Here is the Blog Joël wrote during his expedition
Here is the Blog Joël wrote during his expedition

 

Moving

by JW - satellite phone Posted on February 6, 2013
Moving up. The central pillar and the wall are too dry. I’m going to try the S-E pillar. I’ve got 3 days. Bye, take care and thanks for following.

 

Bad weather: good field test for my tent

by JW - satellite phone Posted on February 5, 2013
Strong wind today, much more than yesterday. Trapped inside my tent for two days. The tent is shaking all the day, and sometimes it’s quite limit. I’m not sure if you can see the video in the previous post. It’s too expensive for me to try to send other videos, sorry. My ABC tent is certainly destroyed, hopefully everything is under snow and not blown away. Constant belly pain today but it’s ok..I think..I don’t care. It’s getting difficult to eat, my food is very simple and it’s always the same. Altitude freeze-dried food was too expensive for me. Last time when I was very sick, I could only eat 500kcal in 2 days. On regular days, I eat approx. 1000kcal. It’s not enough, but I can not eat more, I would vomit it. The ibex is right, salted cashews are much better than natural ones. I’m a little worried for the other climbers, like the Poles on Schell route. Hopefully they are safe. Fida is looking for my visa extension. If possible I would like to stay here up to the 21st Marc h, which is the end of my permit and the end of winter. Beside my family, there’s nothing good for me in France and I prefer to stay here, even in storms, till the last moment. I also need perfect conditions to climb, otherwise it’s way too risky. My route is very technical and exposed. I can not climb like the other teams are doing: establish fixed camps one by one and constantly climb higher. It’s not possible on this part of the Rupal face, the sanction would be immediate and unique. But notice that this weather was perfect for my route. Next week, if my body allows it, …

Waiting, waiting, waiting
by JW - satellite phone Posted on February 3, 2013
This guys have some sense of humour! I like their style xD

 

Bleeding
by JW - satellite phone Posted on February 3, 2013
Today, I’m losing blood from my intestines. It’s great… But I’m used to (luckily? or sadly?), so I can mentally handle it and this is not a problem. I take everything easy, stay positive and simple, eat rice and try to get drunk with tea. When I was losing blood 2 years ago, I could barely walk at sea level, with a constant acid feeling in my belly. Damned, what a good souvenir! xD Don’t worry about me, I would continue to climb with my intestines in my hands. I don’t care anymore. Only engagement is important. The sickness should drag me down, but no, it’s the opposite. I think about all the people suffering and this put me on fire. I’m more motivated than ever and pumped up. It was always nice to see how Jean-Eudes Demaret was my little brother’s hero as he was a pro cyclist, and how he gave him hope. Hopefully I can bring some warm and positive feelings to someone that is suffering, and even if it’s just one person, add a little sun in his life.

 

 

Full of snow￐￐
by JW - satellite phone Posted on February 3, 2013
Waiting in C2. The mountain is full of snow and completely different. Couloirs are constantly purging, it’s coming from everywhere. Some times it looks like clouds that are coming down. But no, it’s all the couloirs purging together. So Nanga Parbat is temporary closed. Tuesday is going to be interesting with heavy snowfall.

 

The big wolf that walked around ABC
by JW - satellite phone Posted on February 2, 2013
I send you a better quality image of this amazing track. I took this picture one day before the other one, it’s more fresh and detailed. When I saw it, I could not move for 10 seconds. I was starring at this and asking me how could this be possible. So close from my tent and as I was in camp. Incredible. On which other 8000m mountain do you have wolves walking around your tent? Things like that only happen on Nanga Parbat.

