Archive for September, 2011

Kaltenbrunner interview on Sports Studio

September 21, 2011

There has been a translation into English of the interview that Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Ralf Dujmovits gave to Sports Studio. It’s a YouTube video and if you click the cc button near the bottom then the English subtitles will appear.

The highlights of the interview are below.

  • Gerlinde says  that she was tired after coming back from K2. She will rest for a time.
  • Ralf said that in 1992 he climbed Everest with oxygen. His dream is to climb it without
  • Gerlinde said that when she started climbing the 8000m mountains she realised she wanted to do it without oxygen or porters
  • She said climbing an 8000m mountain with oxygen is like climbing a 6500m mountain without oxygen. It’s a big difference but an important one for her
  • Ralf said that without oxygen your body gets colder and are more susceptible to frostbite.
  • They had temperatures between -25 and -35 on K2. When windy its much colder
  • At their bivouac at 8300m it was -28 inside the tent. They did not sleep in the tent that night, but rather relaxed before the final summit push. There were 4 of them in a 2 man tent.
  • Oxygen at 8000m is about a third of what it is at sea level. Ralf said that at 8000m every part of your body is screaming and wants to go down. Need huge mental strength to keep going up at this height.
  • They travelled 10km along a glacier to reach camp 1 at the base of K2’s North Ridge
  • The North Ridge was steep
  • They spent 2 nights at camp 4 at 8000m fixing ropes
  • They had to bivouac at 8300m after going through deep snow
  • To prove they made the summit each climber took pictures of each other.
  • They had perfect weather. There was no higher that they could go.
  • Ralf turned back early on the last time they left for the summit. Ralf said that in 1994 he made the summit of K2 and also it had snowed a lot which influenced his risk assessment. He felt that Gerlinde really wanted to make the summit and knew what was the best decision for her. It was his decision to go back down but others may have a different risk assessment than his. Her decision worked out fine. They had talked beforehand about if one of them wanted to turn around. It was important to talk about these things before they left so not to talk about them in stressful situations.
  • In terms of helping each other if one’s life was in danger, Ralf said that if one of them was ill then they would do anything to rescue them. Ralf knew she was with other strong climbers so would be ok without him.
  • Gerlinde was hoping that Ralf would come with them, but she respects his decision. They were in constant radio contact so that made Gerlinde feel like they were climbing together.
  • Ralf was able to pass on the weather forecast from Charlie Gabl in Innsbruck. He also watched them as they climbed K2 and gave advice. In the end , Ralf thought it was not a bad thing he stayed behind.
  • Erick Tischler congratulated Gerlinde on her achievement. He was a priest who took Gerlinde and others after church service to the mountains. She first gained an appreciation of nature from this. He also married Gerlinde and Ralf.
  • Some of the foods that they showed that they took up K2 included pasta bolognas, baby porridge and dried fruit.
  • Gerlinde showed the down suit that she wore on K2. It was very warm she said. It provided great protection against frostbite.
  • Her luxury item she takes with her is a toothbrush when climbing. Other climbers don’t take one often.
  • The medical kit included medicine for cerebral or pulmonary oedema. Also a strong pain killer.
  • Gerlinde said that her training as a nurse helped her on occasions when climbing to help others. This time though it was not needed.
  • The 2 man tent weighed about 1.2kg. This was the one they spent the night at 8300m.
  • They try and drink 5lt of water a day when climbing.

Source: Sports Studio on YouTube


Walter Bonatti dies

September 21, 2011

Mountaineering great Walter Bonatti has died. He was someone who ascended some of the most difficult climbing routes and had some notable firsts on these. But it perhaps his role in the first successful ascent of K2 in 1954 that Bonatti is best known for.

Bitter 1954 K2 controversy

His role in the successful 1954 first ascent of K2 by an Italian expedition has been controversial and only recently has it finally been cleared up what happened. This was a massive expedition with a total of 9 camps (in contrast to 4 now) and hundreds of porters, along with other climbers from Italy, climbing up the Abruzzi Ridge.

The controversy revolves around the role Bonatti and a Hunza porter played on July 30, 1954. This was the day before the successful summit of K2 by Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli. The facts of what happened were disputed for years between these climbers.

Delivery of the oxygen bottles

Bonatti and Hunza porter Amir Mahdi were supposed to deliver oxygen to the 2 lead climbers of the expedition at camp 9(somewhere just below the bottleneck and higher than climbers now make their final camp at about 8000m). Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli had made their final camp here before the summit. But this camp was higher than what was initially planned the day before. These leading 2 climbers were dependent upon Bonatti and Mahdi delivering them the final supply of oxygen so that they could make a summit attempt of K2 the next day.

