Interview with Mike Farris: Alone on Everest.

Author: Alan Arnette.
Courtesy of www.alanarnette.com © reproduction prohibited without authorization.

A constant debate within the climbing community is not what you climb, but how you climb. Style. It is all about style. Mike Farris found himself in the middle of this argument on the summit of Everest last spring.

He climbed with style but paid a price with the removal of portions of seven fingers, both big toes, and portions of six smaller toes.

Climbing pundits will rate Reinhold Messner as a superior climber to Ed Viesturs even though both climbed the fourteen highest mountains on earth without supplemental oxygen. Messner climbed new routes and Viesturs used standard routes. Messner had superior “style” according to the pundits.

Mike had over 30 years of climbing under his belt. He is an experienced rock and ice climber and a veteran of five 8000 meter expeditions including K2.

Mike has written a book entitled The Altitude Experience: Successful Trekking and Climbing Above 8,000 Feet, where he explains the details of high altitude climbing.

In other words, Mike was quite experienced when it came to altitude.

He did not go to Everest believing it was “easy”. He wrote prior to his climb about Everest:

Nobody who has climbed it has said that it’s easy. It is technically easier that K2 (second highest) and Kangchenjunga (third highest peak), both of which I’ve attempted, but there are still difficult sections high up on the mountain, and of course the extreme altitude has a major effect. So it’s a real mistake to underestimate the difficulty of any peak.

Yet with all his experience, this Professor of biology at Hamline University in Saint Paul, MN found himself alone on top of the world, late in the day and running low on oxygen. His goal was to climb as an independent climber. Before the climb, he explained what climbing in style meant to him:

  • Using most of the available fixed rope is unavoidable. I have to be content with the knowledge that I could climb the route without them, if need be. This doesn’t include the icefall, which requires fixed ropes for safety’s sake for all climbers.
  • Anything I want to use above Base Camp, including oxygen, is carried by me. I won’t have any Sherpas carrying tents, food, fuel, stoves, etc. Except:
  • Most teams set up an Advanced Base Camp at about 6400m (21,000 ft) and have a kitchen staff to prepare meals. Since I’m paying for this service anyway, I will use this ABC facility.
  • I will use the minimum amount of bottled oxygen needed for safety. I won’t know what that amount is until I assess my level of acclimatization and fitness.

He made it to the South Col per his plan and left at 10:00 PM – alone.

I have followed Mike for years and find him a confident individual who strives to do his best in the high altitude world. I was curious about his decisions on Everest, his thoughts on style and on the other climbers who probably saved his life.

Q: You wanted to climb Everest in ”style”. What did that mean to you exactly and why was that important?

I began as a rock and ice climber at a time when style was very important and changing rapidly. No pitons, no aid climbing, no step cutting–all very different from the 1960s. The emphasis was on skill rather than equipment. As the author of two rock climbing guidebooks I’ve had to think a lot about style for the benefit of the guidebook users. I think this has carried over into my high altitude mountaineering. Mark Jenkins’ book ” A Man’s Life” has a wonderful chapter on climbing style, and I recommend that to anybody contemplating climbing a high peak.

At many levels, style is a completely personal choice. If your goal is to collect summits, you may not care how you get up or down. If the journey is more important than the destination, then style does matter. I wanted to have a satisfying experience; the summit would be great but not essential. Given the reality of Mount Everest on the standard routes, I had to decide what was feasible for me to do. For me, climbing in good style meant using the least amount of outside help possible. I used the fixed rope and the kitchen at ABC; otherwise I carried my own gear and oxygen. I didn’t use supplemental oxygen below the South Col.

The truly committed stylist would have avoided the fixed ropes as well. Safety has also been central to my climbing ethic, so I wasn’t willing to go that far as an independent climber.

Q: On your summit bid, you were climbing alone – no teammates or Sherpas. You are an experienced mountaineer with five 8000m attempts at that point but why choose to go it alone?

There is a difference between being with people and being alone. Above 8000 m you’re really alone unless you’re traveling with a group large enough to evacuate an incapacitated climber. Of course a partner serves other purposes: psychological support and help with decision-making. Up to this point I’ve never had a problem traveling alone on 8000 m peaks. I suppose it was part of the test I gave myself–could I do it completely on my own? In this case, I couldn’t.

Q: Let’s look at your summit night. You climbed to the Balcony in 8 hours, which is on the slow side and then arrived at the South Summit around 10:45 AM, almost 12 hours after leaving the South COl. This was quite late. Did you consider turning back then given your pace?

Yes. I had a constant discussion with myself from about 3 AM onward. Once I reached the Balcony and changed oxygen bottles, I felt I was moving better. At about 9:30 AM I set a turnaround time of 11 AM if I hadn’t reached the South Summit. When I arrived there at 10:45 AM I felt okay. I had been moving faster and the weather was reasonable. Everything seemed under control–though slow– and I knew there were ropes all the way to the top.

Q: Your summit was at 1:39 PM and you were alone on the top of the world. Your thoughts on that moment?

Phil Crampton, leader of Altitude Junkies (my BC provider) radioed from Base Camp and said, “leave in five minutes!” and I agreed. So I shot a little video and went down. It was quite windy and the clouds were starting to boil up near the summit of Loki. I suppose I realized just how alone I was at that point.

Q: As you descended, the trouble began. From your report it is not clear if you suffered from AMS but you became disoriented and after almost 17 hours after leaving the South COl you were sighted by various other climbers. Can you tell us any memories of how you felt? The cold, frostbite, being scared, hallucinations?

I was descending under control and wasn’t all that far from the Balcony when my oxygen ran out. My slow progress was due to a faulty regulator, and I was probably getting about half the oxygen flow that I should have been. I remember descending below the rocky buttress below the South Summit. Aside from a fleeting memory of shivering I have essentially no memories from 5:30pm until Bernice Noteboom and Walter Laserer found me after midnight, hypothermic and partially undressed near the Balcony. I experienced no hallucinations, no fear-nothing. I believe that I became hypothermic soon after my oxygen supply ran out. I quit making good decisions and forming memories, but I still was making radio contact with the South col and descending the ropes with proper technique.

Q: Members from several other teams gave aid to get you down to the South Col. Any thoughts on other teams giving you assistance?

I have the utmost gratitude for all of those who helped me. Until I spoke with Bernice and Walter in Kathmandu I had absolutely no idea what had happened!  It took several months to piece together the story as I know it now. Bernice and Walter spent valuable time on their ascent getting me restarted down the hill . Russell Brice, his ascending HimEx team, and his Sirdar Phurba Tashi provided crucial aid in my amazingly slow descent below the Balcony. I’ve tried to come up with a complete list of those who helped — it’s in the report on my website. I’d love to add the names of anyone else who contributed.

