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Shisha Pangma south: Fingers crossed for good weather
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Apr 28, 2005 09: 29 EST
Ralf Dujmovits, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Hirotaka Takeuchi are currently in BC at the foot of Shisha Pangma’s south face. They have acclimatized on neighboring Pungpa Ri without even touching their main goal (Shisha); that’s the way it goes for climbers who are devoted to Alpine style. They’ll have to wait for a proper weather window to launch their definitive summit attempt.

Introduction to storms on Pungpa Ri

The acclimatization trip was no walk in the park, though. To climb and acclimatize at the same time on Pungpa Ri (7400 m), the team needed to set a camp at 6650m on a tiny platform carved 50 meters below the summit ridge. Poor weather conditions didn’t help either.

“We were in a 1,5 m x 2 m platform carved from sheer ice on a 50º slope, in hellish weather conditions,” reported Ralf. “We agreed to play the game and got into our sleeping bags, Hiro and I in one direction, Gerlinde in the middle in the other direction. We shared some potato-puree. Unfortunately we forgot all condiments, and the stuff tasted more like paper than like potatos, actually.”

The things you have to do for a dinner

The morning after, the weather was even worse. “However, we needed another acclimatization night at 6650. At least we could hydrate enough and dry our clothes,” wrote Ralf. The storm raged during the entire night and in the morning they descended back to Camp I to retrieve their things, and then all the way to BC – 2000 vertical meters below the point where they woke up. It was a long way, but they were hungry, and the thought of a huge dinner got them going. On the way down they had to stop for a few hours to find their way when a thick fog spread over the glacier. Finally they got their dinner, but it was a rather late one: They finally arrived at 00:30 am.

Since then, they’ve been resting and waiting for an improvement in the weather. “Keep your fingers crossed for good weather,” they said. “For now, it’s snowing.”

Busy agenda

The trio is taking another shot at Shisha Pangma’s South Face, in Alpine style. Last year they were forced to abort their attempt not far from the summit, when Ralf was hit by a falling stone. This spring, Shisha is just an appetizer: The main course will come immediately afterwards, when they attempt the Everest Supercouloir, without supplementary O2 and in pure Alpine style!

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

They’ll attempt an Alpine style climb which includes Shisha South Face and Everest 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 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 most recently Gasherbrum I: Six 8,000ers. Gerlinde is considered one of the top female high altitude climbers and is the 6th women 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.

The Japanese Couloir/Hornbein Couloir combination route is one of the most difficult and dangerous routes on Everest. Few have attempted it, and fewer succeeded. Only Erhard Loteran and Jean Troillet summited without O2 in 1986. The last attempt took place in 2004, by an American climbing/snowboarding expedition led by Stephen Koch.

Image by Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner of Ralf and Hiro in Camp I on Pungpa Ri, courtesy of the expedition Team/Amical.de.
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