Cho Oyu: Now with joint forces

Cho Oyu
Nepalese side of Cho Oyu

After the second summit push last Monday was also not crowned with success, Gelje Sherpa has declared an end to the attempts over the Southeast Ridge of the eight-thousander Cho Oyu for the time being. “We put all our efforts into this push,” the 29-year-old let it be known. “We were so close. But our health and safety is the priority.”

According to Gelje, the Nepalese climbers reached an altitude of around 7,900 meters: “However, some of our team fell ill, there were also some issues with an oxygen mask and we decided that with this, the addition of incredibly strong winds up to 100kph and a very technical rock face near the ridge towards the summit it was time to retreat to basecamp.”

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Winter expeditions: Down – and over?

Sunrise on Mount Everest
Sunrise on Mount Everest (in fall 2019)

This Monday marks the end of the meteorological winter. All attempts to reach an eight-thousander summit in this cold season were unsuccessful. On Mount Everest, Jost Kobusch returned to the valley today after spending three days and nights at almost 6,500 meters.

“The weather forecast predicted higher speeds at the last minute, which would have made a climb too much of an unnecessary risk,” Jost writes on Facebook. “After all, the route remains technical. And believe me, it was definitely exciting enough to climb down the hard ice backwards and in the dark at high wind speeds.”

The 29-year-old German climber had already declared when setting out on his last ascent that he no longer saw a realistic chance of reaching the summit at 8,849 meters. In the best case, he could perhaps reach higher than during his first attempt two years ago, Jost had said. In 2020, he had reached the West Shoulder of Everest at just below 7,400 meters. But nothing came of it now, the strong wind did not abate. “It was really stormy and maybe a touch worse than I had hoped,” Kobusch summed up his expedition: “But at the end of the day, I learned a lot and am very grateful for the experience.”

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Jost Kobusch on Mount Everest: As high as possible – Waiting for summit chance on K2

Jost Kobusch as he set off
Jost Kobusch as he set off

It is the last ascent in his second solo winter attempt on Mount Everest. In view of the continuing strong winds, Jost Kobusch knows that – as two years ago – he will not reach the summit of the highest mountain on earth at 8,849 meters. He is aware that “the chance of reaching the summit is practically non-existent,” the 29-year-old German climber let it be known on social networks. “The only remaining hope is that I will get higher than last time, see more and gain experience. Maybe I’ll even beat my own record!”

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Gelje Sherpa’s team abandons summit attempt on Cho Oyu

Gelje Sherpa's team on ascent on Cho Oyu
Gelje Sherpa’s team on ascent on Cho Oyu

At 7,560 meters on the Southeast ridge of Cho Oyu was the end of the line. Due to announced gusts of up to 100 kilometers per hour in the upper zone of the eight-thousander, the ten-member Nepalese team led by Gelje Sherpa abandoned its summit attempt – “because the (weather) window was too short to get going,” as Ashok Rai, manager of the expedition, told the Internet portal “Everest Chronicle”: “There will be a second attempt once the weather improves.”

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Tough struggle for the winter expeditions on Everest, Cho Oyu and K2

Mount Everest
Mount Everest

What is still possible this winter for climbers on the eight-thousanders? After the expeditions on Nanga Parbat in Pakistan and on Manaslu ended unsuccessfully, only the attempts on K2 in the Karakoram in Pakistan and on the Himalayan giants Cho Oyu and Mount Everest in Nepal are still running.

Jost Kobusch currently has plenty of time to read during his solo attempt on Everest. “My favourite book at the moment: Positive Psychology for Dummies,” writes the 29-year-old German climber from Lobuche in the Everest Valley. “With the current conditions here, I really need this book!” In it, two English psychologists give tips on how to deal with difficult feelings and make your life happier and healthier.

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Winter expeditions on Everest and Co.: Patience is needed

Suddenly aged? Jost Kobusch
Suddenly aged? Jost Kobusch

Jost Kobusch hasn’t lost his sense of humor yet. “And I’m still waiting for better weather…,” the 29-year-old German climber wrote on social media, posting a fake portrait showing him as an old man with a gray beard. For the past week and a half, Jost has been killing time in the village of Lobuche, located at about 5,000 meters in the Everest Valley. Snowfall and gale-force storms are currently making mountaineering impossible in the region around the world’s highest mountain.

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Winter expeditions: Difficult conditions on Mount Everest, Nanga Parbat and Manaslu.

Jost Kobusch at the "Pyramid", the Italian research station near Lobuche in the Everest Valley
Jost Kobusch at the “Pyramid”, the Italian research station near Lobuche in the Everest Valley

Blank ice or deep snow – this is how the eight-thousanders are currently presenting themselves to climbers attempting them this winter. “Compared to last time, the conditions are much icier,” Jost Kobusch tells me.

Just over a week ago, he had climbed Mount Everest towards the West Shoulder, on the same route that had taken him to just below 7,400 meters during his first winter attempt two years ago. As he did then, this year Jost is again climbing solo and without bottled oxygen. “There wasn’t as much snowfall as last time. And the little snow didn’t stay on the ice, of course, but was immediately blown away.”

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Mount Everest, Manaslu, Nanga Parbat: Snowfall slows down winter expeditions

Jost Kobusch on the ascent towards Everest West Ridge

It will probably be a base camp weekend. Whether on Mount Everest and Manaslu in Nepal or on Nanga Parbat in Pakistan, meteorologists are expecting snowfall this weekend on all eight-thousanders where climbers are already staying in order to climb these mountains this winter.

