Archive for Everest

Himalayan fight

Posted in Mountains with tags , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2013 by xi'an

“Today,  Everest is too much of a business and there are too many heroes.” Simone Moro

I was reading in Le Monde yesterday about an ugly fight occurring between a team of alpine-style climbers Ueli Steck, Simone Moro, and Jonathan Griffith) and the team of sherpas installing fixed ropes on the normal route to Everest in preparation for the hundreds of clients waiting at Base Camp. The sherpas apparently did not accept the parallel  and faster climb of the three independent climbers to their tent at Camp 3, as well as resented these climbers having completed the fixed rope equipment in a gesture of good will (?). When the latter came down to Camp 2 they were faced by a mob of 100 angry sherpas ready to lynch them and had to be evacuated… Obviously, I have no further details than those I read in various interviews, from Ueli Steck‘s, to Simone Moro‘s, to the sherpas’. So I cannot judge of the responsibility of either side. However, facts are such that the team of three came closed to being stoned to death and that it had to leave Base Camp under a death threat.

This awful story reflects very badly on how much money has perverted mountaineering on Everest: while Steck and his team-mates were working on a genuine mountaineering feat by climbing a new route on a three person team, alpine-style, with no sherpa backup, the sherpas were working for half a dozen commercial companies and the millions of dollars behind (rates range from $50,000 to $100,000 per client!). Preventing climbers from climbing nearby (as long as they do not endanger anyone on the route) goes against the #1 mountaineering rule that mountains (and routes) do not belong to anyone, not even locals, and that faster teams should get priority. As shown in the book Into Thin Air, commercial expeditions have already demonstrated not caring about the #2 rule that one should bring assistance to anyone in danger: helping a perfect stranger down safely rather than bringing a $100,000 client to the top does not seem part of their equation. To be fair, Simone Moro also has commercial interests in the Himalayas through his helicopter rescue company, but I do not think this had anything to do with the current fight, besides being for the general “good—this is arguable, though, given that it gives a false sense of safety to people who should not be there…

Just a note on why I was shocked by this story: Ueli Steck is an amazing Swiss climber of Messner-ian class, who opened new routes in the Alps, Himalayas and Patagonia, often climbing them solo. (See Messner’s interview on Steck’s website, where he states that independent climbers are now perceived as parasites by sherpas.) One of his greatest feats so far is soloing the Heckmair route (the ultimate mountain climb in my opinion, see e.g. Joe Simpson’s missed attempt) on the Eiger Nordwand in 2 hours 47 minutes (it took Heckmair and his team three days in 1937).

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.