Video: The Top 5 Mountaineers of All Time.

Amongst climbers it is always fun to debate who the greatest mountaineers of all time are. Of course, such a list is always subjective, particularly when discussing climbers across different eras. That doesn’t stop the makers of this video from attempting to make their picks however, so I present to you a list of the top 5 mountaineers of all time. Not sure I agree with all of them, or the order for that matter, but it sure makes a lively discussion. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Autor : Kraig Becker

* source: – Video: The Top 5 Mountaineers of All Time

** see also: –  https://himalman.wordpress.com/category/video/

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Video: The Trek to Everest Base Camp.

Earlier today I posted an update from the Himalaya on the progress of the climbing teams there. Most of those teams are now en route to Everest Base Camp on the South Side of the mountain. If you’ve ever wondered what that trek is like, or what the mountaineers see on the way, this video is a great example of that experience. It was shot last year in April and should be a good representation of what is happening in the Khumbu Valley at this very moment. Having made this trek myself, this video brings back some great memories. This is a special, beautiful part of the world and I recommend that everyone visits it at some point.

Autor : Kraig Becker

* source: – Video: The Trek to Everest Base Camp

** see also: –  https://himalman.wordpress.com/category/video/

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Video: Wonderland – Great Adventures in the Wilderness.

Remember that sense of wonder you would often have when you first set out into the wilderness? That feeling that you were exploring a place that no one else had ever seen, and the potential for discoveries were unlimited. That is the same sense you’ll get from this video from Salomon TV, which reminds us that great adventures await us outside in nature. All we have to do is go find them.

Autor : Kraig Becker

* source: – Video: Wonderland – Great Adventures in the Wilderness

** see also: – https://himalman.wordpress.com/category/travel/

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Gear Closet: Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid GTX Boots Review.

In need of a new pair of technical hiking boots for your upcoming adventures? If so, you’ll want to add the new Mountain Trainer Mid GTX from Salewa to your list of potential options. This lightweight, yet sturdy and durable, boot offers excellent performance on a variety of terrains, and will keep your feet comfortable and dry no matter where the trail takes you.

Boasting a traditional suede upper, paired with a Gore-Tex lining, and a Vibram outsole, the Mountain Trainer has been built for alpine pursuits. The boot is perfect for scrambling over ice and snow, mud, rocks, and other surfaces you’re bound to run into on your treks, offering good stability and support in both dry and wet conditions.

Perhaps the most impressive element of the Mountain Trainer is their impressive fit. When I initially took them out of the box, my first reaction was that the boots felt a bit stiff, but after wearing them around the house for awhile, they loosened up nicely and were soon broken in for the trail. But, Salewa has taken great care to ensure that these boots are incredibly comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, and to that end the insoles not only offer great cushioning, but they actually mold themselves to fit the specific contours of your feet as you were them longer. The result is a shoe that gets increasingly comfortable as you hike. The lacing system even allows the wearer to dial in an even better fit, selecting the tension as needed.

The “Mid” version of the Mountain Trainer offers terrific ankle support as well, although if you prefer a low cut, Salewa does offer that version of the shoe too. Personally, I prefer having a bit of extra protection for my ankles when hiking more difficult and rocky trails, but the added support does come at the expense of extra weight. These boots tip the scales at 1.4 pounds, which means that they fall squarely into the average weight category. But when you consider the traction, comfort, and protection they provide, it feels like the Mountain Trainers actually perform above their weight class.

I’ve put these boots to the test in several different parts of the country this spring – including Idaho and California – and have found them to be an excellent boot in a variety of different conditions. On each hike, not only did my feet stay very comfortable, they also didn’t overheat when things started to get more active. That said, they may not be the best option for warm-weather adventures, but you don’t often run into those types of conditions at altitude, even during the summer. The Gore-Tex lining on the Mountain Trainer does a reasonably good job of remaining breathable while also keeping moisture out, but its very existence makes this a boot that is bested used in cooler temps for sure.

So far, durability has been quite good on the Mountain Trainers. I’ve seen one or two reviews online that have indicated that that wasn’t the case over the long haul, but I can honestly say that my pair of boots look none the worse for wear, even after putting them through their paces on mud, snow, and rocks. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to find a scuff mark or blemish on them anywhere at this point, which generally leads me to believe that they should hold up fine over the course of time.