As I wrote in my book, part of the compact one enters into on these routes is an implicit agreement to help one another. I was heartened to see the willingness of many other groups to help somebody they didn’t even know. I’m very glad that nobody missed out on the summit as the result of my misadventures.

Q: You were using the best high altitude oxygen system available with Poisk and a Top-Out mask but still there seemed to be a failure. How can this be avoided?

It’s clear to me that I just got a bad regulator. I should have carried a spare. I had no problems with the Top-Out mask.

Q: What are your thoughts a year later on your experience. Specifically any advice for 8000m climbers wanting to go as independent as possible?

This was my first accident in 35 years of climbing. I’ve been lucky before, but this was too much! I came extremely close to a non-eventful climb an extremely close to death. Except for the Khumbu Icefall, Everest may be the safest big peak I’ve attempted. Certainly K2 and Kangchenjunga were far more dangerous.

Independent climbers should do their share: either provide, carry, and fixed rope or contribute financially. Get to know as many people as possible (which I found hard to do on Everest). Especially on Everest, travel with a respected BC provider. They know how things work behind the scenes and have worked with the majorplayers in the past. I know that made my situation easier.The independent climber can afford to take fewer chances. I forgot that rule on summit day.

Q: You had had surgery to remove portions of seven fingers, both big toes, and portions of six smaller toes. How are you today?

I’m healing quite well; it’s more of an inconvenience than a disability. I’m running, climbing indoors, and if I wasn’t so lazy I’d be outside ice climbing and cross country skiing more often. I frost nipped my fingers and toes many times over the years, which led to my injuries being more severe than we first thought. I could easily still be sitting up there, serving as a grim landmark for future climbers. In that light my injuries don’t seem bad at all.

Mike with Bernice Notenboom and Walter Leserer

Thanks Mike for your courage and candidness. We hope to see you back in the mountains soon!

Climb On!

Alan

* Source : – Alan Arnette : 2010 Everest expeditions.

* Related Links :

Interview with Anne-Mari Hyryläinen: The First Finnish Woman on Everest?

Everest 2010: South Side Update from IMG’s Eric Simonson.

Everest 2010: North Side Update from an Expert – Jamie McGuinness.

Everest 2010: South Side Update and Safety On The Mountain.

Himalaya Spring 2010 expeditions.

2010 climbing season kick-off: Everest and Himalaya list of expeditions!

Everest 2010 season – Expeditions with any British Teams or Britons.

Everest 2010: An Interview with Phil Crampton of Altitude Junkies.

ExplorersWeb Year 2009 in Review: Farewell to friends.

Alan Arnette’s Everest 2010 Coverage Begins, Double Traverse Announced!

Everest Spring 2010 preview: Kaltenbrunner & Dujmovits.

* Previous story :

The Great Himalaya Trail Set To Open Next Year!

Everest — Gear For The Expedition.

Feburary and March Climbing Events by American Alpine Institute.

Yet More On The Haines Everest Supersuit.

AAC Book Club: Book Sale and Other February News.

Lei Wang – Asian American woman to beat record in climbing Seven Summits.

More Thoughts on Mallory, Irvine and the Camera.

An Urgent Request from EverestER.

Alan Arnette Explains The Champion Everest Supersuit.

* Polish Himalayas – Become a Fan

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** zapraszam na relacje z wypraw polskich himalaistów.

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Interview with Anne-Mari Hyryläinen: The First Finnish Woman on Everest?

Author: Alan Arnette.
Courtesy of www.alanarnette.com © reproduction prohibited without authorization.

Finland is usually associated with Nordic sports like ski jumping and cross country skiing. Now Anne-Mari Hyryläinen wants to make history by being the first Finnish woman to summit Everest.

An accomplished marathoner, she saw Mount Everest for the first time while bicycling from Lhasa to Kathmandu. She stopped at the north side base camp and the dream was born.

Her training has taken her to Europe and Asia including Mount Blanc (traverse, Goutier 3-summits route) and several 6/7000 meter high peaks in Nepal (incl. Tukuche Peak, Chulu West, Kang Guru).

She currently lives in Dubai with her husband so the cold and harsh weather of Everest may be a welcome change from the heat and sand of the desert! While training for marathons she experiences the hardships of the coldest of conditions which is excellent preparation for Everest.

Anne-Mari explains:

Marathon is a very challenging sport requiring high level of performance over an extended period of time. It is the very character and the challenges of this sport that make it so interesting. Good performance requires hard and persistent training and well-planned preparations; Plenty of fluids, right kind of nutrition etc.

When the time comes for Everest I’ll be in top shape physically. Hard training and the competition season guarantees strong basic stamina. During February and March I will concentrate fully on Everest. Sure there will be minor competitions to attend to till departure but the Dubai Marathon was the main event for this season. Soon speed training will be replaced by running stairs in order to build endurance. We live on the 32nd floor which will guarantee breaking a sweat whenever coming from or going to home.

She will not be alone on Everest with  her goal. Her fellow countrywoman, Carina Räihä, is also trying to be the first Finnish woman to summit Everest. Only eight Fins have summited Everest, all were men. And of course the most famous is Veikka Gustafsson who went on to summit all the 14 mountains over 8000 meters without supplemental oxygen.

Anne-Marie took a moment from her training to talk about her goal.

Q: Please tell us why Everest is an important goal for you?

Because I would like to be the first Finnish woman to summit Everest.  It would be a honor to make some Finnish climbing history. For the very first time when I saw Everest with my own eyes was on a honeymoon bicycling trip from Lhasa to Kathmandu. Along the way we visited Everest Base Camp, North side. Seeing Everest and many other 8000ers gave me a sparkle of motivation to actually one day climb these giants. It was clear that Everest would have to be among the first ones. I also believe that it is easier to get sponsors if you are climbing Everest instead of some order 8000ers peaks. But I was wrong.

Q: Have you consulted with your famous country climber, Veikka Gustafsson?

Unfortunately not. Veikka is very much my idol and it would be very nice to meet him some day.  Maybe some time when I am visiting in Finland  I like Veikkas “style” how he is doing things.

Q: Your fellow countrywoman, Carina Räihä, is also trying to be the first Finnish woman to summit Everest. Is this a race between you?

I don’t see Carina as my competitor. Mountain climbing is no joking matter. I don’t like to think that mountains are a running track or a play field. If I am unsuccessful in some running races there are always some new races coming. If I am unsuccessful in mountain climbing it is possible to risk my life. In the mountain I am focusing only on my climbing.  But of course my goal is to be the first. My mind is very competitive and I hate loosing.  If we both have same day summit push of course then I try to be first on the top.

Q: How was your training climbs in Nepal this past Fall. What were your key lessons from the climbs that you will apply on Everest?

