First black African woman on Everest

Saray Khumalo in Everest Base Camp

The weather window on Mount Everest is still a little bit open, but stronger winds are expected from Friday onwards. Another 30 climbers took the chance today and reached the highest point on earth at 8,850 meters. Among them was the 45-year-old Brit Kenton Cool, who scaled Mount Everest for the 14th time. A whole continent celebrates Saray Khumalo. The 47-year-old South African was the first black woman from Africa to stand on the roof of the world today. The businesswoman, who works for a major financial services group in Johannesburg, has been climbing mountains only for seven years.

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Kami Rita Sherpa: Everest record holder with humility towards the mountain

Kami Rita Sherpa on Everest ascent

“I can climb for a few more years,” said Kami Rita Sherpa some time ago in a BBC interview. “I am healthy. I can go until I am 60 years old. With oxygen it’s no big deal, we were born in the Himalayas.” The 49-year-old reached the summit of Mount Everest at 8,850 meters today at 7.50 a.m. local time – for the 23rd time already – thus improving his own record. “I’ve been always 100 percent focused on my job,” Kami Rita told the BBC. “I never thought about making records. I actually didn’t know that you could make a record. Had I known, I would have done a lot more summits earlier.”

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Summit successes on Everest, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu

Three 8000ers at a glance: Everest, Lhotse, Makalu (From l. to r.)

Cheers to the Sherpas! The teams responsible for fixing the ropes have done a great job. On yesterday’s Monday, they were the first climbers of the season to reach the summits of four eight-thousanders: Mount Everest, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu. On the highest of all mountains Siddhi Bahadur Tamang, Pasdawa Sherpa, Dorji Gyaljen Sherpa, Pasang Dawa Sherpa, Ang Phurba Sherpa, Dawa Nurbu Sherpa, Ming Dorchi Sherpa and Sangbu Bhote climbed from the Nepalese south side to the highest point at 8,850 meters. The team of eight of the expedition operator “Himalayan Guides” has prepared the way for the numerous clients of the commercial teams. The Nepalese government has issued a total of 378 Everest permits this spring.

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Luis Stitzinger: “Just now standstill on Everest”

Luis Stitzinger

The outer bands of the cyclone “Fani” have also reached Mount Everest. Strong winds and snowfall is reported from both sides of the highest mountain on earth. The expedition teams have no choice but to sit out the bad weather in the base camp. Luis Stitzinger leads a group of the Austrian expedition operator “Furtenbach Adventures” on the Tibetan north side of Everest. I have contacted the 50-year-old German, who has already scaled eight eight-thousanders, all of them without bottled oxygen.

Luis, you were on the North Col at 7,000 meters for the first time this season. What are the conditions on the mountain like?

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After rescue from Annapurna: Mountaineer Wui Kin Chin is dead

Wui Kin Chin

In the end, all the effort was in vain: this of Nima Tshering Sherpa, who had left his oxygen bottle to his client in the death zone and had waited with him for hours; the effort of the four-man rescue team that had ascended to him, provided him with first aid and then brought him down the mountain so far that he could be flown out; that of the helicopter crew, who had first searched for him in an extremely risky manoeuvre and later flown him out from the flanks of the mountain on a long rescue line; the effort of the doctors in Kathmandu and then in Singapore, who fought for his life.

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Fixed ropes up to Everest South Col

Everest South Col

Slowly but surely the fixed-ropes snake winds its way towards the summit of Mount Everest.  The expedition operator “Seven Summit Treks” let us know today via Facebook that the ropes on the Nepalese south side of the mountain have been completely fixed up to the South Col at 7,900 meters. On the north side, the Tibetan rope-fixing team is working their way up above the 7,000-meter-high North Col towards the North-East Ridge. For the weekend, heavy snowfall is expected on the highest mountain on earth, so the work of the rope-fixing teams on both sides of Everest is about to rest for a few days.

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David Göttler will try Everest without bottled oxygen

David Göttler

It could be another record season on Mount Everest. Until last Tuesday, the Ministry of Tourism in Kathmandu alone issued 374 climbing permits for the south side of the world’s highest mountain. On the north side, the Chinese-Tibetan authorities have limited the number of climbing permits to 300 this spring. Last year, according to the mountaineering chronicle “Himalayan Database”, 802 climbers reached the summit at 8,850 meters, only one without bottled oxygen: 32-year-old Sonam Finju Sherpa.