 

Ibex experimenting food in C2

by JW - satellite phone Posted on February 2, 2013
This is how I found C2 deposit. Multivitamins tabs pushed away to get access to more interesting things. The destroyed plastic bag hanging out is a raisin bag. (You can see 2 raisins in the snow, he was surely disappointed by the taste because nothing was missing). UPDATE: after checking all my food this morning, I found out that the raisin bag was new and that the ibex took 300g. That’s a lot for a little ibex, he must have some digestion problems now xD Next time I will make some tests. Different kind of nuts and food sorted on a rock. I will send you the results =)

 

In C2 and feeling better
by JW - satellite phone Posted on February 1, 2013
Today I climbed to C2. It took me 4h (3h to climb to C1, and 1h to walk to C2). Knee to chest(!) deep snow on the way to C1. It was difficult with my 20kg bag, this can create some desperate situations. Hopefully it will not be like that higher because it’s a nightmare for a solo climber. I had to hurry up: I had no food, no stove, and almost no water. All the way I focused not to pee and keep my urine in case of to melt snow and dilute it a little bit before drinking it. The climb to C1 is some times too close for comfort and you can end up trapped. I never know how much time it will take. So yes, it was a stressful climb. Tomorrow’s forecast is not good and it’s going to snow a lot in the coming days. So I pushed and pushed in deep snow. After reaching C1, it was much more easy. I could also see ibex tracks parallel to my own tracks from C1 to C2. Guess who it was? =)
But I admit that I was a little worried. What if it was the other one, the dangerous big one. It’s not easy to recognise tracks in deep snow. But after multiple checks, I was convinced it was the funny and curious ibex. I love this funny and clever animal. The tracks were going straight to my camp site and the cashew deposit! Cashews are like a drug for him now. I was ready to find a devastated site after some ibex party and cashew orgy. What a good feeling to find the spot and my bags with almost no damage. Almost xD I can tell you that ibex don’t like raisins and dried apricots, they were laying on the snow, rejected. The ibex was surprisingly polite or cautious, and only explored one bag that already had a hole. I love camp 2, the view is so beautiful, and life here is good. My altitude tent is also much better than my old ABC tent. It’s not going to survive the end of the expedition. So I feel much better than yesterday. Was it the stress involved by the broken stove that made me quickly feel so sick? That night was memorable… Here I have plenty of gas and enough food, so n o stress factor. Now I wait and see. The forecasts on different websites are all announcing big snow falls. Let’s see how the layers bonds. The previous 10cm snow fall presents a good and solid bound for now. It was quite warm and it took 24h to get the 10cm amount: quality bound.

Crohn
by JW - satellite phone Posted on February 1, 2013
Some news, not good ones. Much more snow than expected yesterday. So I stayed in ABC. Then, the pump of my kerosene stove broke. I could barely fix it with my abalakov hook for few minutes, but it broke again every time. I can only get a weak yellow flame. All my gas canisters are in C2. It’s quite concerning. I can just melt snow and get cold water. Cooking is now very challenging. I also run out of dried food here in ABC, so almost all my remaining food requires hot boiling water. Yesterday night I tried to cook with cold water. What should happened happened. I was hopping it would take 1-2 days..but no. At 2 a.m. I was on toilets with ultra liquid diarrhoea, vomiting and bleeding from my nose. All at the same time. At least the sky was clear and I could watch stars in that bad moment. It continued all the night. The diarrhoea was so violent that I could not move in my sleeping bag. And it doesn’t improve despite the medicine. I was thinking and asking myself why my body is in a such a bad shape since the beginning, and why my intestines are so sensitive. The only rational explanation is that I have the Crohn syndrome. My little brother has the permanent syndrome, my father encountered the temporary syndrome. In the past, I also started losing blood from my intestines. I could only make a coloscopy 7 months later due to insurance problems. They found nothing. Maybe everything was healed again at that time. (Funny story: when I came to hospital for cutting flesh out of my leg and treat my gangrene in emergency, they also first told me that they may not do it because my insurance was blocked and not working. The surgeons finally helped me with success. But what a lame and desperate situation that was, so close to sceptia and you ear this… Don’t create a company in France, you are treated like a wild dog. They stopped my insurance because of an unpai d tax. The funny thing is that I was absolutely not concerned by this tax…) xD aaah, le RSI. People with money just say “see you on court” =) I say see you on summit. If I really suffer from Crohn and climb the Rupal face solo, what a pure sign of hope for all the people who fight and have to live with this. I’m going to smash my body against the steep slopes and destroy it in a giant last firework.

