The International Rubber Duck Team
Huey, Dewey, and Louie
Ups we almost forgot …
After the return to France of Elisabeth Revol, who was forced to retrieve and decent at 7800m just 300m below the summit of Nanga last winter, we at Valandre realized that our standard Combi suit, had never been designed to confront such brutal conditions.
We know our Combi well that has been key for many successful high altitude non ox expeditions on the 8000, but it reached it’s limit at 7800m on Nanga Parbat in the brutal winter conditions of 2015. We at Valandre was confronted by the challenge to develop the down gear solution for 2016. A simple question of showing a bit of professionalism!
So with the help of Elisabeth we started in the spring, the project of upgrading the performance of the combi, by increasing the baffle height and down load in two versions: +25% and +50%. Both versions was tested by Elisabeth on the Mt Blanc massif in the summer of 2015. Elisabeth concluded that +25% should be enough to do the trick.
Elisabeth is a MINI woman and the Small size combi used in 2015 was too big for her, so we down sized the Small into an Extra Small. And finally to maximize the head protection, we installed the “MESSERSCHMITT storm hood”, which we developed for the IG2 lightweight expedition jacket.
The C25 SUPER COMBI, was then sewed up and filled in an M size for Tomek, and an L size for Arslan. As with high altitude combi technique, the tree C25 SUPER COMBI’s were made in different colors.
Elisabeth Revol with the first C25 SUPER COMBI
A cross check was made to see if the C25 SUPER COMBI would fit into the inside volume of the SHOCKING BLUE NEO, which it did, so we produced 3 SHOCKING BLUE NEO but removed the draft collar. This bag will be used during the climb.
The team received an IG2 down jacket and a THOR NEO for BC as well.
Using the C25 SUPER COMBI eliminates the need for multiple underlayering, and the result is a super light team.
300m left…….Ok lets go!
New Year’s party is starting on Nanga Parbat 2015/16 and the first guest are arriving now.
This will be the 28th year in a row that expeditions will try to tackle the Naked Peak in winter that still stands untouched up until today. Situated in the Karakoram Mountains range in Pakistan, none has ever set foot on the top of Nanga nor K2 in winter due to several factors: Extreme cold conditions, high and strong winds and few weather windows.
This is High altitude alpinism in its purest form, nobody have ever reached these kind of altitudes in the Karakoram, and often expeditions retrieved with severe frost bites. Nobody knows if the human body can resist conditions like this……A steep into the unknown.
NANGA ON THE ROCKS
This winter 5 teams will be in Base Camp attempting to reach the summit:
1 – International Team
The International team, attempting to tackle Nanga Parbat this winter, on the Kinshofer route (classic set up with camps and fixed ropes started) started out as a strong 5 member team: Ferran Latorre and Alex Txikon from Spain, Janusz Golab from Poland, Ali Sadpara from Pakistan and finally Daniel Nardi from Italy.
Before the departure from Europe, Ferran Latorre announced that he would not join the expedition and information on the web announced the 23.12 that Janusz Golab had decides to abandon the team as well.
So The International team is now reduced to a 3 member team: Alex Txikon from Spain, Ali Sadpara from Pakistan and Daniel Nardi from Italy.
2 – Polish – Pakistani Team
A nine member team including seven climbers from Poland and two Pakistani climbers will attempt the Nanga Parbat from the Rupal Face, Schell Route in a traditional style with fixed ropes and camps.
3 – Nanga Revolution
Forth team is “Nanga Revolution” comprising Adam Bielecki (First winter ascent of Broad Peak and G1) and Jacek Czech. They will attempt Kinshofer route in alpine style.
4 – The North Face expedition team
The North Face are sending in once again, the extremely experienced Simone Moro together with Mrs Tamara Lunger who will attempt her second 8000 in winter (Manaslu 2015). The route selected is the Messner 2000, a route that has never been finished, but they plan to prepare the different camps.
5 – The rubber duck team
Mrs Elisabeth Revol (France), Tomek Mackiewicz (Poland) and Arslan Ahmed Ansari (Pakistan) will equally attempt to climb the Messner 2000 in a pure alpine style. Both Elisabeth and Tomek have several winter attempts behind them on Nanga and are extremely experienced reaching 7800m last year on Messner 2000. This is 300m below the summit and is the second highest winter height record on Nanga ever, and it is at the same time the highest point ever reached on Messner 2000. Straw hat off for the rubber duck team.
There are 14 8000 meter summits in the world, and 12 of them have been climbed in winters, only Nanga Parbat and K2 still stand unclimbed.
Mountaineers are attempting to climb Nanga Parbat since 1988, which makes 27 years to the date. More or less 27 expeditions have tested their limits on Nanga Parbat in winter, and none of them could reach the summit of Nanga Parbat. A lot of questions rise: what makes Nanga different from other 8000ers? Why is it still unclimbed in winter? When Mount Everest can be climbed in winter, why can’t be Nanga Parbat? Over the years, the mountaineers who tested themselves on Nanga in winter have answered these questions.
Nanga was attempted first time in winter 1988-1989 by Polish team. The team was lead by Maciej Berbeka himself, who had made several first ascents in Himalaya (Nepal). Maciej was astonished after looking at conditions on Nanga; he said everything is cruel on this mountain and conditions in Western Himalaya are way worst in winter, “blue ice, lower temperature, faster winds and less weather windows.” The highest altitude reached by Poles was 6800 meter.
Continue reading “Nanga Parbat: The Crown of Western Himalaya still stands untouched in winter” »
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…
Mount Kailash is a 6,638 m (21,778 ft) peak situated in today’s Tibet. It raises up into the sky, in the center area of the source of Asia’s 3 major rivers: Indus river, Brahmanputra river and the Ganges river.
“All mountains are sacred”… quote Mrs Oh Eun Sun, disputed first woman on the 14 8000, the Kailash is by far the most sacred mountain in Asia, to Hindus it’s considered to be the eternal home to the Lord Shiva, and Tantric Buddhist believe that Mount Kailash is the home to the Buddah Demchok.
Every year, thousands make a pilgrimage to Kailash, following a tradition going back thousands of years. Pilgrims of several religions believe that circumambulating Mount Kailash on foot is a holy ritual that will bring good fortune. The peregrination is made in a clockwise direction by Hindus and Buddhists. Followers of the Jain and Bönpo religions circumambulate the mountain in a counterclockwise direction. The path around Mount Kailash is 52 km (32 mi) long.
Climbing the Kailash is not advisable, and it has never been done, as it’s told that it will put a curse upon the climbers, who will start to grow old very fast. Prospected in 1926 by Hugh Ruttledge and later by Herbert Tichy who was in the area in 1936, attempting to climb Gurla Mandhata. When he asked one of the Garpons of Ngari whether Kailash was climbable, the Garpon replied, “Only a man entirely free of sin could climb Kailas. And he wouldn’t have to actually scale the sheer walls of ice to do it – he’d just turn himself into a bird and fly to the summit.”
Reinhold Messner was given the opportunity by the Chinese government to climb the mountain in the 1980s but he declined. In 2001 the Chinese gave permission for a Spanish team led by Jesus Martinez Novas to climb the peak, but in the face of international disapproval the Chinese decided to ban all attempts to climb the mountain. Messner, referring to the Spanish plans, said, “If we conquer this mountain, then we conquer something in people’s souls … I would suggest they go and climb something a little harder. Kailas is not so high and not so hard“
You are right Reinhold….better stay away from this one!