I have been climbing in Nepal now three times: Chulu West, Kang Guru and Tukuche Peak. In every expedition I have been learning many new things, especially in Kang Guru Expedition 2008.  It is more safer and easier if you are a strong climber. I have learned that for Everest one has to be in top shape physically, mentally strong and also a fast climber. Never lose your focus. It is important to understand your own body and to know how it works under stress.

Q: Can you talk about how you mentally train for marathons and how you will use that on Everest?

I put myself a certain target and then focus on that. I have a strong discipline and I always tell myself that “ never give up”. Competitions are great mental training also for Everest. When I am running competitions I have to forget all the pains in the body and focus on grossing the finish line. However, I need to respect the marathon distance (42.195 km) and to know my own limits. But I cannot be afraid! It is the same with Everest.  I am absolutely passionate about sports and enjoy testing my own physical and mental boundaries and pushing them further and further whenever possible.

Q: Any fears about the climb?

I do not have any fears about the climb. I love it! But having said that, I have a great respect for the mountains. I really to hope that Chomolangma gives me an opportunity to summit this year!

Q: You are filming a documentary about your climb. Can you tell us a bit about it?

The Sky Climbers team: Jussi Juutinen (climber, cameraman), Anne-Mari Hyryläinen (climber), Lhakpa Sherpa (climber, cameraman, group sherpa), Jani Einolander (editor in B.C.) and Tuukka Kouri is the director of the documentary is filming the entire Everest expedition into a documentary film “Sky Climbers – The Journey to Everest”.

The film will follow Sky Climbers team from the early preparations to the slopes of Everest covering training seasons, the challenges of mountaineering and the local Sherpa culture. The film will inspect the mental and physical aspects of mountaineering and ponder on the questions “why climb mountains?” and “what makes people travel voluntarily into dangerous and extreme environments?”

Q: Any other thoughts for your followers this year?

I am hoping in the future that I can climb more mountains and to be able to develop on that. Definitely I am back in running and training after Everest, maybe some ultra run in the future.

We wish Ann-Mari, her team and Carina all the best on their expeditions. She will be climbing with Phil Crampton’s Altitude Junkies. You can follow her at her site.

Climb On!
Alan

* Source : – Alan Arnette : 2010 Everest expeditions.

* Related Links :

Everest 2010: South Side Update from IMG’s Eric Simonson.

Everest 2010: North Side Update from an Expert – Jamie McGuinness.

Everest 2010: South Side Update and Safety On The Mountain.

Himalaya Spring 2010 expeditions.

2010 climbing season kick-off: Everest and Himalaya list of expeditions!

Everest 2010 season – Expeditions with any British Teams or Britons.

Everest 2010: An Interview with Phil Crampton of Altitude Junkies.

ExplorersWeb Year 2009 in Review: Farewell to friends.

Alan Arnette’s Everest 2010 Coverage Begins, Double Traverse Announced!

Everest Spring 2010 preview: Kaltenbrunner & Dujmovits.

* Previous story :

The Great Himalaya Trail Set To Open Next Year!

Everest — Gear For The Expedition.

Feburary and March Climbing Events by American Alpine Institute.

Yet More On The Haines Everest Supersuit.

AAC Book Club: Book Sale and Other February News.

Lei Wang – Asian American woman to beat record in climbing Seven Summits.

More Thoughts on Mallory, Irvine and the Camera.

An Urgent Request from EverestER.

Alan Arnette Explains The Champion Everest Supersuit.

* Polish Himalayas – Become a Fan

goryonline.com

** zapraszam na relacje z wypraw polskich himalaistów.

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ExWeb special: Women in Himalaya – Amazons fighting the Dark Ages.

Himalayan climbers risk everything: time, money, career, comfort, health, even their lives. In the case of women, the toll seemingly also includes motherhood.

According to records, avid female mountaineers tend to delay childbirth and give up the passion altogether once they become mothers. The men instead, keep climbing.

It seems to come down to a difference in circumstances. Alison’s husband was somewhat willing to care for their kids while she was away but her situation has proved unique. There are virtually no mothers climbing in Himalaya, and ExWeb’s Angela Benavides caught up with some of today’s women mountaineers to check what they think about it.

Kinga: no chance for a “normal” family life

“It is very difficult for women to climb in the Himalayas and have a ‘normal’ family life at the same time,” Polish 6x8000ers summiteer Kinga Baranowska, 33, told ExplorersWeb, “most of all when the kids are small.”

“Very few women in Poland had kids while they were active climbers – usually they quit climbing the moment they decided to raise a family. Take Anna Okopinska for instance: she was the first female GII summiteer in 1975, and a very good climber.”

Badia: “I guess the men have a wife to take care of their children”

Mexican Badia Bonilla – married to fellow climber Mauricio Lopez – strongly believes in giving up kids while climbing as an act of responsibility.

“In my opinion, we women climbers shouldn’t have children since the risk of having an accident is too high,” Badia told ExWeb. “Such event would affect the kids most than anyone – they would be left orphans or in care by strangers. In my case, at 43 years I can only consider adoption as an option – and would definitely not make such a decision until I’m done with dangerous mountains. Mauricio, my husband, agrees on this.”

“As for male climbers with children at home, they tend to be less strict – their parental feelings are not that strong and therefore they take greater risks,” Bonilla said. “I guess they have a wife to take care of the children should anything happen. However, I have known men giving up close summits alleging they love their kids too much.”

Oh Eun-Sun: “It’s difficult to find a man who understands”

Also 43 years old, South Korean female top climber (13 8000ers) Oh Eun Sun pretty much agrees.

“Himalayan mountains are merciless,” she said. “Therefore, since I started my project I have been fully focused on climbing and never considered to start a family.”

“When climbing in the Himalayas, there is a very thin line separating life and death – critical moments are too common. In addition, expeditions involve long stays abroad, making it extremely difficult to take care of a family at home.”

Moreover, Miss Oh keeps little hope to find a supportive partner while climbing full time. “It’s difficult to find a man sensitive enough to understand the life I lead,” she reflected. “I wish I was lucky to find someone like that: I would definitely marry him right away :-)”

“As for children – I believe I would be unable to focus on the climb while missing them too much,” Eun Sun added. “My parents suffer while I am away – there is nothing I can do about it. But I can at least be serious enough not to get a husband and children involved in my complicated life-style.”

“I would like to have a family after I complete the 14x8000ers project though – as long as I find the right person, that is,” she ended.

Edurne: “It is simply not fair”

Miss Oh’s closest rival in the 14x8000ers race Edurne Pasaban agrees that the right partner is what’s most important.

“It’s not impossible to have a family and a climbing career at the same time,” the 36 years old Basque climber put down. “As long as you find a ‘special someone’ – that meaning, someone special enough to understand you and support you.”

