Ralf and Gerlinde’s wish for 2006: Kangchenjunga
(MountEverest.net) Amidst all of the world's expeditions in 2005, Gerlinde was chosen number one by ExplorersWeb a few days back. Her traverse of Shisha Pangma, bold attempt on Everest Superculoir and hard climb of Gasherbrum 2 - all in light style, without oxygen but a great deal of heart, made ExplorersWeb notice the woman first introduced to climbing by a priest.
Now a world record for female high altitude mountaineering is next: Gerlinde's number 9. Which will it be?
Ralf and Gerlinde are currently back home, spending Christmas after climbing Cholatse (Nepal Himalaya) last fall, to produce some climbing photos for their sponsors. Gerlinde has stayed out of the spotlights long enough, now the investors want some cool pictures.
“We want to give Kangchenjunga another try,” Ralf says, who first attempted Kangchenjunga with Gerlinde in 2003. It was a special climb - their first as a couple (they had met one year before on Manaslu) and they reached 7200 meters together.
“We haven't yet figured out where to acclimatize,” Ralf told us, referring to their usual climbing strategy: Acclimatize on a different peak and then go for a single, alpine-style push.
Who else? “Most probably we'll climb with Hirotaka again, and maybe with Veikka and Andrew Lock,” Ralph says.
Finnish Veikka Gustafsson has summited 10, 8000ers, many of them teaming up with American Ed Viesturs. However, Ed is done with his quest, and now Veikka will need to get new climbing-mates to complete his own challenge. Climbing by Viesturs’ side, Veikka summited Cho Oyu and Annapurna last year.
45, 8000ers among 5 climbers
Australian Andrew Lock, also with 10, 8000ers, has been trying to find a team for Kangchenjunga for some time. He hoped to attempt the peak last year, but lack of climbers to share the climbing fee with forced him to look for a ‘cheaper’ goal: Annapurna. Andrew was only steps above Abele Blanc and Christian Kuntner, when a serac fell, killing Kuntner and leaving Abele and two other climbers seriously injured.
If the all-star team is confirmed, its members would add up a total of 45 eighthousanders summited (not taking repetitions into account)!
At 8586m Kangchenjunga is the third tallest mountain on Earth - and a tough challenge to climb without supplementary oxygen.
A relatively lonely mountain, few dare to climb Kang's dangerous slopes and even less are lucky enough to say they’ve reached the summit. That is, if they live to tell at all. Even the 8000er masters need to think twice before taking on the mighty Kangchenjunga.
Ralf and Gerlinde met in 2002 on Manaslu – they fell in love and have been together since then, turning into one of the most prominent climbing couples ever. In later years, Japanese climber Hirotaka Takeuchi has been a regular climbing buddy in the team.
Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner has summited Cho Oyu, Makalu, Manaslu, Nanga Parbat, Annapurna, Gasherbrum I, Shisha Pangma (she completed the traverse in alpine style earlier this year), and Gasherbrum 2. Extremely strong and self-sufficient, advocate of alpine-style, Gerlinde is considered one of - if not the - top female high altitude climbers. She has also summited Shisha Pangma Central and Broad Peak foresummit.
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 out of 14 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 also traversed Shisha Pangma in 2005.
Japanese climber Hirotaka has summited Makalu, Everest, K2, Nanga Parbat, Annapurna, GI, and Shisha Pangma. 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. Thus, he has summited seven 8,000ers.
Andrew Lock is Australia’s most accomplished altitude climber. His 8000+m summits include: 1993 K2, 1997 Dhaulagiri, 1997 Broad Peak, 1998 Nanga Parbat, 1999 Hidden Peak, 1999 Gasherbrum 2, 2000 Everest, 2002 Manaslu, 2002 Lhotse, 2003 Shishapangma, 2004 Everest.
An experienced Antarctic veteran, Andrew has led, trained and guided members of the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions on multiple expeditions and guided commercial groups across Antarctica and the sub Antarctic.
Finnish Veikka Gustafsson has summited 10 8000ers, many of them teaming up with American Ed Viesturs.
Kangchenjunga, also known as the “Five Treasures of the Great Snow,” is an immense mountain mass situated on the Sikkim-Nepal border and the most easterly of the Himalayan peaks. The peak was once thought to be the tallest mountain in the world. Attempts to climb the peak started in 1905. But it was fifty years and at least eight expeditions later before British climbers George Band and Joe Brown first stood on its summit on May 25, 1955.
Out of respect for Sikkim religion, the party stopped just shy of the summit. At 8586m it is the third tallest mountain on Earth… but not the third most visited of the great 8000ers. Instead, Kang is a relatively lonely mountain. Few dare to climb its dangerous slopes and even less are lucky enough to say they’ve reached the summit. That is, if they live to tell at all. Even the 8000ers collectors need to think twice before they consider this challenge.
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