 

The steep Rupal face from Bazhin glacier
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 30, 2013
Nanga Parbat looks much bigger from the glacier than from C2. Or maybe it’s because I stayed many days in C2 checking the face, and I’m now used to this view. From ABC and C2, the south summit looks really close and quickly accessible. But it’s just an illusion.

 

 

Last shared moments
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 30, 2013
Having fun with my L.O. Fida (left) and his cousin on the ridge at the end of the Herrligkoffer area. I was feeling a little better but the sun on that day was making things difficult for me. Some jokes were good medicine at that point. Fida is always telling funny things. Like last time when we came back from a mountain that nobody climbs. A man was surprised to see us there, climbing down this mountain. He told him we where coming from Cashmere, which is behind this mountain. (But you need to do an almost impossible one week trek in winter, with difficult deep snow and high mountains). You should have seen the face of this man xD

 

 

Funny ibex
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 30, 2013
Some times I have a visitor coming and toying around. Two Days ago when reaching ABC, I found ibex tracks everywhere around the camp (no wolf tracks at that time). Of course my trash bags were somewhere else and again a cashew plastic bag was completely cleaned and licked xD I’m sure it’s the same ibex than on C1 few days ago. I think he likes the salt on the cashew bags. In France, I often climbed and snowboarded the Dent d’Oche. There is a pierre a sel (salt rock) that they loved. Ibex love salt, be warned for the safety of your food when you leave camp =) And then, I discovered that one of my technical socks disappeared. They were hanging on my tent for drying. I was sure it was the funny ibex, I could imagine him walking around proudly with my sock in his mouth.I followed the tracks, and with luck saw the sock in the snow 5 meters away. You can see the little piece that the ibex took in his mouth xD it’s my new favorite sock. Fida also told me this funny story. 10 year s ago, he was working with a Japanese team. They left their C1 and climbed to C2. When they came back, all the food they stored in C1 had been stolen. They found some animal tracks and followed them. After a long walk, they discovered all their food in a hole under a rock. They took all the food back xD Ibex are making of this mountain a place full of life.

 

I need to find another new nickname
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 30, 2013
Yesterday, I found this fresh one only 10m from my tent. It’s a much bigger one. The tracks are very fresh, I didn’t see them when I returned to ABC, so he came as I was in my tent. He’s not scared by humans. One morning I will wake up with a wolf sleeping at my side in my cozy sleeping bag.

Food
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 29, 2013
Trying to cook some old macaronis from a shop in Rupal. It took me 1h30 for 200g. The kerosene I use in ABC is very bad quality and nasty, and I often need to clean the stove. It just don’t burn well. Using it higher would be crazy. I could not find white gas here in Pakistan, which is way cleaner and simple to use. Yesterday when I came back to ABC, the stove and the pump were completely frozen from inside as I did not use it for many days. I only cook in ABC. When I’m higher, I just eat cashews and other kind of nuts, local dried apricots, dried raisins, and chocolate. That’s all. You can eat this in very cold conditions without having to warm it.I keep all my gas for melting snow. I don’t eat a lot but it’s enough.