“Society is rather unfair to female climbers and mothers. Apparently there is nothing wrong with male climbers risking their lives in the mountains while leaving a family at home – but the public often jumps mothers who want to climb. In my opinion, both parents are equally important for a child, and so I see no difference whether it’s the father or the mother who climbs!”

“Right now I am not planning on having children – but that’s just because I’m not in the right circumstances,” Edurne told ExWeb. “I’m constantly on the move, I don’t have a partner, and so I wouldn’t be considering kids even if I did something else for a living.”

“As for the future – of course I don’t discard it; I’d actually like to have children someday, why not?”

“Supermom” Monika Kalozdi: the exception

Younger or older, married or single – avid women mountaineers are apparently bound to choose between climbing and motherhood; they may experience both but not at the same time. Even recreational female climbers with small children are extremely rare, but not non-existent.

“Supermom” Monika Kalozdi of New Orleans somehow managed to run a company, take care of her family, train hard – and climb Cho Oyu and Everest. She checked her kids’ homework over satellite phone and finally dedicated her Everest summit to her three children.

Husband Jeno was key of course. “We have been married 23 years,” Monika said. “From the very beginning Jeno has been my best friend, my business partner, and now my biggest supporter and fan. He is the spirit on my expeditions. He works out all the logistics, finds me all the books and videos I need to study for a climb, and supports and encourages my training schedules. Without him I could not do this.”

“I believe that mom and dad are equally important in raising the family,” Monika added. “Just like we share work, we share the kids. Examples need to be set by both parents, both in parenting as well as in your daily life.”

“As a woman, I believe I have been able to show my daughter that she can do anything she sets her mind to,” Monika said. “And to my boys I believe I have taught them to see women as equals.”

ExWeb co-founder Tina, “we are still in the Dark Ages”

ExWeb’s co-founder Tina Sjogren is an all-round explorer, with a summit of Everest, ski-expeditions to both poles and ocean crossings. Next, she hopes to travel to Mars with her husband Tom. “To me it was an early choice,” she said. “I knew since childhood I wanted a different life.”

“But it’s not easy for any woman to go against society in such a deep-rooted matter as motherhood; I’ve fought both pitty and judgement. We are still primitive animals, and it is part of our nature to reject, attack even, anything that differs from ‘the pack’.”

“We’re selfish they say – which is funny in light of our population problem. We’ll regret it, they threaten, but few speak about those who caved in spending the rest of their lives wondering what might have been. ”

“The guilt trips are stunning, especially those imposed on us by most religions. It’s about power by numbers but believe me, my God has nothing to do with that, that’s a human thing. Our species is not as important in the Universe as we like to think and our purpose goes beyond feeding and breeding (ask any dinosaur). Beside our gene pool, we should consider our legacy.”

“It’s clear from the above interviews that we remain in the Dark Ages when it comes to this issue. Women explorers are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. The message to us is frankly: stay home!”

“As for explorers (of both sexes) putting their kids at risk of becoming orphants: in my experience the memory of an extraordinary parent can be far more empowering than being raised by a bitter or indifferent individual. You can be there (or not) in so many ways.”

“There are so many musts and shouldn’ts, we attack mothers who are too young, too old, have too many kids, or none at all. We are much less worried about justice, freedom and progress. Women can only shine if they live by a strong, free will. And so while I’m different, to those who want many kids I say go for it, heck, have 2 more on me!”

“Whether we choose to have children at age 15, 65 or not at all; I hope that our independent decisions will empower both sexes to live by their hearts rather than society’s norms. Such lives are no doubt the most rewarding and in my mind, the most useful in the big picture of it all.”

* Related Links :
ExWeb interview with Monika Kalozdi
Edurne Pasaban’s website
Badia Bonilla’s website
Oh Eun Sun/Black Yak’s website
Kinga Baranowska’s website
ExWeb’s women series, part 1: Himalaya – no place for mothers?
ExWeb’s women series, part 2: Himalaya – perfect place for a date?

* Polish Himalayas – Become a Fan

Exweb Week-In-Review is sponsored by HumanEdgeTech the world’s premier supplier of expedition technology. Our team helps you find ultra light expedition tech that works globally.

e-mail or call +1 212 966 1928

* Read these stories – and more! – at ExplorersWeb.com

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Himalaya 2010 climbing season, Karakoram and Himalaya wrap-up /4/ – Week in Review.

Since Alison Hargreaves, no other female Himalayan climber has opted to raise children between expeditions and the entire issue remains a red-hot taboo. Last week, ExplorersWeb threw in the grenade and asked women high altitude mountaineers for their opinions. The results are an interesting study of humans both in thin air and down the valleys.

In other news: American speed climber Chad Kellogg debriefed his under-the-radar solo on Aconcagua’s wild south face and there were some cool updates from extreme treks and sea voyages around the world.

ExWeb special: Himalaya – no place for mothers? Male Himalayan climbers often have kids but female mountaineers are rarely mothers. Moreover, men leaving their family for risky exploration are admired while women doing the same thing are criticized. Why is that? Last week, ExWeb ran a series special on the issue.

ExWeb special, part 2: Himalaya – perfect place for a date? In part 1 we covered Alison Heargraves’ fight for her right to climb as a mother. Her kids and marriage suffered critics said, but these are two separate issues scientists have found. In fact, a date in Himalaya could prove the best recipe for a life-long relationship and part 2 covered Himalayan marriages.

ExWeb special, final: Women in Himalaya – Amazons fighting the Dark Ages According to records, avid female Himalaya climbers tend to delay childbirth, if they have kids at all. Male climbers instead just keep climbing, kids or not. In the final part of the series, female mountaineers told ExplorersWeb what they think about that.

American Chad Kellogg solos Aconcagua’s wild south face Forty-two hours spent on the face, pure alpine style and no one around. “The Medicine Buddha” on Aconcagua’s south face was carved by American speed climber Chad Kellogg in a very ambitious preparation for Everest this spring.

Green Traveler in Indian Terrorism Trial Andy Pag, who is attempting to drive around the world in a vegetable oil powered bus, was arrested and imprisoned in India on suspicion of terrorism, because he was in possession of a satellite phone without a permit. Pag’s arrest in Pushkar, Rajasthan over a month ago on January 11, was followed by 100 officers sweeping through the town searching for evidence of terrorist connections to the green adventurer, who has previously driven a chocolate-powered lorry to Timbuktu. Pag, currently freed on bail, if convicted could be sentenced to more time in Ajmer prison where inmates sleep on cold stone floors and have limited access to hygiene facilities.

Phoenicia update: Re-routing the pirate waters to the Cape of Good Hope The Phoenicia Ship Expedition is nearing the halfway mark of their circumnavigation of Africa in a replica of a 600 BC Phoenician ship. They re-routed away from possible Tanzania pirates and are on their way to one of the hardest and most exciting stretches of their expedition, the Cape of Good Hope.