The Mountain Trainer Mid GTX is a serious boot for serious hikers and peak baggers. It was built to go places where the average trekker probably won’t wander, and provide solid performance and protection along the way. As such, it carries a price tag of $249.95, which is on the pricer end of the scale for hiking boots. But those who push themselves to the limit on the trail will appreciate everything that this boot brings to the table, which easily separates itself from lesser boots that are designed for light hiking and a day in town, rather than alpine pursuits in remote backcountry. If you don’t need that kind of performance, you may be better served looking elsewhere. But if you’re an outdoor athlete who likes to explore far off the beaten path, this is a great boot for you. You won’t be disappointed in what you find here, as the Mountain Trainer is an amazing blend of comfort, security, and stability that isn’t found in just any piece of footwear.

Buy at REI.com.

Autor : Kraig Becker

* source: – Gear Closet: Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid GTX Boots Review

** see also: – https://himalman.wordpress.com/category/gear/

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Gear Closet: EcoFlow River Portable Generator Review.

The options available to us for keeping our electronic devices charged while in remote regions continue to grow. A couple of weeks back I took a look at the Renogy Phoenix Solar Generator and found it to be a powerful and full featured – if a bit heavy – method for staying charged while on the go. Now, I’ve gotten my hands on another portable generator called the EcoFlow River that will be available soon, and it brings some more intriguing possibilities to the market.

Currently, the River is only available for preorder on Indiegogo, but the device is already fully-funded and should begin shipping in July of this year. In fact, the River has been such a success on the crowdfunding site that it’s designers had hoped to raise $30,000 to get it into production, but have already raked in more than $400,000 with more than two weeks to go before the campaign ends. In other words, people already want this gadget and it is a major success before it even goes on sale.

I’ve been lucky enough to get to test out a pre-production model of the River, and have found it to be an incredibly well made product. Everything about the generator screams high quality, from the excellent case (complete with handle on top), to the LCD screen that provides info on the amount of power in the device, and how it is being used, to the plethora of ports to keep our gadgets charged. In terms of lightweight, portable generators with lots of power, this is the most well thought out and best designed version I’ve seen yet.

With its 116,000 mAh battery and 500-watt output, the River is capable of recharging a smartphone up to 30 times and a laptop as many as 9 times depending on the model. Additionally, it can power a projector or mini-refrigerator for 10 hours, and recharger a drone 4-8 times as well. This makes it a great tool to have at base camp, whether you’re working in the field or spending an extended amount of time in the backcountry. And since it is waterproof resistant, offers built-in surge protection, and weights just 11 pounds, its an excellent companion for use on our adventures.

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Nat Geo Posts 2017 Spring/Summer Gear Guide.

Now that April is all but behind us, it is pretty safe to say that spring is in full swing and summer isn’t all that far off either. Of course, that means it is time to head back outside an enjoy all of the activities that the warmer months have to offer. Of course, the changing of the seasons is also the perfect excuse to add some new gear to your arsenal as well, and National Geographic is here to help.

The Nat Geo Adventure website had posted its Spring/Summer 2017 Gear Guide, offering up 20 new products that you’ll want to have at your disposal this year. As usual, the list includes a wide variety of items ranging from clothing to shoes to tents and much more. If you’re in the market for some gear, chances are you’ll find a good suggestion here on what you should consider buying.

Amongst the items making the cut are the new Suunto Spartan GPS watch, the Sugoi Zap cycling jacket, and  the Voormi River Run hoody, which I’ve also reviewed on this blog. Other products that earned a spot on the Nat Geo list include the Nano-Air jacket from Patagonia, the Nemo Wagontop 4P tent, and the Gregory Paragon 48 backpack.

This is, of course, just a taste of the items that are recommended by Nat Geo’s expert gear tester. There are plenty of other products on the list for you yet to discover. So go gear up and head outside. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of good ways to put your new toys to the test.

Autor : Kraig Becker

* source: – Nat Geo Posts 2017 Spring/Summer Gear Guide

** see also: – https://himalman.wordpress.com/category/gear/

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Artur Hajzer – Ice Leader.

hajzer-portretIs winter Himalayan mountaineering possible without Artur Hajzer? “Well, they say ‘in for a penny, in for a pound.’ There is a will to finish it, an urge to confirm the Polish leadership in this discipline. It is a wonderful idea and I am making it happen with passion,” he used to say. Although the Gasherbrum expedition, during which he died, took place outside of the Polish Winter Himalayan Mountaineering Project 2010-2015 (Polski Himalaizm Zimowy – PHZ), it had been well known that he went there to build up his stamina for the remaining summits which have not been climbed in winter yet. He was one of the youngest Ice Warriors and has become the eternally young Ice Leader. This article, written by Jagoda Mytych, was originally published in “n.p.m.” magazine in September 2013.

