thousanders. Today is the eighth anniversary of Simone’s success on G II in the Karakoram.

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Two Polish climbers flown out of K2 Base Camp

Alex Txikon on the Abruzzi route

What bad luck! Only with delay Waldemar Kowalewski from Poland – as reported – had joined the team of the Spaniard Alex Txikon. And now the K2 winter expedition has already ended for the 45-year-old. Kowalewski had been hit by a stone or a block of ice on his left collarbone on his descent from Camp 1 at about 6,100 meters to the Advanced Base Camp. “He had to go down at a slow pace but he feels calmer now at Base Camp,” Txikon’s team announced after the incident. Waldemar was flown out to Skardu today. Then the rescue helicopter picked up another Pole from Txikon’s team: Marek Klonowski had heart problems and could therefore no longer stay in the base camp at the foot of the second highest mountain in the world. He hopes to be able to return in about ten days.

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Tima Deryan: Strong Arab woman heading for Everest

Tima Deryan

She does not fit into the clichés that many people in the West have of Arab women. Fatima, called Tima, Deryan does not stand in the shadow of a man. She is cosmopolitan, self-confident and independent. She has founded a company in Dubai where she lives – and she is a mountaineer: Tima has already scaled five of the “Seven Summits”, the highest mountains of all continents. Mount Everest and Mount Vinson in the Antarctica are still missing from her collection.

On 23 March, the 26-year-old will fly to Nepal to climb the highest mountain on earth. On the trek to Everest Base Camp, Tima will certainly pay special attention to the yaks. In October 2017 on her way to Island Peak, she was attacked by a yak when she had just crossed a bridge over the Dudh Kosi between Phakding and Namche Bazaar. She was flipped over by the yak. The horns hit her at the thigh, Deryan was slightly injured.

Tima, how did you become a mountaineer?

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Winter expeditions: Waiting for end of snowfall

Igloos in K2 Base Camp

Bad weather forces the climbers of the winter expeditions on the eight-thousanders K2 and Nanga Parbat in Pakistan and on Manaslu in Nepal to inactivity. The team from Kazakhstan, Russia and Kyrgyzstan led by Vassiliy Pivtsov returned to K2 Base Camp yesterday after the seven climbers, according to their own words, had fixed ropes on the classical Abruzzi route up to an altitude of 6,300 meters. The Spaniard Alex Txikon’s team has not yet ascended, but built in the base camp three igloos, in which a total of ten to 14 people can sleep. Alex was thrilled after his first igloo night.

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Rugby on Everest

Mount Everest has long been an event venue. Thus in 2009, the Nepalese government moved a cabinet meeting to the base camp at the foot of Mount Everest to attract media attention. Also there the British DJ Paul Oakenfold gave a benefit concert in 2017. Last year a British star chef organized the “world’s highest dinner party” on the Tibetan north side of Everest: exclusive dining on the North Col at about 7,000 meters, with a white tablecloth, candlestick and champagne. And it goes on. Next spring, Everest will probably host the highest rugby match of all time.

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Shutdown stops Kobusch at Denali

Jost Kobusch in Alaska

US President Donald Trump has also slowed down Jost Kobusch with his shutdown of the federal administration. The German climber was suddenly standing in front of a locked door in Talkeetna in Alaska. Jost read on a sign behind the glass pane that the rangers’ office was closed “due to the lapse in funding of the federal government budget”. The Denali National Park administration sent an email to the 26-year-old informing him that he would probably not receive any more news due to the shutdown for the time being. “Just watch the news,” he was recommended.

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Nanga Parbat: Nardi and Co. in Camp 3

Daniele Nardi in Camp 3

While the winter expedition teams at the eight-thousanders K2 and Manaslu have only just moved into their base camps, the Italian Daniele Nardi and his three companions on Nanga Parbat are in a more advanced phase. Today Daniele, the Brit Tom Ballard and the two Pakistani mountaineers Rahmat Ullah Baig and Karim Hayat ascended again to Camp 3 at 5,700 meters, directly below the Mummery Rib. Five days ago, the four climbers had deposited a tent there and then returned to base camp.

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In their husbands’ Everest footsteps

Furdiki Sherpa (l.) and Nima Doma Sherpa (r.)

Mount Everest took their husbands. And the fathers of their children. Nevertheless, Nima Doma Sherpa and Furdiki Sherpa want to climb the highest mountain on earth this spring. “We are doing our expedition for the respect of our late husbands because they were mountaineers too,” Nima Doma replies to my question about the purpose of their project. “And we want to motivate all the widows.” Everest has left a lot of single mothers behind. According to the mountaineering chronicle “Himalayan Database”, 37 Sherpas have died there in the past 20 years alone. Furdiki’s husband, Mingma Sherpa, belonged to the so-called “Icefall Doctors” who set up and secure the route through the Khumbu Icefall every year. The 44-year-old died in a fall into a crevasse on 7 April 2013. One year later, on 18 April 2014, Nima Doma Sherpa’s husband, Tshering Wangchu Sherpa, was one of the 16 Nepalese victims of the major avalanche accident in the Icefall

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Winter expeditions are on

Alex Txikon (l.) and Simone Moro in Lhukla

Several winter expeditions in the Himalayas and Karakoram started in the first days of the year. Two of the three climbers who had succeeded the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat in 2016 met in Lhukla in Nepal, however now with different goals: The Spaniard Alex Txikon wants to tackle K2 in Pakistan, the last remaining eight-thousander to be climbed for the first time in the cold season, the Italian Simone Moro is drawn to Manaslu again. The 51-year-old and the South Tyrolean Tamara Lunger had failed on the 8167-meter-high mountain in western Nepal in 2015 because of the enormous snow masses of that winter. This year, according to the Kathmandu-based newspaper “The Himalayan Times”, Moro plans to climb with the Nepalese Pemba Gyalje Sherpa on the normal route without bottled oxygen. In order to acclimatize, they wanted to climb the 6,476-meter-high Mera Peak in the Khumbu region. Continue reading “Winter expeditions are on”