Tower, glider – and parachute-equipped plane in Boulder crash Three people died in Colorado last Saturday after a Cirrus CR20 plane – equipped with an emergency parachute – clipped the towline of a Piper Pawnee pulling a glider. The two planes crashed while the glider pilot managed to cut loose, landing safely with his passengers.

ExWeb interview with Linda Beilharz, “Each icecap has its own challenges” A few years ago Linda Beilharz started exploring the main ice fields of the world. She is now on her way to ski from Canada to the North Pole with husband Rob Rigato and guide Sarah McNair-Landry. Linda spoke to ExWeb about her North Pole expectations and the Southern Patagonia Icecap.

Hayley Shephard’s solo sea kayak around South Georgia Island in the balance Hayley Shepard plans to solo sea kayak around South Georgia Island, a Sub-Antarctic Island. While crossing the Drake Passage in her support vessel from Ushuaia to get South Georgia, a storm hit them and injured the Captain. They had to divert to the Falkland Islands and Hayley is now considering her options.

Shaun Quincy update: Seven days in a 2m x 1m box Shaun who is rowing from Australia to New Zealand has been out on the Tasman for 21 days. Rough weather kept him locked-up in his cabin until last week when he jumped overboard to scrub the hull from barnacles, cautiously due to shark sightings.

Icetrek Expeditions’ Flexi ski bindings: ‘Plateau’ release Icetrek Expeditions has released its third model of Flexi ski binding – the Plateau.“Plateau’s webbing and buckle strap system can be adjusted to suit any footwear, from an ultra-wide winter boot like Baffin’s Polar series to a running shoe,” Icetrek’s Eric Philips told ExplorersWeb.

Teen girls sail around-the-world update: Jessica knocked down and Abby starting a second time “One tough cookie” reads the surprise T-shirt that her mum has put in her food bag she opened after the gale force winds. Jessica Watson deserves to wear it after being knocked down 4 times. Abby Sunderland’s determination showed when she started off for a second time after mechanical problems.

Ice Warrior postpones the North Pole of Inaccessibility Explorer Jim McNeill has postponed his team’s quest for the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility quoting satellite images reportedly showing slower Arctic ice growth without the normal winter freeze. “The risks of early failure, of cold injury and of needing to be rescued are too high,” stated the press release.

Desert update: No Libya camel crossing for Christian Bodegren; and Ripley Davenport’s Mongolia trailer Christian Bodgren who is currently crossing the Sahara arrived from Egypt in Libya only to find that his dream to cross Libya on camel is in reality something different. Ripley Davenport who is planning a Mongolia crossing is testing his expedition trailer; hauling 230 kg.

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Exweb Week-In-Review is sponsored by HumanEdgeTech the world’s premier supplier of expedition technology. Our team helps you find ultra light expedition tech that works globally.

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* Read these stories – and more! – at ExplorersWeb.com

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More Thoughts on Mallory, Irvine and the Camera.

Author : Kraig Becker.

Last week I posted a story about an upcoming search to fine George Mallory and Sandy Irvine’s missing camera on Everest. When the story broke at that time, the news was that Everest historian Tom Holzel had been using satellite imagery of the mountain to search for the body of Irvine, who was the climbing partner of Mallory on their fateful 1924 expedition. Holzel believes that he has now found the missing climber, and perhaps a camera that could put an end to more than 85 years of speculation.

Ever since they perished on the mountain, people have wondered if Mallory and Irvine may have successfully made it to the top of Everest. If they had, they surely would have taken photos of it, and those photos could still be waiting to be developed, in a camera, lost somewhere on Everest. When Mallory’s body was discovered back in 1999, that camera was not found on his body, so naturally, the speculation was that Irvine was probably carrying it. To date, his body has not been found, but an expedition is being mounted for this spring to go examine the area that Holzel has pinpointed to see if it indeed Irvine, and discover if he still carries the missing camera.

The story has gotten a lot more attention since I first wrote about it last week, with a couple of other websites that I respect weighing in on the topic. First, Alan Arnette has posted a good synopsis of the entire affair in the latest post to his Everest 2010 blog. Alan’s examination of the event includes more insight into how Holzel determined where to search for Irvine and why he thinks that an “oblong blob” seen in the satellite imagery may very well be man that everyone has been looking for for all these years. It’s a very compelling story. From there, Alan follows up his detailed intro with a brief interview with Holzel himself. in which he talks about the challenges of finding the body and organizing and expedition to go and look. To close things off, there is even a link to see the image that Holzel has been studying for yourself. Click here to check it out.

Not to be left out of the party, ExWeb has also posted a story of their own on the search for Irvine’s body. It contains much of the same information as we’ve seen elsewhere, including an explanation of the search for the camera too, but they also include some analysis of the photographs to show what is purported to be Irvine’s body.

I’ve mentioned multiple times over the years that the camera has become the legendary Holy Grail of Mountaineering. Personally, I think it’s an extremely long shot that even if Irvine’s body is found, the camera will still be on him, and intact, without the film being exposed. After all, it has been out in the elements, in one of the harshest environments on the planet for nearly 86 years.

And not to sound too much like a broken record, but what if it is found and the photos are able to be properly developed, and they show the two men on the summit? Will that change how we feel about who climbed the mountain first? It was another 30 years before Hillary and Norgay topped out on the mountain, and made it back down in one piece. Standing on top is just one part of a successful climb. Still, it would be pretty amazing to think that they may have made it to the summit considering there relatively primitive gear and clothing back then.

Efforts are underway to launch an expedition this spring to determine once and for all of this “blob” really is Irvine. Reportedly, Thom Pollard and Jake Norton, both of whom were on the 1999 team that discovered Mallory, are ready to go. But with a small window of time to finding funding and organize the climb, it may have to wait until 2011 for a proper look around the mountain.

* Source : – http://theadventureblog.blogspot.com/

* Related Links :

Everest 2010: Still Searching For Andrew Irvine and that Damn Camera!

In Search of the Elusive Mallory Camera on Mt. Everest.

Search For a Frozen Camera Could Rewrite History Books On Everest’s First Climbers

* Previous story :

An Urgent Request from EverestER.

Alan Arnette Explains The Champion Everest Supersuit.

Himalaya Spring 2010 expeditions.

2010 climbing season kick-off: Everest and Himalaya list of expeditions!

Everest Clean-Up Above 8000m.

Summit Day on Mt Everest – amazing video.

Interview with Dave Hahn.

The Deadly Side of Everest.

The Conquest of Everest – 1953 style : amazing video.

Everest 2010 season – Expeditions with any British Teams or Britons.

Everest 2010: An Interview with Phil Crampton of Altitude Junkies.

ExplorersWeb Year 2009 in Review: Farewell to friends.

