Nilgiri South Face – Hansjörg Auer

Nilgiri South Face – Hansjörg Auer

Nilgiri South, South Face From October 22 to October 26 Hansjörg Auer, Alex Blümel and Gerry Fiegl successfully made the first ascent of the South Face of Nilgiri South (6839m). This is certainly one of the finest ascents of the season in the Himalayas and a long waited project has finally been realised. Nilgiri is located in the Annapurna massif in Nepal. Comprised of the North, Central and South Summit, the South Face rises directly from the glacier starting from 5400m up to 6839m.
 The Expedition started on October 5 and following a tricky and steep approach to Basecamp, the team immediately started the process of acclimatization. After spending two nights up in advanced basecamp at a height around 5300m, the conditions allowed for an immediate first attempt of the peak. “Out of his eyes shined the brightest light when we all reached the summit together. What happened next was one of the darkest moments in my life.” – Hansjörg Auer Hansjörg, Alex and Gerry climbed a line on the right side of the face, via the previous unclimbed Nilgiri Spire (6780m) and then by traversing up and down on the spectacular and exposed ridge, they reached the summit of Nilgiri South at 11am on October 25. It was the first ascent of this face and only the second ascent of the South Summit itself since the Japanese FA in 1978. The team’s descent via the previously unclimbed Southwest Ridge was more technical and difficult than they had expected and at approximately 2pm on the 26th of October Gerry Fiegl sadly took a fall from which he did not...
Matterhorn Obsession

Matterhorn Obsession

For the 150th anniversary of the first ascent of the Matterhorn, mountaineer and alpinist, Hervé Barmasse, decided to show his appreciation, dedication and passion for this iconic peak with a short film that illustrates that which makes the mountain so unique and his own relationship to it. As probably the man who knows the Matterhorn best, having made the most first ascents on it, he once said: “Like a fairy tale, the mountain belonged to me even before my birth.” His father, Marco Barmasse, was leaving for a first winter ascent of the west face of the Matterhorn, when his mother was giving birth to him. Since then, the Matterhorn became Barmasse’s playground. Not even his father’s attempts to steer him away from dangers and risks posed by the mountains, could keep him off it. Read our interview with Hervé, where he goes further into his thoughts about this iconic mountain and shares epic photos from one of his latest expeditions to the summit. The Interview. Photo credit: Damiano...
Matterhorn’s 150th Anniversary: 10 Questions for a Leading Mountaineer

Matterhorn’s 150th Anniversary: 10 Questions for a Leading Mountaineer

July 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the first ascent of the Matterhorn– the renowned mountain in the Alps straddling the border between Italy and Switzerland which has captured imaginations of explorers around the world. In the countless narratives of fearless ambitions, earned successes, and heroic failures on the Matterhorn, Herve Barmasse, accomplished alpinist and mountaineer, plays an indispensible role. This is not just because Barmasse holds the record for making the most first ascents on the Matterhorn, but more so for his fascinating relationship with the mountain. It’s for this reason that we sat down with Herve to ask him 10 questions about the Matterhorn and his experiences and feelings with this iconic peak 1. What are the objectives you are attempting on the Matterhorn this year before the 150th Anniversary of the first ascent? I have always been in search of new experiences on the Matterhorn different from the ones I had already done, soloing those routes that have been climbed only with a rope party, including the first solo on the south face of the Matterhorn in 2007. I opened new routes also soloing both in the summer and in the winter. Last winter I made the first enchainment of the four Matterhorn ridges. At this point, I might be wondering: “what I could do differently?” Mountaineering is both exploration and the search for the new. However, there is still something to be carried out, an objective never achieved before. I hope to be able to communicate it soon. Anyway, actions will speak louder than words. 2. You have spent a lot of time climbing in...
David Göttler: Freunde von Freunden Interview

David Göttler: Freunde von Freunden Interview

David Göttler: Mountaineer & Guide, Home & Surroundings, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc Sitting in the warm sun on the patio of a small lodge, with Mont Blanc almost in arm’s reach, we discussed his past expeditions, future plans and the complete fulfillment that comes with his job. His is a life of discipline, drive and hard-earned talent. This is the extraordinary life of David Göttler, mountaineer. What was your first real expedition? My first expedition was Patagonia in 1999 or 2000, so I was pretty young.