This season, too, only a few mountaineers will try to scale Everest without breathing mask. One of them will be David Göttler, who arrived in Kathmandu today. “Nowadays many people think it’s easy because there’s no differentiation between oxygen aspirants and the few without,” the 40-year-old German. “But to make it to the top ‘without diving equipment’ is still not easy. Everything has to fit. And so it would also mean an awful lot to me to reach the summit.” 

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Lhakpa Sherpa not on Everest this spring

Lhakpa Sherpa

Mount Everest is fascinating, for many – like the more than 300 foreign mountaineers who will attempt to climb it this spring from Nepal alone – even a life’s dream. In the end, however, it remains only a mountain. And there are more important things in life. Also for Lhakpa Sherpa.  The 45-year-old native of Nepal actually wanted to travel to Tibet again these days in order to reach the highest point on earth at 8,850 meters for the tenth time and thus improve her record:  Lhakpa is the woman with the most Everest ascents in the world.

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On the Everest record track

Kami Rita Sherpa

The route is ready for the commercial expeditions on the Nepalese south side of Mount Everest. The “Icefall Doctors have completed their job. The team of eight specialized Sherpas secured the route through the dangerous Khumbu Icefall up to Camp 2 at about 6,400 meters with fixed ropes and ladders. Now the summit aspirants can come. To a certain extent en passant, namely at work, some climbers from Nepal will probably improve their records during this spring season. Kami Rita “Topke” Sherpa will be en route with an expedition of the Nepalese operator Seven Summit Treks and – if everything goes according to plan – will reach the highest point on earth at 8,850 meters for the 23rd time.

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New routes on Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Everest?

Annapurna Northwest Face

Expedition luggage is piling up these days at the airport of the Nepalese capital Kathmandu. Mountaineers from all over the world arrive in the Himalayan state to tackle Everest or another of Nepal’s high mountains this spring. According to the Ministry of Tourism, the number of mountaineers is expected to be even higher than last year. In 2018, the government issued 768 climbing permits for foreign mountaineers in spring and collected 412 million rupees (the equivalent of more than three million euros) in permit fees. The majority of the summit candidates are once again the clients of the commercial expeditions, who will be bustling on the normal routes. But there are also a few climbers who want to break new ground on the eight-thousanders off the beaten tracks – like the 38-year-old German Felix Berg and the 35-year-old Pole Adam Bielecki on Annapurna.

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Mingma Gyalje Sherpa: “The Chinese boom on Everest will slow down again”

Xia Boyu (3rd from l.) on the summit of Everest

The spring season on Mount Everest and the other eight-thousanders in Nepal is starting. On Everest, the Icefall Doctors, a team of eight specialized Sherpas, have begun to set the route through the Khumbu Icefall and secure it with ladders and ropes. Some operators of commercial expeditions have already sent staff to base camp to prepare for the arrival of their clients in April.

As in previous years, a large number of Chinese Everest summit aspirants are expected this spring. The China market is booming: Among the wealthy Chinese, mountaineering is in. Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, head of the Nepalese expedition operator “Imagine Nepal”, recognized this potential early on. For years he has been leading Chinese climbers to the top of the highest mountains on earth. In 2018, his company achieved summit successes on five eight-thousanders: Everest, Lhotse, Kangchenjunga, Manaslu and Broad Peak. Among his team’s Everest summiteers was Xia Boyu, a double amputee from China.

Mingma himself has already scaled twelve of the 14 eight-thousanders, eleven of them without bottled oxygen. Only Gasherbrum II in Pakistan and Shishapangma in Tibet are still missing in his collection. He has reached the 8,850-meter-high summit of Everest five times. I asked him about his assessments of the Chinese boom on the eight-thousanders.

Mingma, you will lead once again an expedition to Mount Everest this spring. Will Chinese mountaineers also be part of your team this time?

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Chinese Base Camp now only open for Everest climbers

View on Everest from the base camp

“Spirits that I’ve cited, my commands ignore”, wrote Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in his ballad “Der Zauberlehrling” (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) in 1797. In German-speaking countries this became a dictum – which also describes quite well the current situation in the so-called “Chinese Base Camp” (CBC), at 5,200 meters, on the Tibetan north side of Mount Everest. Several tens of thousands of tourists have visited the camp year after year – and left a lot of rubbish behind.

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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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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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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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