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.”
Ralf was referring to the eight-thousander “shrink list” that a team led by German chronicler Eberhard Jurgalski had published in early July and that has been the source of heated debate in the scene since then. For ten years, Jurgalski and Co. had examined summit photos of the 52 climbers who claimed to have scaled all 14 eight-thousanders.
Their research revealed that to date, only three climbers had reached all 14 very highest points of these mountains without any doubt: the American Ed Viesturs (between 1989 and 2005) and the Finn Veikka Gustafsson (between 1993 and 2009), both without bottled oxygen on all eight-thousanders, as well as – mostly with breathing mask – the Nepalese Nirmal, called “Nims,” Purja (between 2016 and 2021).
Error admitted several times
Dujmovits had already publicly declared three years ago that he had been mistaken about the summit on Manaslu in 2007. The basis was already then the findings of Jurgalski’s group of chroniclers. “Now we know I wasn’t at the summit. I can admit that without any problems,” Ralf had told me in 2019. “A strong wind blew that day. I wasn’t able to look behind the supposed summit cornice. The sky was full of spindrift. I climbed another three meters further, but I didn’t see a higher point.” On his Instagram account, Dujmovits had since repeated several times that he had missed the “True Summit” of Manaslu in 2007.
Booking before publication of the list
In fall 2021, Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, head of expedition operator Imagine Nepal, led his commercial team to the very highest point. Australian climber Jackson Groves documented this with impressive drone images. These images inspired him to return to Manaslu, says Ralf: “I already expressed my interest to Mingma at the end of last year to join his team in fall 2022.”
Dujmovits places special emphasis on the fact that he already made a binding booking for the Manaslu expedition on 8 June – exactly one month before Jurgalski first published his new list of eight-thousander climbers on his website 8000ers.com (on 30 July, Jurgalski and his team followed up with an enlarged list including additional information).
“I can’t do anything at all with this shrink list,” Ralf tells me by satellite phone from Manaslu Base Camp. He says that, among other things, it does not cope with the pioneering achievements of deceased legendary eight-thousander climbers such as Jercy Kukuczka or Erhard Loretan.
He has no problem with the old list, Dujmovits says: “I really like being 16th on this list. And I’m absolutely not concerned with achieving a different rank now.” He simply wants to climb these last meters to the highest point of Manaslu – for himself personally, not for Jurgalski or anyone else, says Ralf: “I have zero stress that I have to go up there now at any price. If it’s just not meant to be, then I drive home quite relaxed.”
Without bottled oxygen
Dujmovits had climbed on all his successes on eight-thousanders – with the exception of Mount Everest in 1992 – without bottled oxygen. He wants to keep it that way now on Manaslu as well. “I’m definitely not going to the summit with supplemental oxygen,” Ralf says. “Even if I were to run out of air at the point on the ridge where I’ve been before, I wouldn’t reach for the bottle. That makes no sense to me – just to be able to climb on a few more meters.”
So far everything as planned
After recently overcoming a COVID-19 infection, the 60-year-old feels sufficiently fit to reach the “True Summit” of Manaslu: “In terms of condition, I’m not far from where I was when I was 40. I started very early with interval runs and slowly increased the training program. I’ve been working hard on myself.”
So far, acclimatization is going according to plan. Dujmovits has already spent two nights in Camp 1 at 5,800 meters, in between he ascended to Camp 2 at around 6,400 meters. Today, Thursday, he started his next rotation. This time he climbed directly to Camp 2 where he will sleep. If possible, he wants to continue from there towards Camp 3.
“True Summit” as the icing on the cake
Ralf has come to terms with the fact that several hundred climbers are trying to climb Manaslu this fall. “I have already enjoyed trekking to Manaslu very much. And I’m glad to be here to experience a very different kind of expedition than I usually had for myself,” Dujmovits assures. The “True Summit”, of course, would be the icing on the cake. “I’m looking forward to hopefully covering those last few meters now.”
Update 16 September: According to operator Elite Expeditions, a seven-man fixed-rope team led by Phur Bahadur Gurung reached the “True Summit” of Manaslu yesterday at 8:28 p.m. local time. The route for this fall season was thus opened, it said.
2 Replies to “Ralf Dujvomits at Manaslu: “Only for me, not for a list””
Stefan, I find Ralf’s recent comments disappointing.
He has always been very honest, open and helpful in the research about Manaslu and other 8000m summit discrepancies. He was one of the few, maybe the ONLY, one of the 14x8K climbers to publicly come out, acknowledge the issue and admit he made a mistake. He deserves a lot of credit for this and I have tried to give him this credit whenever I have been asked about it.
For my full views on this matter I would refer readers to the AAJ feature I wrote on this matter two years ago:
It was the New York Times that picked up this issue and introduced the competition between names:
To me the 8000er research was never about lists or ‘rank’ – that is a word I have never used. Ralf and certain others are making this about ‘rankings’, not me.
This obsession with rank and competition is THEIR obsession it seems, perhaps an indicator of their true motivations, sadly, but certainly not mine.
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