Ueli and Tenji’s Non Ox Marathon in the dead zone of Everest. Ralf on the North side and Arakawa in the fixed ropes…
Mountaineering is a transient experience. I need to continuously repeat it to live it. Ueli Steck
Ueli Steck accompagnied by Tenji Sherpa are now in the Everest Base Camp preparing to climb up to C1 at 6400m, and lace on the booths.
From C1 Ueli Steck and Tenji Sherpa will try to shoot up the Hornbein route in one go to the summit of Everest 8848m, then decent the normal route down to the South Col to spend the night in a bivouac at 8000m.
The second part of their “double shoot” is then to climb up to the summit of Lhotse 8511m via the Denis Urubko variation couloir, and then decent from Lhotse directly to C1 at 6400m.
Let’s just hope that Ueli Steck and Tenji Sherpa will not get trapped in a traffic jam from the Everest summit and down to the South Col. But if they summit at the same time as the other commercial expeditions (that can include ARAKAWA ICI SPORTS JAPAN), it will just be to follow the slow “flow” down……so no need to “honk the horn”.
With a bit of luck, Ueli Steck and Tenji Sherpa can summit at the same time as Ralf Dujomovitz, is supposed to reach the summit from the North Side non ox.
Ueli Steck is completely equipped by Valandre as is Ralf and Arakawa.
Here is the plan:
-> From Base camp (5365m) ascend to Camp1 (6400m)
-> Climb the Hornbein Couloir
-> summit Mount Everest (8848m)
-> descend to the South Col (8000m) climb another couloir (Denis Urubko’ variation)
-> summit Lhotse (8511m)
-> descend to Camp 2 via the standard route and then continue through the Khumbu Icefall (6400m)
-> return to Base Camp (5365m).
for this project will be Tenji Sherpa with whom he already climbed Cholatse’s North face (6440m) in Nepal and the Eiger/Mönch/Jungfrau traverse in the European Alps. They spent time together in February to train and acclimate sessions in the Khumbu Valley. Tenji sherpa is part of a new generation of Sherpas looking to make their mark as alpinists.
Tenji Sherpa and Ueli Steck in Lukla
The crux of this new project will not really be the technical difficulty of the traverse, but the extremely high altitude and how the body will respond after spending so much time in such an oxygen-starved environment.
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.