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Shisha Pangma Debrief: Ralf, Gerlinde and Hirotaka's Alpine style traverse, part 2 final
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May 13, 2005 11: 29 EST
Ralf Dujmovits, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Hirotaka Takeuchi summited Shisha Pangma on May 8th, after climbing the difficult south face in Alpine style. The guys descended via the northern side, completing the South-to-North traverse of the mountain.

Back in BC, they have put together their impressions, memories, and a set of super cool images of the climb.

After six days of climbing, fighting unknown territory and poor weather conditions, doubts started to cloud Ralf’s mind. But Gerlinde kept the team's spirits high: “We’re gonna make it.”

Today, the final part 2 of the Exweb debrief series. The following is an excerpt from Ralf’s expedition diary:

Midnight breakfast

Saturday, May 7th – Sunday, May 8th

"We had breakfast at 11:00 pm; at 1:30 am we were off. We had to work hard on the ridge for the first 100 meters. After that it got slightly better: The recent avalanches had left a track of hard snow, which we followed in the dark. Increasing cold winds were not making the climb any easier. I had forgotten to put on a second pair of warm pants under the outer-suit, and I was freezing. I couldn’t get properly warm even after Hiro and Gerlinde energetically massaged my feet and legs. Both of them were suffering almost as much as me. After six days of pushing hard we were wasted."

Deep snow, strong winds, and the highest point

"At last, the sun’s rays reached the upper part of the summit ridge. We had hoped that it would be a flatter section but, no luck, it was 60º steep. Besides, the higher we climbed, the tougher the snow conditions got. We followed the ridge as it turned to the right. A sense of joy started to well inside us. On the edge of the ridge, the snow was deep, making progress exhausting. But the view of the brownish Tibetan plateau was amazingly beautiful. Strong winds whipped us all the way to the highest point of the main summit. It was done."

"At 11:00 am , Nepal time, we stood against the strong wind and looked out across the clear views from the summit, crazily happy and extremely tired. We had carried all our gear – including the soaked sleeping bags, mattresses, tent, stoves, ropes, etc.- all the way to the summit."

Anticipation and freedom

"By hauling all our gear, we had the fantastic chance of accomplishing the first traverse from South to North on Shisha Pangma. The idea got into my head: To descend in a different direction from the one we took to get to the summit. On an 8000er! And so there we were, enjoying the feelings of anticipation and freedom. I had summited Shisha once in 1997 and I could remember that the route went under the 50º steep slope below the central summit, traversing to the north side. My plan worked and we reached the North Ridge without further problems. Very tired, by late afternoon we reached a couloir at 7000, where we set our tent again for a last cold, stormy bivouac night."

"The next morning we descended five hours to the Amical expedition BC on the north side of Shisha Pangma, a wonderfully supplied camp. We spent the entire afternoon lying in the tents, almost unconscious and happy. We had climbed the South Face of Shisha Pangma and traversed to the other side, and we did it all in Alpine style, without fixed ropes, without O2, without previous knowledge of the route. Just our backpacks on our shoulders, and that was it."

Mountain addicts getting high

Monday, May 9th – Tuesday, May 10th

"We were about 25 kms away from the Chinese BC, which took us 4 hours to reach in our heavy boots and backpacks. Once there, we got into a jeep that took us on a great trip to our starting point in Nyalam. On the next morning we made the six hour-long trek to our camp on the south side of the mountain, where Sitaram and Phintso cooked some wonderful dishes for us. After 10 days away, we had returned with an unforgettable experience lived more in our heads than in our legs. "No drug could ever replace this feeling of satisfaction and happiness!" "

"Today, May 12th, we will head out with the yak caravan and our belongings back to Nyalam. There, we will take on a resupply of vegetables and fruit before departing tomorrow for Everest. We will let you know when we get there. As for today, best regards from our BC on the south side of Shisha Pangma.

Gerlinde, Hiro und Ralf."

German climber Ralf Dujmovits, Austrian Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, and Japanese climber Hirotaka Takeuchi have rejoined forces this spring for some doubleheader action in the Himalaya.

Their first – accomplished – goal was an Alpine style climb on Shisha Pangma’s South Face. They summited on May 8th and traversed to the north side.

The next goal, also in Alpine style, is Everest’s North Face though the Supercouloir (combination route on the Japanese Ridge and Hornbein Couloir).

Ralf Dujmovits started climbing at the age of 7 at The Battert, a climbing school near Baden-Baden (Southern Germany). Currently he is in charge of Amical Alpine, and has summited 10 8000ers: Dhaulagiri in 1990, Everest in 1992, K2 in 1994, Cho Oyu (1) in 1995, Shisha Pangma Central Summit in 1996, Shisha Pangma main Summit in 1997, Cho Oyu (2) in 1998, Broad Peak in 1999, GII in 2000, Nanga Parbat in 2001, Annapurna I in 2004, GI in 2004. He has guided teams on all those peaks, except Annapurna.

In 2004, Ralf, Gerlinde and Hirotaka summited Annapurna, after a serious attempt on Shisha Pangma’s South Face. In summer, they planned on climbing both Gasherbrums and K2, but poor weather conditions left them with only enough time to summit GI.

Ace female climber, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, has summited Cho Oyu, Makalu, Manaslu, Nanga Parbat, Annapurna and Gasherbrum I. Gerlinde is considered one of the top female high altitude climbers and is the 6th woman to reach Anna's summit. She has also summited Shisha Pangma Central and Broad Peak.

Japanese climber Hirotaka has summited Makalu, Everest, K2, Nanga Parbat, and in 2004, he summited Annapurna and GI. He summited Everest and K2 back to back in 1996 and, at the age of 25, became the youngest climber to summit the world's two highest mountains. He now has six 8,000ers.

Of course, the three climbers can now add Shisha Pangma’s main summit to their lists.

Images, courtesy of the expedition team/Amical.de:

1.Gerlinde and Ralf on the summit.
2.Climbing the upper couloir at dawn.
3.Gerlinde enjoying the first sun’s rays.
4.Gerlinde and Ralf walking the last meters before the summit.
5.Ralf and Hiro on the summit, Shisha’s Central summit on the background.
6.On the descent, traversing below the central summit.
7.Back to Nyalam on the Tibetan plateau.
8.Congratulation cake.

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