Nanga in Winter: Why We Had To End The Expedition at 7,200 m (23,622 ft)

Nanga in Winter: Why We Had To End The Expedition at 7,200 m (23,622 ft)

Our expedition is over. The Nanga summit remains only a desire for now. David realized it would be too dangerous on Saturday morning, March 1, at 7,200 m (23,622 ft). He had reached the top of the Mazeno Ridge with the Polish climber Tomas Mackiewicz. They had the opportunity to look at the other side of the mountain, the Diamir face, only to discover that the route up to the summit is still very long and grueling from there. The top section of the face was covered with blue ice.

Nanga in Winter: The First Summit Attempt, Why We Turned Back

Nanga in Winter: The First Summit Attempt, Why We Turned Back

The first summit attempt has failed, so we’re back at base camp again, and we have to start over from scratch. There definitely will be more attempts in the next days. On such huge mountains, a vain attempt is pretty normal because it happens in winter. The exceptions would be good weather, everything going smoothly, and the summit being easily accessible. Nanga Parbat has been attempted for 25 years in winter, and nobody has reached the summit so far. A few days ago, Simone, David…

Nanga In Winter: 3 Reasons why we have to wait patiently at basecamp

Nanga In Winter: 3 Reasons why we have to wait patiently at basecamp

On January 31 we spent a quiet day at base camp. The weather was snowy and foggy, and the Nanga peak was wrapped in cloud. Simone and David took a rest after the hard work of the previous days: they had climbed quickly to 7,000 m (22,965 ft) and set up C3 with a small tent, as planned. Everything had gone as it was supposed to. They were fine and Karl Gabl’s forecast had proven accurate as always: the sunshine of previous days had given way to fog and downpours, although such a change in weather had looked inconceivable to us. In the morning, we spoke to Tomasz over the radio: he was in advanced position at C2 and told us it was snowing with a strong wind. He inquired about the weather forecast. At first, he and his team intended to withstand the bad weather up there and then try to reach C3; but at that point, with an unfavorable forecast and such a strong wind, they were also having second thoughts. It was better not to stay on the ridge in such conditions. When the ground is hard and icy and a strong wind is blowing, it’s better not to hike or climb up there: on that black ice, mistakes are not allowed. Staying at base camp for several days in a row requires patience and emotional balance. It’s hard to stay motivated and focused on your goal, but waiting and getting ready for the ascent are the reasonable things to do in such circumstances: To climb such a huge mountain in winter, you need to be...
Nanga in Winter: The Expedition so far in the words of Simone Moro

Nanga in Winter: The Expedition so far in the words of Simone Moro

“The route conditions are peculiar: there’s only ice in the higher stretch, and not much snow on the mixed route. The Polish guys also said that it’s way different from last year; it’s much more difficult. Much more technical skill and dedication are required, and we have to pay more attention both ascending and descending the mountain; this means proceeding more slowly and cautiously.” “Thanks to Karl Gabl’s forecast, we’ve adapted to the weather conditions of the mountain; so now that the weather has worsened, we’re taking a rest after the challenge of the last two days. We’ve ascended and descended 2,700 m (about 8,858 ft), and thus scouted and prepared the trickiest and most difficult part of the route. It’s been hard work, and the Polish team thanked us for it. The Mazeno Ridge is now within our reach. I think we could reach it in one day at our current pace, but the Poles want to pitch camp halfway up, at about 6,600 m (about 21,650 ft) between camp 2 and camp 3. Actually, I believe all expeditions going up this way usually pitch camp halfway.” “Once you reach the Mazeno Ridge, you climb the Diamir slope for 250 m, then you cut horizontally to the left across the face, far above the serac barrier that stopped Dujmovits. From there, you eventually take the last stretch of the Kinshofer route. It’s a very long route that traverses from the Rupal slope to the Diamir and back. The route up is exactly how I expected it would be: I’m perfectly aware that it’s not easy and that it...
Nanga in Winter: The Expedition so far, in the words of David Goettler