hajzer-phz

“Everyone knows one of his faces, one or a few,” wrote Izabela Hajzer about her husband and best friend. And in fact, you could really separate Artur Hajzer’s resume into a number of people. He was a top quality climber with seven eight-thousanders to his name, a successful businessman, the founding father and chief executive of a project which made the Poles start climbing eight-thousanders in winter again. Even if not all the goals he had set were accomplished successfully, he never gave up. He was well known for his endurance and perseverance as well as his wittiness and willingness to share his knowledge and experience.

Artur died on 07 July 2013 while retreating from Gasherbrum I, one of the two eight-thousanders he had planned to ascend this year to “keep fit and stay in touch with the altitude in case another winter expedition was about to take place in the coming years.” We bid him farewell on 24 July in the arch-cathedral in Katowice, the same church, in which 24 years earlier another service had been performed to commemorate Jerzy Kukuczka. Janusz Majer, not only Artur’s business partner for many years but also a friend, gave a moving speech during the funeral service.

While I was working on this text, he told me: “Everyone knows one of his faces. Just so. I think I knew them all. When you work together, there are many reasons to end friendship, but we made it. We went through a lot of twists and turns.”

Snow Elephant

Artur was born on 28 June 1962 in Silesia. He graduated from the University of Katowice with a degree in Cultural Studies but since he was a teenager, he had been active in the Silesian mountaineering circles where he had been nicknamed ‘Elephant’. When he was 14 years of age, he started climbing with the Tatra Scout Club. At the age of 16, he finished the climbing course in the Tatra mountains, so called ‘Betlejemka’. His sporty attitude could already be seen at that time. He climbed Kazalnica Mięguszowska via many routes, Ganek and other faces, and a few difficult routes in the Alps in the Mont Blanc massif, including Petit Dru and Mont Blanc du Tacul.

Mont Blanc 1981 - z arch. Artura Hajzera

Mont Blanc 1981

hajzer-mlody

Artur Hajzer’s later climbing career was closely linked to the Mountaineering Club in Katowice, which at that time was called “the best Himalayan mountaineering club in the world’, as it was the place where Jerzy Kukuczka, Krzystof Wielicki and Ryszard Pawłowski had actively been involved.

“We were one large family in the club. Our lives revolved around the club. We did not only spent time climbing rocks or mountaineering but worked together, partied together and went to concerts together. Artur was a significant individual in the club. He was one of the promising young who did not end up as ‘promising’ but actually achieved a lot by the age of 30,” recalls Janusz Majer, who had been the chairman of the club in Katowice since 1980 and is its honorary member at present.

hajzer-anorak

Hajzer was not only an above-average climber but also a savvy and talented … tailor. He would sew everything for himself and his fellow climbers, from harnesses and backpacks to articles of clothing and down jackets. It was an invaluable experience, taking into account the fact that he was then one of the pioneers of the Polish outdoors industry. He was also familiar with painting – especially at high altitude.

Artur reminisced the summer of 1982 in his book Attack of Despair. “Every day was the same. We did not let the paint rollers out of our hands from dawn till dusk. Fortunately, we spent weekends climbing rocks in the Polish Jurassic Highland, mastering our climbing form. We did not know then which mountains we were about to be tested in.”

And the same year, at the age of 20, with a trip to Rolwaling Himal region, Artur began his Himalayan adventure. The following year, he took part in an expedition to Tirich Mir (7,706m), the highest mountain of the Hindu Kush range. In 1985, he made his first attempt on the south face of Lhotse. The club expedition had already been at Camp V, when it was joined by another member of the Katowice circles – Jerzy Kukuczka.

Artur Hajzer i Rafał Hołda, Kathmandu 1982, z archi. Artura Hajzera

Artur Hajzer with Rafał Chołda, Kathmandu 1982

Regrettably, although Hajzer met his idol and future climbing partner, he lost his current partner, Rafał Chołda, who died climbing Lhotse. Artur wrote that “from the very first moment they tied and shared a rope, they walked the same path.” The expedition was unsuccessful. Almost immediately afterwards, he set out on another one – a winter expedition to climb Kangchenjunga. He reached the summit again and again faced death in the mountains. This time it was Andrzej Czok who lost his life.

