K2 is, as we all know, a mountain that has haunted climbers since the first expedition attempts. “The savage mountain”, has always resisted as if no man was allowed to enter it’s domain. Human tragedy is deeply rooted in it’s image, forcing climbers to take every little event into serious consideration: You just do not fool around with the BIG SCARY BROWNIE.
In the April issue of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC 2012, a brilliant article describes the International Amical Alpin climb of this big pile of rock and ice. Rightly they based the assent from the North side (North pillar), properly offering more stable conditions.
Naturally one could look at this climb, as the last in the line of Gerlindes 14 non ox climbs. It is, but it’s also a bit more: This climb represent a human manifestation of outmost will, determination, faith and profound trust. Confronted by this, K2 opened up the closed door and offered 15min to Gerlinde alone on top. No wind, Sun down light from a clear blue sky and surrounded below by all the 8000 she had formerly climbed in the area. An alpine blessing on her final 8000.
Old friendships are important, so I had the pleasure to meet with Ralf Dujmovits who introduced me to his new wife Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner at the 2012 winter ISPO show in Munich. Ralf reached his last 8000m peak (Lhotse) in 2009 and became the first German on the 14 8000 and number 16 in the line:
Ralf is a strong and dedicated DAV Guide, and his record contains numerous successful expeditions, guiding clients to a 8000m summit. A true pillar in German High Altitude climbing, and a great man.
Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner is a Austrian climber, out of the “old school”, extremely attached and sensitive to the notion of “The mountain”. August 2011 Gerlinde and Ralf engaged a climb of the Japanese route of the North Pillar of K2. Here Gerlinde summited her final 8000m peak and became the first woman to complete the 8000m without supplemental oxygen:
1998 — Cho Oyu,
2001 — Makalu,
2002 — Manaslu,
2003 — Nanga Parbat,
2004 — Annapurna I,
2004 — Gasherbrum I,
2005 — Shisha Pangma,
2005 — Gasherbrum II,
2006 — Kangchenjunga,
2007 — Broad Peak,
2008 — Dhaulagiri,
2009 — Lhotse,
2010 — Mount Everest,
2011 — K2.
A full report of the K2 climb 2011, will be published in a 32 page report in NATIONAL GEOGRAFIC, translated and published worldwide, and due to appear in April 2012.
Mrs Oh Eun Sun’s summit equipment ( Bering down parka + Baffin down bibs), is on display at the Black Yak & Valandre booth at ISPO winter. After her summit of Annapurna, a BIG controversial discussion started, whether she summited Kanchenjunga or not. At Valandre we have no reason to doubt the honesty of a little woman who climbed 4 8000m peaks in 2009, and have no reason not to trust the words of PRESIDENT KANG. During a very direct conversation with Reinhold Messner at this year’s Winter OR, Messner confirmed that, after having examined all available documents and using what’s left of his brain cells, that Mrs Oh DID summit Kanch! So BRAVO Mrs Oh, you cross the line in a first place.
Tae Sun Kang does this name ring a bell in your ears? No – so let us explain:
South Korea is the NUMBER ONE nation worldwide with the most climbers having completed the 14 8000 peaks. 6 Koreans have climbed all 14 8000 peaks (84 8000 peaks), and are still alive. That ALL of them used Valandre down equipment, is not as interesting to know, as who was behind this. Tae sun Kang has been the driving force behind all these successful 8000m peak climbs, and is now President of honor of the Korean Alpine Federation Seoul section. Some have the privilege and joy to summit, others have the privilege of making it possible, and Tae sun Kang is one of them. So we are friends President Kang and I.