Jost Kobusch is recovering – according to his GPS tracker – in the village of Lobuche at nearly 5,000 meters from his previous days’ climb towards the West Shoulder of Everest. The maximum altitude his tracker showed was 6,464 meters yesterday (Thursday) before he descended back into the Khumbu Glacier Valley via the Lho La, a 6000-meter pass between Nepal and Tibet.

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Eight-thousander winter expeditions in the starting blocks

Jost Kobusch in front of his tent at Everest Base Camp
“The Base Camp. The whole Base Camp. Nothing but the Base Camp,” writes Jost Kobusch

Christmas in the snow – that’s definitely true for most climbers who have set their sights on projects on eight-thousanders this winter. Jost Kobusch arrived at Everest Base Camp on Monday. After his attempt the winter before last, the 29-year-old German is tackling for the second time his project to ascend solo and without bottled oxygen over the Lho La, a 6,000-meter-high pass between Nepal and Tibet, the West Ridge and the Hornbein Couloir located in the North Face towards Everest summit. In his first solo attempt on this route, Jost had reached an altitude of 7,366 meters in February 2020. This time he set himself the goal of reaching the 8,000-meter-mark.

For acclimatization he was on the way in the west of Nepal. There he succeeded with his German compatriot Nicolas Scheidtweiler the first ascent of the 6,465-meter-high Purbung on 30 November.

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Missing climbers on K2 declared dead

K2
The 8,611-meter-high K2 in the Karakoram

“Pakistan has lost a great mountaineer, my father and two other climbers are no more with us.” Sajid Ali Sadpara said today at a press conference in Skardu in northern Pakistan what had actually been in the air for days, but no one wanted to announce publicly. But as difficult as it is to admit it, 13 days without any sign of life and without any trace of the three climbers missing on K2 can only mean one thing: Pakistani Muhammad Ali Sadpara, Icelander John Snorri Sigurjonsson and Chilean Juan Pablo Mohr paid for their summit attempt on the second highest mountain on earth with their lives.

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Summit attempt on Manaslu in progress

Manaslu (l.) and Pinnacle East (in spring 2007)

Conditions on Manaslu are not ideal, but when are they ever in winter? In the past few days it has been snowing on the eighth highest mountain on earth. And so the two Spaniards Alex Txikon and Inaki Alvarez, the Italian Simone Moro and four Sherpas, who support the Europeans, have to work their way up through partly deep fresh snow.

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Search on K2: Waiting for better weather

K2
The 8,611-meter-high K2 in the Karakoram (in summer 2004)

Bad weather on K2 prevents for the time being the further search for the three missing climbers Muhammad Ali Sadpara, John Snorri Sigurjonsson and Juan Pablo Mohr. The mountain rescuers were standing by, the Pakistani military said. As soon as weather permitted, the search would continue, it said.

Flights by rescue helicopters had been suspended on Tuesday because of adverse conditions – lack of visibility, strong winds. Imtiaz Hussein and Akbar Ali, two climbers related to Muhammad Ali Sadpara, also had to abandon their attempt to search for the missing on the mountain. Metereologists expect a window of good weather from the beginning of next week, with hardly any wind for days.

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Hardly any hope left for the three missing climbers on K2

View from the helicopter on the summit zone of K2
View from the helicopter on the summit zone of K2

Giving up is not an option – not yet. For the third day in a row, Pakistan Army rescue helicopters searched the mountain flanks of the 8,611-meter-high K2 for the three climbers missing since Friday: Muhammad Ali Sadpara from Pakistan, John Snorri Sigurjonsson from Iceland and Juan Pablo Mohr from Chile. The result as on the previous days: no trace of the trio.

Elia Saikaly, a photographer with Ali Sadpara’s expedition, reported from base camp that two Pakistani climbers – Imtiaz Hussain, a cousin of Muhammad, and Akbar Ali, a nephew of the missing Pakistani – wanted to ascend today to search for the three climbers. “We will climb as high as we can within our limits,” Imtiaz is quoted as saying. “There is hope, but we know the reality of the mountain, especially in winter.”

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Three climbers on K2 still missing

K2 summit zone
K2 summit zone (seen from the helicopter)

The great concerns about the Icelander John Snorri Sigurjonsson, the Pakistani Muhammad Ali Sadpara and the Chilean Juan Pablo Mohr continue. Again today, rescue helicopters of the Pakistani army flew twice to the 8,611-meter-high K2 in the Karakoram to search for the missing climbers on the flanks of the mountain: again no trace of the trio. They had last seen by Muhammad’s son Sajid Ali Sadpara on Friday midday local time at the so-called “Bottleneck”, a key point of the route at around 8,200 meters. Since then, there has been no sign of life from the three climbers.

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Great concern for climber trio on K2

Rescue helicopter at K2
Pakistan Army rescue helicopter at K2

Alex Txikon sums it up: ” Waiting for the miracle is the only thing we have.” The Spanish climber follows the rescue operation on K2 in Pakistan at the base camp on the eight-thousander Manaslu in Nepal. For more than a day there has been no news or trace of John Snorri Sigurjonsson from Iceland, Pakistani Muhammad Ali Sadpara and Chilean Juan Pablo Mohr on the second highest mountain on earth.

The climbers had set out Friday from Camp 3 at 7,300 meters towards the summit. At 10 a.m. Pakistani time, Muhammad’s son Sajid Ali Sadpara left the trio because his oxygen regulator didn’t work. At that time, the climbers were at the so-called “Bottleneck” at around 8,200 meters. Sajid returned to Camp 3, where he waited for the other three until Saturday morning. But they did not come. Chhang Dawa Sherpa, expedition leader of Seven Summit Treks, said he finally persuaded Sajid to descend because he had been at high altitude for too long. The 22-year-old meanwhile reached the base camp.

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