After having completed his last 14 8000 in 2009, Ralf was left with one last problem. In 1992 on his second 8000m attempt(after Dhaulagiri), the summit push was abandoned due to harsh weather conditions, but a second attempt was successfully made, with the use of supplemental oxygen. This is quite understandable, as he only had made one non-oxygen climb from the “low level” Dhaulagiri 8167m (1990) known to be an relatively easier non-technical mountain.
Two years later in 1994, Ralf knocked of his first BIG one non oxygen: K2. Followed by Cho Oyu 95, Shisha Pangma 97, Broad Peak 99, Gasherbrum II 2000, Annapurna + Gasherbrum 1 2004, Kangchenjunga 2006, Manaslu 2007, Makalu 2008 and finally Lhotse 2009. Last year, he made an unsuccessful attempt on Everest non-ox, but due to health problems he had to return to BC. However on his way coming down the mountain, he shot a couple of photos that sped around the world in a record time, showing the real crowding on Everest on the normal route looks like today.
This is it: All you need is to buy a place on a commercial expedition with a load of high altitude porters, who prepare all the camps with the supplemental oxygen and set up the fixed ropes. All you need to do is to take off your ROLEX in BC to save weight, and then click the jumar into the fixed ropes, and up you go,“on the high way to the pearly gates”. Right ON!
Climbing is not what you do, but also how you do it, and doing it as pure as possible is to some the ultimate aim. Supplemental oxygen is a way to separate you from the reality of the physical effect of high altitude on your body, like a Tour de France rider shooting up “the good stuff” to get the machinery going.
As of today Monday April 14 2014, our friend Ralf is on his flight that is taking him back to Everest to try to tackle his last 14 8000 non-ox.
Everest here I come: Now heading for his 53 year, Ralf underlines – once again – his pure engagement towards the mountains, by picking a technically difficult and steep direct line on the NW side: The Grand Couloir also known as the NORTON couloir. The NORTON starts out in 7700m and goes straight up towards the Everest summit ridge and ends 150m below the summit. That gives you a 1000m direct line up a steep snow and mixed couloir.
The advantage of climbing the Norton is, that you have a better wind protection, than taking the classic summit ridge; however it’s only open to very experienced climbers, who have the necessary strength, technical know how and experience. It’s not layman’s cup of Tea, it’s a “Colton/McIntyer” between 7700 and 8700 with the effect of low temperatures and very little oxygen to “carburet” on.
Initially the plan was to climb it with a fellow climber, but Ralf’s destiny told him otherwise as the second climber dropped out: You need to go SOLO, if you want to climb the NORTON. Climbing the NORTON solo and non-Ox has only been done once by Reinhold Messner who – on his second Everest – soloed the NORTON non ox at the age of 36 years in 1980, now Ralf will try to repeat it at the age of 52. “It’s me alone in front of my last mountain!”
Ralf is equipped with an articulated Valandré combi, which he first used on Everest in 1992 and has a Shocking Blue and Olan down booties. As he is on a Solo, there will not be much communication from his BC, and after his acclimatization procedure, he will enter the NORTON and hopefully shoot up in a straight line. Happy news is expected in 3 to 4 weeks by now, so everybody is being asked to cross your fingers… that is if you still have some left! We will keep you updated as we receive communication.
…a place – only for the brave – where they can act out their play of life…