Valandre Blog

HOW A STRAW CAN BREAK THE BACK OF A CAMEL

Ralf Dujmovits Everest

Ralf found difficult snow conditions on Everest NW via the NORTON couloir, so he chose to go for an attempt via the normal NW route.

On his summit push days, things started to go wrong at the high altitude camp for him: Ralf had reported from his camp at 8300, that he had hoped to find a natural platform to pitch his tent, but he could not find any. High altitude porters from the Swiss Kari Kobler expedition had started to help him to dig out his platform, but Ralf admits to have made a first mistake, when he sent them away, to finish the job himself. The platform was there for small and minimum prepared for the bivi in a single wall tent.

The small and badly flattened surface of the platform, combined with 50km winds, forced him to melt snow and ice inside the single wall tent, to get the badly needed vital water. He managed to cock up ½ liters, but at a price of a high condensation that soaked his equipment. The single wall tent, combined with a small badly flattened surface, and 50km winds forced him to melt snow and ice inside the tent and drown himself in condensation. That was the second mistake.

Ralf is now on his way down to ABC at 6400m, where he will presumably start to dry out his equipment, and then……..who knows? Let’s wait and see!

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Ralf Dujmovits on his last 14 8000 non-ox: Everest NW face!

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.

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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.

Climbing Everest? No comments.

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.

The size of a summit is not bigger than a postal stamp.

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.

EVEREST NORTON COULOUIREEverest North West face, Norton coloir on the left.

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.

Everest norton 2The Norton couloir seen from the entry point. This “appetizer” starts out vide and slow, then the NORTON narrows and tightens the screw…

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!”

Everest Norton 3The upper “exit” part of the Norton ends in a knot. Between 8300 and 8400 (Estimate) you still need to be lucid enough, to pick the right solution depending on conditions…

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…

 

 

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Ralf & Gerlinde summits Denali

Ralf Dujomovits and his wife Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner have successfully summited Denali in Alaska USA.

Ralf Dujomovits is the first German high altitude to buckle up the 14 highest 8000m peaks in the world. Out of the 14 only one was climbed using supplemental oxygen: Everest his first 8000. Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner from Austria has delivered the fundamental answer of who would become the first woman to equalize Reinhold Messner’s 14 8000 meters non oxygen climbs that ended in 1986. Both Ralf and Gerlinde practice high altitude non ox climbs, in what is known as alpine style. No porters to install the camps and carry the gear needed. You are on your own confronted by the challenge. Briefly the toughest kind of mountaineering in the World.

Gerlinde finished her last 8000m peak by shooting straight up the North pillar of K2 (The savage mountain) in the spring 2012, a memorable climb published in a 26 page article in National Geographic (You can find it here ). And in 2013 she was awarded adventurer of the year by National Geographic.

Denali — also known as Mount McKinley — is a pretty hard climb despite it is only a 6.194m peak (20.320ft). Its situation in Alaska makes it a very cold mountain to climb, and its location up in the northern hemisphere makes the oxygen conditions difficult compared to Everest.

Another difficulty is that the base starts out low, leaving a 5.486m climb to accomplish up to the summit in very cold conditions (-40° C at the summit).
Ralf and Gerlinde was kind enough to send us some photos from the climb, that we naturally want to share with the community. Both of them are totally committed to mountaineering which is a passion.

Sharing the passion is what it is all about.

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Maurice Herzog nous a quitté

 

Aujourd’hui, le 14 décembre 2012, les nouvelles nous ont secoués en nous apprenant la disparition de Maurice Herzog à l’âge de 93 ans.

Maurice Herzog - Paris

Maurice n’était peut-être pas autant connu du public que Reinhold Messner, mais dans le milieu alpin il était, et reste, un remarquable pionnier, en bravant le premier 8000 le 03 juin 1950, accompagné de Louis Lachenal : L’Annapurna 1 qui culmine à 8091m situé au Népal.

Maurice Herzog au sommet de l'Annapurna 1950

L’Annapurna 1 est considéré comme étant le plus dangereux des 14 8000m. L’accès nord et la route originale n’est pas si technique mais les avalanches y sont EXTREMEMENT fréquentes.

Annapurna North-West-Face - (c) www.ralf-dujmovits.de

Maurice et Louis avaient organisé une expédition complète, quittant la France pour braver le premier 8000 et ce en une seule saison. Jusqu’à eux, tous ceux qui avaient tenté de gravir un 8000 auparavant l’avaient fait en utilisant une approche plus longue, plus lourde et s’étalant sur plusieurs saisons; Maurice et Louis ont introduit le premier « short and fast » de l’histoire alpine, et ils sont devenus les premiers humains à fouler un sommet de plus de 8000m.

Conquistadors of the Useless - Louis Lachenal and Lionel Terray After Annapurna North Face Descent 1950

Mais leur performance est encore plus remarquable si l’on se souvient qu’ils ont gravit ce sommet sans oxygène – un point qui doit être souligné.
L’alpinisme, c’est d’abord de tirer des leçons, d’apprendre des expériences : cette expédition sans oxygène en haute altitude a eu un prix, Maurice et Louis ont tous les deux sous-estimé les combinaisons du froid extrême et de l’absence d’oxygène, oxygène nécessaire pour faire “carburer la machine“. Utilisant aussi un équipement léger (gants et chaussons), les deux alpinistes ont dû être amputés en urgence de leurs doigts et de leurs orteils dès leur retour au BC.

True Summit - Lionel Terray carrying Louis Lachenal from airplane on return from Annapurna 1950

En mois d’un mois, la communauté alpine française est endeuillée par la perte de deux de leurs icônes : Maurice Herzog et Patrick Edlinger (le 16 novembre 2012).

 

Maurice Herzog Patrick Edlinger

Repose en Paix

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Maurice Herzog passes away

 

Today Friday December 14, the news broke out that Maurice Herzog has passed away at the age of 93.

Maurice Herzog - Paris

Maurice may not be as well known to the public as Reinhold Messner, however in the climbing community he was and remains a remarkable pioneer, by climbing the first 8000 peak 03.06.1950 accompanied by Louis Lachenal: The 8091m (26.545ft) high Annapurna 1 located in Nepal.

Maurice Herzog au sommet de l'Annapurna 1950
The Annapurna 1 is considered the most dangerous of the 14 8000m peaks. The north and its original route is not that technical but EXTREMELY avalanche prone.

Annapurna North-West-Face - (c) www.ralf-dujmovits.de

Maurice and Louis organized a full expedition, leaving France to attempt the first 8000m peak and in one season. Up untill then, all attempts to summit a 8000 was using a tactics of expeditions longer than one season. Maurice and Louis introduced the first “short and fast” 8000m peak, and summited to become the first humans on a summit over 8000m.

Conquistadors of the Useless - Louis Lachenal and Lionel Terray After Annapurna North Face Descent 1950
But even more remarkable, Maurice and Louis climbed Annapurna 1 “Non Ox” – a point that has to be underlined.
Alpinism is often learning the lesson the hard way: With no experience with non-ox high altitude climbing, both Maurice and Louis underestimated the combination of extreme cold combined with only little oxygen available to “fuel the fire”. Using too light equipment (booths and gloves) both of the climbers had fingers and toes amputated  urgently in the field, at their return to BC.

True Summit - Lionel Terray carrying Louis Lachenal from airplane on return from Annapurna 1950

In less than a month, the French climbing community have lost to historical icons: Maurice Herzog and Patrick Edlinger (November 16th).

 

Maurice Herzog Patrick Edlinger

Rest in peace!

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