Bonatti and Mahdi were late getting to the camp of these climbers and because the camp and they did not have time before dark to reach it. The headlamp from Mahdi was broken and Bonatti’s was no longer working. Mahdi was exhausted. They could not together make it up there.

They called out to Compagnoni and Lacedelli but were initially not heard. Eventually came a response from Lacedelli asking if they had the oxygen bottles. Bonatti replied that they had the oxygen bottles.  Lacedelli told him to leave in there and they would collect the oxygen bottles later. He also told them to go back down K2. But because the wind was blowing the messages between them were difficult to relay and possibly some of what Lacedelli said was not heard by Bonatti.

In the end Bonatti and Mahdi left the 2 oxygen tanks at the place where they were supposed to be for Compagnoni and Lacedelli at about 8100m.

Bonatti and Mahdi could not descend that night. Their headlamps were dead and Mahdi was in no condition to descend. He needed to stay in a tent because of his worsening condition. Because the leading climbers had placed the tent higher and in a more difficult position, it was impossible for Mahdi to reach the leading climber’s tent. So he and Bonatti had to endure a forced bivouac at around 8100m. Bonatti would later complain that they deliberately set the tent so high that he and Mahdi would not be able stay in the tent with them.

The cold that night caused severe frostbite to Mahdi’s fingers and toes. He ended up losing fingers and toes as a result. Bonatti escaped without such injuries. They ended up descending K2 after just surviving the bivouac, while Compagnoni and Lacedelli made their attempt on the summit.

Accusations against Bonatti

The next day Compagnoni and Lacedelli reached the summit of K2. They were the first climbers to make the summit of the second highest mountain in the world. The problem for these climbers started when they ran out of oxygen. In the end it would result in a desperate attempt to get back down K2.

Allegedly Compagnoni would later say that Bonatti had used some of the oxygen in the tanks. This meant, according to his account, which they ended up running out of oxygen. This not only risked the chances of them making the summit but also put their lives in danger. They ended up reaching the summit at 6pm on 31st July 1954. But they had run out of oxygen from the cylinders that were left for them by Bonatti and Mahdi.

Compagnoni allegedly said that he believed that Bonatti had deliberately used the oxygen tanks that they carried that day so as to sabotage the summit attempt. He believed that Bonatti wanted to be the first climber to reach the summit of K2.

Bonatti defends himself

Bonatti said that he did not use any of the oxygen that was meant for the final climbing pair. He also said that he left full bottles of oxygen at 8100m at the place where they were supposed to leave them. In fact, he said, he could not have because he did not have the face mask and tubes to use the oxygen tanks.

Rather he accused the final climbing pair of deliberately setting the final camp much higher than the designated spot. Bonatti said that he and Mahdi were supposed to stay in the tent with the final pair that night at camp 9.

A newspaper accused Bonatti years later of deliberately trying to sabotage the chances of Compagnoni and Lacedelli of making the summit, so that he would be the first. The journalist had sourced Compagnoni and other sources from that expedition. He won a libel case against the newspaper.

Lino Lacedelli’s recent account of Bonatti’s role

In recent years though Lacedelli has set the record straight on what happened. He said that he and Compagnoni did receive the oxygen from Bonatti and Mahdi. In fact, that they did run out of oxygen that day. But it was not because of the lack of oxygen in the tanks. Rather it was the exertion from a much more demanding last days climb than they had expected that meant the oxygen ran out much sooner than they planned.

Clearing of Bonatti’s reputation

In 1994 a court ruled in favour of Bonatti against the accusation that he used the oxygen that was given to the leading 2 climbers.

Bonatti is now seen to have been a victim of false accounts of his role in the successful summit of K2. His and Mahdi’s delivery of oxygen to Compagnoni and Lacedelli helped made it possible for the first ascent of K2.


Kaltenbrunner interviewed on TV

September 4, 2011

Both Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Ralf Dujmovits have been interviewed on German TV. It is in German. They talk about the expedition to K2 and the final successful climb for Kaltenbrunner.

Sports Studio Interview

Kazakh climbers arrive home

September 4, 2011

Maxut Zumayev and Vassily Pivtsov have arrived home in Kazakhstan after coming back from their successful climb on K2. Arriving at Almaty, a city in Kazakhstan, were also Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, Ralf Dujmovits, and Darek Zaluski. Tommy Heinrich had already left the group in Kyrgyzstan before they arrived in Almaty.

On the 2nd on September they met supporters at the airport in the VIP lounge. On his website Zumayev thanked all those who had supported them on the expedition.

At the moment the Kazakhstan climbers have no definite plans after conquering all 14 8000m mountains. Their thoughts are towards their family at the moment.

Source: Kazpatriot