Jerzy Kukuczka’s partner

When you look for a phrase to describe Artur Hajzer, one of the first that comes to mind is ‘Jurek Kukuczka’s partner.’ Even though their first expedition was not successful, after Lhotse Hajzer felt much more secure.

Artur Hajzer, Wanda Rutkiewicz i Jerzy Kukuczka, Annapurna 1987

Artur Hajzer, Wanda Rutkiewicz and Jerzy Kukuczka, Annapurna 1987

“I started believing in myself. I realised that my first steps were analogous to what Jurek had been doing a few years back. Eventually, I felt convinced that the Lhotse failure had not determined it all and the next time – as proven by Jurek’s career – would be better,” Hajzer recalled years later. And it was better, together with Jerzy Kukuczka.

“How about going on an expedition with me? I need a partner. How about that?”

“I am all for it, on spec”, answered Elephant to Kukuś.

“It was very elevating to Artur, he was very pleased. Jurek Kukuczka offered Artur that if he had organised an expedition to Manaslu and a winter expedition to Annapurna, they would climb together. And so it happened, and that is the reason Artur decided not to go with us to climb K2 via the Magic Line route,” recalls Janusz Majer.

“The Manaslu (8,156m) expedition was the most difficult of all our – mine and Jurek’s – successful expeditions. It took place in autumn 1986. We were to attempt the south face of Annapurna (8,091m) in the same season,” wrote Hajzer. On 03 February 1987 they made their first winter ascent together to the summit of an eight-thousander.

Another expedition they went on together was a summer expedition to Shishapangma in August 1987, during which they established a new route on the western ridge. The same year, Artur made another attempt on the south face of Lhotse during an international expedition organised by Krzysztof Wielicki. The expedition was a failure. In 1988, he accompanied Jurek Kukuczka, this time ascending the west Annapurna via a new route. A year later he returned for the third time to the south face of Lhotse. That time, the international expedition was organised by the Kukuczka’s ‘greatest rival’ – Rainhold Messner.

“After that expedition I came to a conclusion that another attempt would be a waste of time,” Artur writes in Attack of Despair. That is why he did not join Kukuczka during his attempt.

“It was clear that Artur had equalled his master and his own ambition took the floor. He wanted to bring his own mountaineering projects to life,” recalls Janusz Majer.

On 24 October 1989, Jerzy Kukuczka fell of the south face of Lhotse and died. Artur Hajzer gave up climbing for a long time.

“It took me 15 years to get over it,” that is all he told me about that incident and switched off for a while. He looked as if he was not talking about something in the past but processing news that had just arrived. When he returned to Lhotse under the Polish Winter Himalayan Mountaineering Project, he said that it was ‘a conversation with ghosts.’

Rescuing and rescued

1989 was as equally tragic to Polish Himalayan mountaineering as 2013. In 1989, five eminent climbers died in an avalanche on Lho La pass while climbing Mount Everest: Eugeniusz Chrobak (expedition leader), Zygmunt Andrzej Heinrich, Mirosław ‘Falco’ Dąsal, Wacław Otręba and Mirosław Gardzielewski. The only survivor was Andrzej Marciniak, suffering from snow blindness while awaiting rescue. Hajzer was in Kathmandu at that time. With no hesitation he set about organising a complicated rescue mission from China, as it was the only possible way.

“At that time, people were protesting in Tiananmen Square. Borders were tightly shut. The American Embassy needed to exert pressure. To organise the rescue mission was probably more difficult than to pull it off. But I got instructed by Janusz Majer that either I would do something or it was done and dusted. In such moments, there is really no room to debate, or it is all over,” recalled Artur Hajzer.

“It seemed to me that Artur was the only person able to organise a rescue missions under those complicated circumstances. Even though there were excellent climbers in the base camp, it was impossible to approach from our side because of the avalanche danger. The only option left was unconventional. It was a challenge to Artur, the quintessence of his way of life. He started acting immediately. He was talking to Messner. Messner was talking to the Italian ambassador who was playing tennis with the Russian ambassador the following day. It was all about getting to the Chinese and get their permission for the mission,” said Janusz Majer.

Akcja ratunkowa po Andrzeja Marciniaka, 1989, z archi. A. Hajzera

Akcja ratunkowa po Andrzeja Marciniaka, 1989, z archi. A. Hajzera

For a daring rescue mission on Mount Everest Artur received the Polish Olympics Committee Fair Play Award. 20 years later, Andrzej Marciniak died while climbing in the Tatras. When Hazjer was asked about it, he emphasised that the most important aspect of it was that he had managed to give him those extra 20 years.

