Due to Labor Day weekend, here goes a Tuesday edition wrap-up of the past week.
Muztagh Tower: Nangpa La hero Pavle Kozjek in fatal fall Slovenian Gregor Kresal was evacuated from MT BC on August 19th. On August 26, news arrived that Dejan Miskovic was trapped high up on Muztagh tower, where Slovenian Pavle Kozjek had fallen to his death. Two helicopters picked up Ales Cesen and two of his mates from K7 and dropped them at Muztagh BC to assist Dejan who however managed to down climb to lower altitude where Askari helicopters could pick him up.
Pavle’s legacy: “climbing with humanity” Pavle Kozjek’s death is another great loss to the climbing community this year; and also to ExplorersWeb. Pavle, like the late Inaki Ochoa, had mountains left to climb in China and Tibet. Yet neither made their personal ambition stand in the way of doing what they thought was right. Pavle’s images of Tibetan refugees shot dead by border guards at Nangpa La and sent to ExWeb only 3 hours after our call stirred the world. China had denied the incident, so Pavle made international news and a nation of Tibetans expressed their gratitude. “My opinion is that climbing without humanity and ethics is not climbing any more — these two things are essential and they make climbing different,” Pavle Kozjek told ExWeb. “We are deeply saddened for the loss of one of the greatest alpinists and people of all time,” Zangrilli commented from Nanga Parbat.
Nangpa La update At the time of the killings, climbers were hushed by commercial expedition leaders. An email circulated by a UK climbing journalist at the time, reportedly written by a veteran commercial expedition leader, stated that the refugees were human traffickers and prostitutes. Surprisingly, several books intended to expose the problems on Everest and Himalayan commercial guiding either brushed past Nangpa La or failed to mention it at all. A book and a documentary about the murders are however planned to be released this fall.
Himalaya’s fall season preview: restrictions on climbers headed for Tibet Post-monsoon season is about to start in Nepal and Tibet – early birds are already there such as Edurne Pasaban and Nives Meroi both enroute to Manaslu. As for China, Pavle Kozjek hoped that his action would change things there, “killing people for crossing the border is just not acceptable,” he told ExWeb. Yet following past spring’s turmoil on Everest, Cho Oyu climbing permits have been held until the Olympics were over. In addition, authorities have issued a new regulation stating that all expedition members entering Tibet from Nepal shall cross the border together, and always use the same exit and entry point. Spanish paper Hoy who had assigned a reporter to join a Spanish expedition up to ABC finally renounced to send him to Tibet.
Iñaki Ochoa’s rescuers nominated for “Spanish Nobel” price The team of volunteers who attempted to rescue Iñaki Ochoa de Olza on Annapurna in spring have been nominated to the Spanish “Principe de Asturias” annual awards in the Sports’ category – previously granted stars such as Lance Armstrong, Serguey Bubka, Steffi Graff, etc. “Chances of winning may be low, but being there and having accepted the group as candidates is already a lot,” Iñaki’s brother Pablo stated at hearing the news.
K2: game over, last summit pic and Marco Confortola’s O2 usage Survivor Marco Confortola reached K2 top without O2 and used only emergency oxygen for one hour on descent, his brother reported. Unfortunately, stats allow no differences on how O2 is used on a climb, and therefore Marco’s summit is filed as O2-assisted. Hervé Perouse from France pointed ExWeb to a picture posted on the late Hugues d’Aubarede’s blog of Hughues, Karim, Gerard and Wilco hugging on K2’s summit. Tragically, only Wilco would survive. The American climbers finally, have now left K2.
Nanga Parbat: Messner in the air After some touch-downs to reload filming gear, Messner’s crew had lunch with the American team. “ I did a very short interview for the cameras, and after we all discussed the physical changes in the Rupal Face since 1970, when Messner first climbed it,” Zangrilli reported. “Then with a quick good luck the show left town.” The climbing team next spent three days in a shallow hole dug in the snow at 5750m, the site of camp 2. Snow never ceased to dump, so Fabrizio, Billy and Dave returned back to BC. The climbers still hope to head up again, in order to be done with their acclimatization process by September 5th.
Batura II: Korean team achieves first ascent In 2005, Korean climbers Lee Hylin, 34, and Kim Chang Ho, 39 did the first repetition of the fateful route set by Reinhold Messner and his brother Günther on June 27, 1970 – a climb that would cost Gunther his life and haunt Messner until today. This season, Kim Chang Ho and Choi Suk Mun summited Batura II, thus achieving the first complete ascent of the mountain. The climbers were part of a large team from Seoul’s University, who climbed expedition-style up the peak’s South face. Ho told ExWeb that he intends to summit all 14, 8000ers but his next goal is a return to Nanga Parbat next year, climbing up the Mazeno Pass.
HET Labor Day Weekend Special: Hurricane Gustav Satellite Communication Update Two million people cleared out from the New Orleans area as hurricane Gustav hurtled towards the city on Labor Day. Terrestrial communication was affected by widespread outages during Hurricane Katrina. The army, aid organizations and others relied heavily on satellite communication which proved reliable. ExWeb ran a quick check of sat comms available for Louisiana in 2008.
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