Alan Arnette’s Everest 2010 Coverage Begins, Double Traverse Announced!

Everest Spring 2010 preview: Kaltenbrunner & Dujmovits.

How Much Does It Cost To Climb Mt. Everest?

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Himalaya 2010 climbing season, Karakoram and Himalaya wrap-up /3/ – Week in Review.

It’s faster, it’s bigger, it’s interactive! You asked for it and we built it. Go check the brand new ExplorersWeb if you haven’t yet. Other major news: Contact 5, price-slashed to below US $300 and with some incredible one-click updates.

Other news: Lists of expeditions are up for Himalaya, Everest, the North Pole and other Arctic. Remote Medical will be main contributor on the medical section of ExplorersWeb (BaseCampMD), now expanding from Everest to the rest of the world. ExWeb scrutinized the NASA budget proposal and Tom Holzel believes he’s got Irvine (and possibly the camera) this time.

Don’t miss next week’s special by the way: a series about motherhood in high Himalaya!

ExplorersWeb 3.0: kickin’ it up Following 400 programming hours and marking our 10-year anniversary; Monday a new ExplorersWeb was born. Now just one single website, 7 brand new areas have been added to the regular content with a host of new features overall. Ratna Park and the Souq are just some of the interactive news.

HumanEdgeTech proudly presents: CONTACT 5 – the world in one click! Created in 2001 as private expedition software for the first live dispatches from the polar caps, over a thousand of expeditions later CONTACT5 is ready to enter the new decade: go live with text, images and video to Expedition Website, Twitter, Facebook and more with one single click! At a price of $299.

The “new” Basecamp MD: Remote Medical at ExplorersWeb A market leader with over seventy employees across North America, conducting operations and training on seven continents; Remote Medical will be main contributor on the medical section of ExplorersWeb (BaseCampMD), now expanding from Everest to the rest of the world.

2010 climbing season kick-off: Everest and Himalaya list of expeditions! Yes it’s that time of the year again! Check out the first edition of the brand new 2010 Everest and Himalaya list of expeditions. Several traverses will be attempted on Everest, expect the biggest action on Annapurna though.

2010 Arctic and sub-Arctic list of expeditions! Three solo skiers and five teams plan to ski to the Geographic North Pole. Jim McNeill and his relay team will ski to the North Pole of Inaccessibility. Several teams will ski to the 1996 position of the Magnetic North Pole. Two teams will cross Lake Baikal and Greenland braces for a Norwegian invasion.

Irvine’s body spotted? “Now all we need is some boots on the ground” Has Andrew Irvine’s body been found? After studying aerial images taken at 8200m, Everest researcher Tom Holzel believes he has spotted Mallory’s climbing partner: “Now all we need is some boots on the ground to prove it one way or the other – and bring back Irvine’s folding Kodak camera,” he wrote at ExWeb.

Irvine update: wealthy sportsmen offered Everest history for $200K “It occurred to me that some wealthy sportsmen would love to be the discoverers of what might be a history-altering find,” said Tom Holzel. “They would have to be strong, with some mountaineering experience and able to put up $200K in a few days time.”

Mark Kalch’s Iran crossing debrief: “Iran is not simply about nuclear ambitions and politics” As three American hikers remain jailed in Iran; Aussie Mark Kalch completed his trek alone across the country. Walking from Iran’s northern border on the Caspian Sea to its southerly border in the Persian Gulf, Mark said he witnessed “people going about their lives in much the same way we do.”

Henk de Velde in Puluwat: birds and currents vs. autopilot and GPS They developed their own navigation skills using stars, birds, currents and colors of the water, and sailing trips up to 500 nm. The people of Puluwat admired Henk de Velde’s autopilot and GPS, but they are proud of their ancestors’ methods. Currently Henk is sailing to Japan after a visit to Pacific Islands.

Erden Eruc update: Sea-kayaking on the east coast of Australia Erden Eruc who is on a human powered circumnavigation of the globe has concluded his 33-day Coral Sea crossing in a rowboat from Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea to near Thursday Island, Australia. On January 28 he left off from where he stopped near Thursday Island and is now sea-kayaking to Cooktown.

The Antarctic meteorite hunters’ season from a Meteorite’s perspective The ANSMET meteorite hunters 2009-10 season is over; 1010 meteorites were individually sealed in bags, locked in boxes, and kept frozen for their trip from Antarctica to Johnson Space Center where their secrets will be revealed. The Chinese meteorite hunters meanwhile conducted their search at the Grove Mountains.

Climbing Mag – expert on climate change? The United Nations’ expert panel on climate change and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were forced earlier this month to retract inaccurate claims about the melting of Himalayan glaciers, reportedly based on a dissertation written by a geography student and an article in Climbing magazine.

Atlantic rowing update A low-pressure system set in over the Atlantic Rowing Race fleet and crews were losing miles. They used their para anchors and safety equipment to minimize lost ground. Independent 22-year old solo rower, Katie Spotz, crossed the 1,000-mile line; still 1,500 to go.

* Polish Himalayas – Become a Fan

Exweb Week-In-Review is sponsored by HumanEdgeTech the world’s premier supplier of expedition technology. Our team helps you find ultra light expedition tech that works globally.

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Interview with Walter Laserer: Upside down in the Khumbu Icefall.

Author: Alan Arnette.
Courtesy of www.alanarnette.com © reproduction prohibited without authorization

You are upside down, wedged in a deep crevasse at 19,000 feet in the Khumbu icefall. Your team mate is on top of you and you think another is nearby. Walter LasererEveryone knew the serac would give way, they just didn’t know when. Walter Laserer found out, up close and personal. He not only lived to tell the story but went on to summit Everest on an extremely harsh day in the spring of 2009.

The 49 year-old, runs one of the largest guide services in central Europe, Laserer-alpin, from his office near Salzburg, Austria. Walter has been a UIAGM guide for over 20 years.

His climbing achievements are quite impressive: the north face of the Eiger during winter, a ski descent of Eiger’s west face, El Cap nose, the west face of Husacaran, Cerro Torre, a winter ascent of Denali plus multiple summer climbs, Vinson, Carstensz Pyramid, Aconcagua, Elbrus. Oh, and he loves to ski when not climbing!

He is quite experienced on Everest with four expeditions and another planned this spring. He knows both the victory and disappointment of Everest with three successful summits and one aborted attempt in 2005 when they were forced back at the Balcony by high winds on their summit bid.

I wanted to discuss his amazing crevasse incident of last year and introduce him to readers since often the U.S. guides seem to get so much press. I also wanted his views on guiding in general and any differences with the US style. He was kind enough to take some time off his beloved ski slopes to share his thoughts.

Q: Many readers may not be familiar with Laserer-alpin. Tell us a bit about yourself and your company.