Not only did Hajzer recue people but was also rescued by them. In 2005, on Broad Peak, he broke his leg at almost 8,000m. Piotr Pustelnik, who was climbing with him then, led the rescue mission. In February 2008, he was taken by an avalanche on the south ridge of Ciemniak in the west Tatras. He managed to stay close to the surface and thanks to a well-organized TOPR mission, he was rescued unscathed and even got a reputation of ‘always landing on his feet.’ For walking outside of the designated tourist route, the Tatra National Park board of directors gave him a symbolic disciplinary warning.

Lawina na Ciemniaku 2008

Hajzer rescued by TOPR from avalanche, Ciemniak, 2008.

“February 2008, the Tatras. Objective: to traverse the entire Tatra ridge non-stop. I am walking with three experienced Himalayan mountaineers. I feel safe. We are in our twenty second hour of walking, we are ascending Ciemniak. Artur is first and suddenly disappears. Panic stations – Piotrek is trying to get reception and notify TOPR. Darek is going downhill. Done, TOPR is notified, they are coming. Hearing the helicopter, we walk slowly down in silence. Minutes are passing. And then I got a text message from Artur: I am alive. My first thought: Artur, you are invincible. That thought is with me today as well,” recalls Tamara Styś, a Himalayan mountaineer.

Businessman

After 1989, he withdrew from active climbing and together with Janusz Majer took to business, which gave birth to a brand that became cult in the 90s – Alpinus.

“After Everest, Artur came up with this idea of 14 eight-thousanders in a year. We were supposed to have one million dollars to do it. We were sorting out permissions. The entire organisation process was well advanced. We even had business cards. In autumn 1989, when Jurek was on Lhotse, Artur and I went to lSPO to look for a sponsor for our project. We talked to a number of people, including Albrecht von Dewitz, the founder of Vaude, a huge German outdoor brand. Eventually, we did not get a sponsor for our Himalayan project but a business partner,” says Janusz Majer. “First, we sewed for Vaude and then directly for Alpinus. From Vaude we got the know-how. Our advantage was that we knew the product inside out. Our products were known to be of good quality. Even today I meet people wearing our jackets made in the 90s,” he adds.

High quality materials, advanced technologies and, at the same time, limited interest of the Polish people in the outdoor market resulted in financial difficulties of the company, leading to its bankruptcy. The founders were not put off, though. Hajzer and Majer’s new project was another brand which was more affordable to the customer. HiMountain products are visible almost everywhere in the Polish mountains.

“We had already had experience gained during the liquidation of our first enterprise, so when we were creating HiMountain, we were trying to eliminate the root causes of our previous failure. But we had never given up on quality. Artur was very creative at work and kept following all current market trends. He knew how to build a team and come up with new projects which would attract people to participate in their implementation,” says Janusz Majer.

After 15 years in business, Artur realised that ‘he could not live peacefully without mountains.‘ He returned to climbing in 2005. First, almost instantly, he went to climb Broad Peak with Piotr Pustelnik and then Dhaulagiri with Robert Szymczak.

Winter expeditions leader

Artur’s business approach can be traced in the way the Polish Winter Himalayan Mountaineering Project 2010-2015 functions, which, according to Artur Hajzer, has been born out of a need to convince PZA to fund expeditions in the highest mountains.

“The fact that the project exists depends 90% on office and managerial work and one day I should really write what it looks like from behind the desk,” Artur used to joke.

And it looked like this. On 14 November 2009, 3 potential Himalayan mountaineers showed up in his office: Arek Grządziel, Jacek Czech and Irek Waluga. The next day was the deadline for funding applications.

“We knew PZA would not give a penny for a regular route climb, even in winter, if the success were not guaranteed. Robert Szymczak and I had just been refused financial support for a winter Broad Peak expedition 2008/2009. It was then when I came up with this idea that I would draft a project which would not be about climbing via regular routes but winter expeditions in the years to come,” recalled Hajzer.

The seed took root and in May 2010, already under the Polish Winter Himalayan Mountaineering Project 2010-2015, an expedition was organised to climb Nanga Parbat. Artur reached the summit with Robert Szymczak and during the second attack, Marcin Kaczan, one of the younger members of the team, ascended to the summit. ‘The young’ proved themselves again during the Elbrus Race. Andrzej Bargiel and Ola Dzik finished the race in record time. Continue reading