Archive for Annapurna

speed [quick book review]

Posted in Books, Mountains, Running with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2014 by xi'an

Ueli Steck is a Swiss alpinist who climbed solo the three “last” north face routes of the Alps (Eiger, Jorasses, and Cervino/Matterhorn) in the record times of 2:47, 2:27, and 1:56… He also recently climbed Annapurna in 27 hours from base camp, again solo and with no oxygen. (Which led some to doubt his record time as he had lost his camera on the way.) A climb for which he got one of the 2014 Piolets d’Or. (In connection with this climb, he also faced death threats from the sherpas installing fixed ropes on Everest as reported in an earlier post.) He wrote a book called Speed, where he described how he managed the three above records in a rather detailed way. (It is published in German, Italian and French,

the three major languages of the Swiss Confederation, but apparently not in English.) The book reads fast as well but it should not be very appealing to non-climbers as it concentrates mostly on the three climbs and their difficulties. The book also contains three round-tables between Messner and Steck, Bonatti and Steck, and Profit and Steck, which are of some further interest. The most fascinating part in the book is when he describes deciding to go completely free, forsaking existing protection and hence any survival opportunity were he to fall. When looking at the level of the places he climbed, this sounds to me like an insane Russian roulette, even with a previous recognition of the routes (not in the Jorasses where he even climbed on-sight).  I also liked the recollection of his gift of an Eiger Nordwand climb with her wife for her birthday! (I am unsure any spouse would appreciate such a gift to the same extent!) The book concludes with Steck envisioning moving away from those speed solos and towards other approaches to climbing and mountains…

As a coincidence, I also watched the film documentary Messner on Arte. A very well-done docu-fiction with reconstitutions of some of the most impressive climbs of Messner in the Alps and the Himalayas… Like the solo climb of the north face of Les Droites. With a single icepick. The film is also an entry into what made Messner the unique climber he is, from a very strict family environment to coping with the literal loss of his brother Guenther on the Nanga Parbat. With a testimony from his companion to the traverse by ski of the North Pole who saw Messner repeatedly calling him Guenther under stress.

Abele Blanc tops Everest

Posted in Mountains with tags , , , on May 25, 2010 by xi'an

From the website Forte di Bard today:

Abele Blanc in cima all’Everest senza ossigeno.

Abele Blanc, Marco Camandona, Michele Enzio e Silvio Mondinelli raggiungono la vetta, immersa nelle nubi, in una mattina di discrete condizioni meteo. Ora la lunghissima discesa verso il campo base.

So they have at last reached Everest from the North side after many days of waiting for a proper weather window. The website of Silvio Mondinelli states that Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner topped with them. Remember this is only a training climb before Abele Blanc attempts Annapurna for the sixth time…

Abele Blanc’s new attempt on Annapurna

Posted in Mountains, Travel with tags , , , on April 25, 2010 by xi'an

The guide we met last summer in Aosta, Abele Blanc, is now back to the Himalayas to try his last 8000’s, Annapurna, for the 6th time. The expedition is monitored on the site of Fort di Bard. He plans to climb the north (TIbetan) face of Everest to acclimatise (!) before attempting Annapurna in May. Without oxygen. For the Everest climb, he is part of a team involving Silvio Mondinelli, another Italian climber who reached all 8000’s.