A: I founded Laserer-alpin 20 years ago in Graz, Austria. Laserer-alpin has around 1000 clients each year and operates dozens of trips every year. During the main season there are about 20 guides working in our company, all of them fully IVBV certified. Our main business is guided mountaineering holidays in the alps. The expedition – product line is the “Seven Summits”. I  personally am  working as professional and fully certified IVBV Mountain guide since 1984, so for 25 years now. For the first time in 1995, I climbed Carstensz Pyramid with clients and started to guide all the seven summits.

Q: You see many different climbers while guiding the 7 Summits. How has climbing changed since you started?

A: The Internet has changed our whole world, also climbing. In the beginning we got clients through classic advertising and everything was much slower. Now people sign in for a trip via internet and you have to be very careful that they are mountaineers. I mean about 15 years ago, they were mountaineers, cyclist, climbers, canoeist, or marathon runners. Each of them did just his own single sport.

Now it is usual, that everybody outdoors does everything. I mean no more such specializing. Many clients run marathons and train for it, many of them go also outside and bike a lot, and one part of their game is climbing/mountaineering. And therefore they are, of course, not as experienced as clients who go just in the mountains. This is a big danger for us as guides (to take too unexperienced clients to serious goals), but also a very big chance, because those clients need and usually book a lot of professional preparations and special trainings.

Q: Some readers may know you from the crevasse rescue in the Khumbu icefall in 2009 that was shown on the TV show Everest: Beyond the Limit. I was amazed to see you not only survive but to go on and summit. Tell us a little about that experience.

First of all I want to thank once more all the persons, sherpas, guides, doctors who worked so great together to help us. For me it was a sign of the “Spirit of the south side on Everest”. All the professionals work well together on the mountain, although the teams in economic competition. This is how working professionals on a mountain is different from all other businesses, we have to work together, we have to help each other once we are out in the wilderness.  And when you help others it may come back to your own team.

The 2009 season on Everest was a very warm winter with very little snow (the previous year ‘08 it has snowed nearly nothing in the Solu Khumbu) and in ’09 it was very hot during the “rotations” to the high camps. The daily avalanche patterns from Pumo Ri, Lo La pass, west shoulder and Nuptse were more frequent and larger avalanches than in other years. Especially the hanging glacier high up on the west shoulder had created big avalanches prior to our accident. There was a big serac, which looked like it would fall down immediately, but nobody could know when that would happen. Everybody – especially all the guides – were very concerned when the next big one would come.

I had successfully finished the 2nd rotation with my team and we were on our final way down from camp 2 to base camp. We made the usual start at 6 in the morning reaching the icefall around 7 when the sun reached us. We could feel that it was very hot that day. I told my team to hurry and go as fast as they could.

The avalanche hit us at one of the last ladders on the way down, I could hear the noise, looked back and realized immediately, that this was the big one that everybody had been afraid of.

We had about 5 seconds for reaction. We unclipped from the fixed line and hurried about 5 meters over and into the shadow of a serac, the only one reachable in the short time. Unfortunately there was a very small crevasse at the base. We stepped with our feet at one side, and leaned our backs with the rucksacks on, against the ice wall on the other side. Bernice Notenboom was right of me and Lapka Nuru was on my left side.

When the avalanche finally hit us, it was the same feeling like somebody would empty a truckload of head-sized blue ice cubes over us. Our heads and upper body were protected from the serac, but unfortunately our legs were right in the line. It was impossible to withstand the enormous pressure. I fell upside down into the crevasse with lots of snow and ice spraying into my face.

Bernice fell on top of me. Lapka – I couldn’t see what happened to him. I fell about 15 meters down and became lodged with my rucksack against the walls, head down feet up, but could move my hands and feet. It was possible for me to press Bernice up, and help her to free herself.

But as I pressed her, my own body slid deeper down and stuck even more. I could feel slightly that my body went down more and more, melting into the ice from my body heat. I could breath less from minute to minute, as the ice walls narrowed more and more the lower I slid down. Bernice was able to climb up the crevasse and she immediately started to shout for help.

I knew, that from base camp it was about one hour up for help. I asked myself how long is it possible to stay alive upside down? I tried to free myself again and again. No chance, I was stuck with my rucksack. Finally I could turn my legs a bit sidewards, that eased my situation a bit, but now the cold came through my totally wet clothes. I knew I am dead, alive but dead. The only thing I could do was wait for the end.

It was not possible even to easily turn my head due to the narrow crevasse, but I could see a big red spot of blood down in the snow at the base. I started to push me up mentally, I had no idea how, but I knew I would find a solution! Again and again I tried to move – still no change. Finally I tried to open the strings of my rucksack, but meanwhile my hands were so frozen, that this was also impossible. I became unconscious.

When I awoke, I could see a knife hanging directly into my face from a miraculous appearing rope. I tried to take the knife with both my frozen hands but my fingers were not useable anymore. With gigantic effort I tried to cut the rucksack string – again in vain. Hopeless I sunk back and became unconscious again.

When I awoke next, shivering from the cold and meanwhile soaked with water, I realized, that somebody was next to me. “Please don´t go, don´t leave me alone”, are the words I remember mumbling to the man. He tried to reach me from the side, as from above this was not possible. He clipped me into a rope and was able to cut my rucksack strings. And upwards I went with enormous energy and speed; I crashed with my helmet against a blue ice spot and lost consciousness.

Next what I remember is laying in the sun with a very strong ache in my arm. Felix Stockenhuber our expedition doc, who could luckily survive the avalanche, stuck a needle into my veins. I again lost consciousness but realized that I was being carried. My whole body was aching, every bone and every move ached like crazy.

Finally I awoke fully and wanted to move. I tried to stand up, to do a couple steps and with help of others it worked. My Sherpa friend Phunuru carried a large oxygen bottle and we went slowly down to basecamp. Our basecamp Sirdar Pertemba informed me that a helicopter is on its way.

I canceled the helicopter immediately, as I felt better and better. I wanted to have more time to make any decision. Bernice, Felix and Tomsky from of my team were alive, but tragically our so nice and friendly Sherpa Lapka Nuru was still missing under the enormous masses of ice.

There are several important details that allowed us to survive. First of all, the excellent and very professional “work together” from more than half a dozen teams. The Indian Neru Military expedition, which came behind us first to the place of the accident. Our own Sherpa team coordinated from Pertemba, the great communication done from Ang Jang Pu, the fact that Danuru had a rope in his pack and is also able to work with it, the Benegas brothers with their unbelievable energy, Dave Hahn, who ran up with the life saving fluid for my blood, Russell Brice for helping also with his team and many others who I don’t know by name.

My fingers were a little frozen and I had many blue dots on my legs and lower body, also several cuts in my face. It took me about one week to suffer a bit, think a lot, and finally making the right decision. After a big discussion we all agreed, that it was in Lapkas honor to finish the climb in his memory.

