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Everest 2005: Jarle Tra, Alone without O2
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Feb 2, 2005 12: 09 EST
This spring, Norwegian climber Jarle Tra, 34, will attempt Everest from the Tibetan North Col route, without supplementary O2. If he succeeds, he will be the first Norwegian to complete a no O2 Everest climb.

He has named his expedition ‘Alone to Everest’. Technically, Jarle won’t be alone—there will be dozens of teams climbing the same route at the same time. In fact, there will be some fellow Norwegians; two ladies, Sigrid Hammer and Aud Jovall will be attempting the same route.

No “Team” in “I”

However, Jarle believes that team work might not be the best method on Everest. “I climb like this because this is the best way for me to climb a big mountain,” he said. “Totally independent, I do not have to rely on other people’s physical abilities, climbing skills or judgements.”

Therefore, the Norwegian developed his own strategy to ascend the slopes of Mount Everest from BC. Using light equipment, he will carry the loads himself and establish his own camps (Base Camp, Intermediate Camp and Advanced Base Camp) He will also be without Sherpa assistance or a cook. “It is my philosophy to make everything as simple as possible,” he said.

“This way, my expedition costs only a fraction of what you pay to be a member of a commercial expedition. And the fact that I do not have to deal with the Yak-drivers - well, I guess most of us with Tibet-experience would look at that as a big advantage...When climbing, I believe strongly in focusing on the mountain. I want to remember Everest for the fantastic scenery and the unbelievable great nature experience - not for sitting in BC stressing with all kind of technical challenges with O2 equipment, computers, dvd-players and so on.”

Not a Solo Climb

Jarle will climb without a chain of higher camps set in advance. He will plant a tent on North Col during acclimatization period, but will take it down before going for the summit. “My goal is to have no camps on the mountain when I start my summit push,” he said. Jarle will carry a tent, gas, food and a sleeping bag on his summit bid, from ABC to the summit. However, he may use fixed ropes. “I do not plan on using the fixed ropes much,” he said, “but I will pay the fee to whoever fixes the route, because I want to feel free to "clip on" the most exposed sections (like the Second Step) without feeling like I am "breaking the rules". This is also the reason why I do not call this climb "alpine style" or a "solo" climb.”

Plan Worked on Cho Oyu

The climber is confident his plan will work as well as it did last year on Cho Oyu. “There I had support in BC and ABC and we used yaks to carry the equipment, but on the mountain I did everything alone and I did not have any camps established on the mountain when I made my summit push. I had a tent at camp 1 during the acclimatization period. I pushed from ABC to camp 2 the first day of my summit push, carrying all the equipment, and then from Camp 2 to summit in 6 hours the next day. On my way down again, I spent one more night at Camp 2 before returning to ABC.”

Interview with Jarle Tra

Explorersweb spoke with Jarle before his departure. He said he will spend some weeks in the Alps to start the acclimatization process before flying to Kathmandu.

ExWeb: We can't help wondering why you are going on your own.

Jarle: I am a person who like very much to be around other people, I am not a "loner"... But I don't have any problem being alone either, as I realized in 1994 when I trekked the Norwegian mainland mountain range alone (almost 3000 km in 3 months). For me, some mountains are better climbed alone. It is a fact that when there are many members in an expedition, some will feel that they have to push higher although they probably should stay lower to acclimatize - we all acclimatize differently. Many accidents happen because of this.

Do you climb solo - or alone - often?

Jarle: I have climbed other mountains as a member of bigger expeditions - like Muldrow route on the north side of Mt. McKinley in Alaska. But on Everest I think there are a lot of good reasons to climb alone. Or to look at it the other way around - I do not see many very good reasons to be part of a big team on Everest.

Even going on your own, you won't be 'alone' on the mountain. What do you think about the huge number of teams on the mountain? Will it spoil somehow the experience, or can they be of help and provide 'company' up there?

Jarle: There is nothing anyone can do about this fact, so I don't waste energy worrying about it.

Aren't you taking O2 with you even for emergency use? If not, would you just turn around and renounce to the summit if you've problems with altitude or exposure?

Jarle: I have teamed up with one of Norway’s biggest experts on altitude medicine, Halvard Stave (who has also climbed Cho Oyu). He will be my advisor and has helped me a lot also in the planning stage of the expedition. I will have a sat-phone so that I am able to get in contact with him."

"I have also made an agreement with one commercial expedition, so that their rescue team will assist me in an emergency situation. I will then be able to use their oxygen and gamow bag if something should happen. However I am not the kind of climber who pushes too early on big mountains. I take my time to get the acclimatization straight. On Cho Oyu I waited until I felt ready, even though there was great weather and a lot of climbers summiting before me. The reason for not using supplementary O2 is also just a part of my philosophy to make things simple. We all know there are many drawbacks with oxygen, like the risk of technical failure, the weight, icing up of the goggles - not seeing where to put your foot and so on.

Extremely confident for the upcoming challenge, this was his comment when we wished him good luck:

“Thank you. I plan to be so well prepared that I will not be dependant on luck... I am looking forward to this expedition only with joy - not fear. The only fear I have is to catch some kind of "silly" small infection that threatens the whole expedition because of the body’s poor immune-defense at altitude.”

Take care then, Jarle. We’ll be following you.

Jarle has climbed Cho Oyu, Denali, Kilimanjaro and many of the 4000ers in the Alps. He has also skied across Greenland and trekked the Norwegian mainland from the south to the north - approximately 3000 km. He works as an industrial climber on the oil-platforms in the North Sea.

Images of Jarle -1. With Cho Oyu on the background; 2. On Kilimanjaro; 3. On Denali; 4. At work on an oil-platform, courtesy of Jarle Tra/Alone to Everest.

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