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!
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.
Everest 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.
The 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!”
The 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…
Generally this year was bad on the south side of Everest. Abnormally high temperatures in badging sunlight, radiated the Khumbu icefall and the Lhotse wall, increasing the risk of avalanches. The icefall, was and is unstable and with a very high risk as it was moving from day to day.
Russel is an experienced old timer now, and his judgment stands clear. If there are a major collaps in the Kumbu icefall, not only can this have fatal consequences in the BC, but it can also block the “bottled climbers”, descending from a summit attempt.
Chilian climbers heading for the South Col May 17th.
Ralf Dujmovits did try his “topless” Everest attempt. Climbing without oxygen, solo from CIII, and carrying all his personal gear up to the South Col just the way it should be done. Suisse speed climber Uli Steck, was in Ralf’s tracks and arrived later at the South Col. Together they would go for the summit next day (May 18th).
A “Burned out” Ralf at the South Col of Everest
During the night, Ralf realized that he had burned out, and with his experience of 27 8000, he knew his new heading: Down. It’s obvious that Ralf had not completely recovered from the sickness of sinusitis during the climb…..so a burn out at the South Col is not surprising. Uli Steck however, summited topless the 18th.
During the decent, Ralf crossed the organized expeditions heading for the summit. “Climbers” bottled up in CII, heading to become the first boy on the block, to climb Everest.
Climbing Everest? No comments.
Summit window is reported open from the 24 to 27 May. And the Khumbu Icefall is roasting in the sun…
Only 14 peaks in the world raise up over 8000m into what today is known as “the dead zone”. All are situated in the Himalaya range spread over countries like: Nepal, India, Pakistan and Tibet.
The first expedition to set foot on a 8000m peak was achieved by a French expedition in June 3th 1950, when the guide Louis Lachenal from Annecy together with Maurice Herzog from Lyon, set foot on the summit of Annapurna. As a first time ever achievement, Lachenal and Herzog climbed the dangerous peak of 8091m without the use of supplemental oxygen. A big French success, as just the logistic problems transporting the gear and equipment from France to Nepal in 1950, was a major and expensive obstacle, to what you can add climbing up into unknown conditions. Maurice Herzog was the first to reach the summit, followed closely by Louis Lachenal, though reaching the summit, and especially without the use of supplemental oxygen, they were forced to pay the price: Herzog’s decision to opt for lighter boots, and the loss of his gloves near the summit allowed frostbite to set in quickly, resulting in extensive amputations on both hands and both feet.
What makes the French expedition to Annapurna special is not only the fact that it was the first 8000+ meter peak climbed, it was also the first that was scouted and climbed entirely in one climbing season, a feat not easily repeated, especially in the golden era of mountaineering.
Since Annapurna in 1950, Climbers have learned from the experiences made, and what was in the beginning heavy National expeditions, are now light international “low budget” expeditions. At the end of 2011, only 24 people have climbed all 14 8000, and the latest to join “the club” is Japanese climber Hirotaka Takeushi, who summited his last 8000m peak: Dhaulagiri May 26th at 05:30PM local time.
Alpinism is often infused with the fundamental question of puritanism. In this spirit, climbs being made without the use of supplemental oxygen, nor porters and hence in alpine style, are regarded as the ultimate human engagement confronted with a 8000. And in this game, there are only a small club left of 13 climbers in the world, having completed this achievement.