The only thing left for me was: how to motivate myself to climb again through the dangerous Icefall. I had already been on three Everest expeditions and summited twice with clients.

The main fact in successfully guiding clients on such big and difficult mountains is “trust”. My clients have all spent a lot of time and money to reach their personal goal of a lifetime, and they trust me, to make it possible. “Life is passion” I thought, and after a good weather forecast we started for our summit bid. Twelve days after the accident I could successfully summit with clients for my 3rd time.

It was really interesting, that on our summit day, we would rescue a stranded American at 8300 m. He was alone, running out of oxygen, and had fallen in the dark before we found him around midnight,  nearly frozen to death. After putting him on his down parka again, given him something hot to drink, heat packs for his hands and a lot of our oxygen I radioed to other teams. The guy could stay alive but lost a couple fingers and toes, I think also his nose.

Q: Your 2009 Everest was in very harsh and windy conditions. Where would it rank in your history of difficult summits?

My history of difficult summits is long during more than 20 year of professional guiding. The most challenging climb was a winter ascent on Denali in February 1989. We nearly died in a furious winter storm which hit us above Denali pass (around 6000 m). After descending down to high camp in very stormy and dark conditions we nearly couldn’t find our snow cave in the intense storm. Tragically three Japanese died, but our team could stay alive with even no frostbite!

The second difficult climb was a terrible storm on Mt. Vinson, Antarctica. After the storm had destroyed many tents, we were climbing down from the new high camp, when we suddenly stumbled over two stranded Americans, one was even not able to go without help. Our very well trained and prepared group went down the 1200 m fixed lines with the assistant guides, while I rappelled the two Americans down to camp 1, where – once more Dave Hahn – did a great job in helping and rescuing. A couple days later we all could summit without any more troubles.

Q: Everest is known to be quite crowded these days. How does Laserer-alpin manage your schedule with all the crowds?

Compare to international big mountains, I don´t think that Everest is really crowded. On Aconcagua you have about 8000 climbers every year, on Denali around 1500 and on Everest about 300 on the south side with another 300 Sherpas helping. I mean it is the highest mountain in the world, and really beautiful. Of course people from all over the world come and want to climb.

On Mt. Blanc we have about 350 people every day during the season! And of course there are a lot of differences in the ability of the climbers. I am also thinking, that the amount of accidents is not big. For example in the Mt. Blanc area every season there will be about 50 people killed in accidents, alone on the Matterhorn 47 on an average year, but of course out of thousands of mountaineers and most of them not professional guided.

Here I think it is very important for us as guides and guide services to learn to say “no”, if a client is too weak. Or to go at a later date and prepare the clients in an other year of training before we take them on such big climbs.

The work as guide out on the mountain has to be once more networking with other groups. During the last seasons it was usual, that the professional teams at south col deal out a schedule for their groups. So that about every hour the next group is leaving. This avoid bigger crowds on the climb. I never had an awful experience with many people on Everest. But of course I am getting used to dealing with other guides from my long time experience of guiding in the Alps and south America. And of course it is much easier to deal with other guides if you know each other.

Q: With German as your native tongue, do your Sherpas also speak German?

There are many Sherpas working in the Alps during European main season, when they have monsoon in Nepal, there are some who even are able to speak German. But in Europe the school system is different to that in the states. My daughters, for example have learned their first English words in Kindergarden at age 5! They are now 16 years old and learn in the public school English, French, Spanish and Latin beside their native tongue German.

Q: As a European company, do you have a favorite gear company?

Not really, in Europe we have Mammut and Salewa as the two big players in gear, but also some American companies like The North Face are well established on the market.

For me as professional guide my expenses in gear are not big compare to the money we run through our company. Usually I get equipment for free from different companies for personal use.

Q: What are your thoughts on climbing ethics, in other words climbers being honest about their achievements and potential rules governing climbing?

In Europe right now a big mountain ethic discussion is starting. Maybe some of the readers have already heard about the “Tryol Declaration”. My personal thought about this is, that the main goal in mountaineering and climbing is freedom. If we start to establish rules for mountaineering we kill our own sport. Everybody should have the freedom to find his personal felicity in the mountains in the way he wants to. The border of freedom of course is, where you constrain somebody else.

The most important thing for me is honesty. For example if you use oxygen on a high mountain, you have to tell it. If you don´t use oxygen, you should treat others, who do, with respect. An other big discussion is about doping in mountaineering. Every season not only one climber fails, because of unprofessional use of pills/drugs.

Q: Do you see a difference between American and European guiding?

If you hire a guide, you should be sure, that he is well known and experienced, or has the AMGA /IVBV (American Mountain Guides Association, Internationaler Verband der nationalen Bergführer Verbände) education and is member of the International Guiding Association.

This is the highest level worldwide for guides.  In Europe it is unthinkable to work as guide without adequate education and being a member.  This is forbidden in the Alps and also all the insurance coverage is not given. Members of this IVBV are also allowed to work in all other member countries legal! Currently, I think about, 70 countries!

The beginning of mountain guiding in the alps has been the first ascent of Mt. Blanc 1786, with Balmat and Saussure. In this nearly 250 years, mountain holiday with a guide has a big tradition and a very special self under standing. European clients know usually, that they need to have a personal history of mountaineering before signing in for a big or difficult trip. I also think, that serious guiding means to consult potential clients about their goal, and to prepare them well in advance of the climb.

European clients want usually also to work on a trip and acting as whole team. For example it is usual, that European clients also cook on a trip themselves and on the other side the guide is mainly in duty for safety and making the decisions, tracking and the choice of a camp site etc .

Thanks Walter for an inspiring and educational interview. Best of luck with your Everest season this spring. You can follow Walter on his website

* Source : – Alan Arnette : 2010 Everest expeditions.

* Related Links :

Interview with Dave Hahn.

* Previous story :

Himalaya Spring 2010 expeditions.

2010 climbing season kick-off: Everest and Himalaya list of expeditions!

Everest 2010: Still Searching For Andrew Irvine and that Damn Camera!

Everest Clean-Up Above 8000m.

Summit Day on Mt Everest – amazing video.

The Deadly Side of Everest.

The Conquest of Everest – 1953 style : amazing video.

Everest 2010 season – Expeditions with any British Teams or Britons.

Everest 2010: An Interview with Phil Crampton of Altitude Junkies.

ExplorersWeb Year 2009 in Review: Farewell to friends.

Alan Arnette’s Everest 2010 Coverage Begins, Double Traverse Announced!

Everest Spring 2010 preview: Kaltenbrunner & Dujmovits.

How Much Does It Cost To Climb Mt. Everest?

* Polish Himalayas – Become a Fan

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