Nanga in Winter: The Expedition so far, in the words of David Goettler

We are above all and still so fare away from the summit. That is what i know and realize on that day. High above our lovely basecamp, which is on a frozen and with snow covered meadow almost 3000m below us. Where our cook Didar and the kitchen boy Aquil are waiting for us to come back. High above the surrounding mountains, which are all so much lower than Nanga Parbat itself. And we enjoy a view like on a summit of another 8000m peak. But we have still a long way to go. And we already left camp 2 at 6100m behind us. “camp 2” and “61000m” sounds both so low, but here on Nanga Parbat it seems to be high above all. We are connected to the world via satellite and it feels like being just around the corner of the next big city. But it is a false picture and feeling. We are on an island, somewhere in the mountains, cold and isolated and only my mind and thoughts and dreams are able to escape to places where it is warm and cosy and my love is. But on the other hand the island is not empty. We are not alone. we are surrounded by friends. the Sherpas, the original habitants of that island here, have welcomed us. Day by day they spread out and try to find a bit of grass for their shepherd, they cut wood to heat their small huts, just behind our tents. And they come and play card games with our staff and we chat with them. And with us there...
Nanga in Winter: Looking Back on the Journey to camp 2 at 6,000m (19,000ft)

Nanga in Winter: Looking Back on the Journey to camp 2 at 6,000m (19,000ft)

The third week of our expedition is over. Here’s what happened in the last few days Simone and David ventured up nearly to C2 at 6,000 m (19,700 ft). On the way there, they slept a couple of nights at C1, at about 5,100 m (16,700 ft). The acclimatization program is going well; they’re both in shape and make a good team. The route is now open up to C2, thanks also to the hard work of our Polish friends. So even C2 has been set up in a big crevasse below the Mazeno Ridge, which will be our long route up to the peak. The mountain conditions are good at the moment. The weather is quite stable: it snowed just a couple of times this week, the sky is often clear, and the temperature is low but bearable. At base camp, the temperature got down to –29°C (–20°F) a couple of times, but when the sky is overcast, the weather is milder. Now, based on Karl Gabl’s forecast, we expect the wind to increase from January 21 on. On January 18, Simone and David set off for their second acclimatization rotation, aiming at passing C2 and reaching the ridge before the weather gets worse again; the idea is to start exploring a short stretch of the ten-kilometer ridge. Their goal is to briefly venture up to 7,000 m (22,900 ft) if the wind permits. This will be a crucial stage both for acclimatization and the summit attempt. The next update on Simone and David’s descent back to base camp will appear here on The North Face Journal. Stay...
Nanga In Winter: Teaming up To Reach Camp 2 at 6000m

Nanga In Winter: Teaming up To Reach Camp 2 at 6000m

After the first days spent among acclimatization climbs, laughter at base camp and silent glacier hikes, after all the preparation and organization to get here, after stepping in each other’s tracks while alternating leads toward C2, Simone and David have finally become one. Two men tightly roped together. Sometimes, one plus one is more than two. It happens when we throw ourselves body and soul into a new challenge, and we take care of our team-mate as of ourselves. In mountaineering, in real rope teams, 1+1 is always at least...
Nanga In Winter: Dealing with Weather & Technology in A Winter Expedition

Nanga In Winter: Dealing with Weather & Technology in A Winter Expedition

We’ve been stuck at the base camp for a couple of days. After an acclimatization climb up to C1 at 5,100 m (about 16,700 ft), we descended back to the base camp on Tuesday. Then the weather changed. Before the ascent, Karl Gabl, our meteorologist from Innsbruck, had recommended that we return to the base camp by Tuesday evening because snow and wind would be coming not long after. He had emphasized this. On Tuesday afternoon, Simone and David descended from C1 in good weather. I had descended on the previous evening. None of us said anything, but we all wondered if Karl might have been wrong. The sky was blue and clear above us. We went to bed under the stars; it was pretty cold, between -15°C and -20°C (5°F and -4°F). At about 2 a.m., I woke up hearing snowflakes gliding over the tent’s flysheet, and it wasn’t so cold anymore outside the sleeping bag. The sky had obviously grown overcast. Karl was right. When we got up in the morning, there were about 10 cm (4″) of snow. On Tuesday evening, we invited the guys from the Polish expedition to dinner. It was a pleasant evening, and we didn’t just talk about mountains and Nanga. Our conversation ranged from intercontinental motorcycle trips and broken-down engines in the middle of the desert, to flights from roadblocks in Russia and drones(the Polish guys have got a drone) to vodka and wine. Oddly enough, we didn’t talk about women, maybe because there were too many of us; there were three of us and six Poles, too many people for...