Summer expedition
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 29, 2013
Sometimes you see this, the thermometer turning nuts in the sun. This was in C2 on avalanche day. Winter expedition? For now it’s a little deception. It reminds me more the days when I was beach lifeguard on the french riviera in hot summer. But I often listen to the merchandise train on summit and this gives me hope to find chaos and brutality up there. Walking in the sun is difficult for me. Yesterday I had a close call with heat stroke when trekking in deep snow to the end of Herrligkoffer BC area. Since I’m here, I have spend almost 50% of my time only wearing my Aklima woolmesh… I seriously hesitate to bring my down suit higher.. But this is too dangerous, it’s wiser to suffer a little more due to the weight and take it with me in case of. Everybody in Rupal, and Fida particularly, was a little amazed to see me walking only with a wool mesh and no gloves, as they were feeling very cold and wearing 4/5 layers. Seriously, it’s much too warm for me here and it makes everything difficult. I walk slowly to reduce dehydration. I already lost too much water due to my sickness. Next post with frostbite picture xD

Central pillar avalanche
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 29, 2013
Just one of the numerous avalanches on January 24. This picture is specially for Steve House and Vince Anderson. =) The avalanche came over their C3, C2, C1. Another one only minutes later started from the giant central serac at 6100m, and cleaned every meter of the central pillar route up to Herrligkoffer BC. If you want to climb this incredible route, you may wait 3 months and see no single avalanche free day. It’s one of the most dangerous route I’ve seen.

 

Wolves, episode 2: Getting closer
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 29, 2013
Do you recognize this? When crossing the glacier last day, I followed some animal tracks that I could not identify in deep snow. I just knew it was tall. Then, the animal took a passage close to a big rock, and I could find quality tracks. Later, I saw a collapsed snow bridge close to the tracks. I was ready to help this wolf if he was still inside the crevasse, but tracks were visible after this point so everything was fine for him.

 

Summary of the last days
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 29, 2013
Summary of the long previous post: my satellite phone’s charger broke due to the cold. I climbed down and walked to Rupal to get another one. Now I’m going to stay in ABC and wait for clear weather to make the gigapanorama picture. After this difficult task done, I will be able to climb in peace.

 

 

Previously, on Nanga Parbat
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 29, 2013
I was standing on a massive powder field, with a 50m wide circle cracking around me and ready to break. And I was absolutely not concerned by this. I was watching my feet lost in waist deep snow, and thinking. Thinking about my life and the kind of person I wanted to try to be. It all started on January the 24th. Avalanche day. The fresh 15cm snow on surface layer were ready the come down. I was a little nervous and impatient to climb, so my bag was standing in front of the tent ready for a hard climb despite the golden rule of no climbing 48H after any snowfall. Like 5mn before leaving, the avalanches series started. The beautiful morning turned into an insane spectacle. Every 60 seconds, a huge avalanche came down. C2 is perfect for watching everything in security. I could make great videos, but they are too heavy and it’s impossible for me to send them with my humble satellite phone. I’m going to publish them if I come back alive, you’re going to love this giant natural spectacle. Every square cm of the Rupal face got smashed by at least one or more avalanches. Special mention to the first couloir of the central pillar route. In less than 24H, 9 good sized avalanches rushed down, day and night. The night avalanche was so splendid, with a clear sky and bright moon. On that day, the first problems for charging my phone also appeared. Actually I was having troubles to charge the satellite phone already many days before. The cold broke a solder contact point and it was over. I tried all the night to fix it but it was too small to be repaired. I was now completely alone on Nanga Parbat. At that time I was quite fed up of the constant need of a cell phone, even far away from France. In France, if you can’t immediately answer to a text message coming from your girlfriend, you are pushed away before sunset. So I’m bored of the too much important role of cell phones in regular life, and live now without in France. That’s why the next day, 25 january, I left C2 and started to climb. Without any communication device, and my L.O. waiting for security messages. As I was climbing , I was thinking about the stress involved by the complete silence and lack of news. I’m on Nanga Parbat this time, a big and dangerous mountain. If my L.O. would call for rescue services with helicopters, my family would have to pay the expensive bill. And the insurance would maybe not reimburse it due to the fact that I was not equipped with any communication device. I did not care and continued to climb. But suddenly I realized that this was very selfish. And I just vomit selfish peoples that put other persons in trouble just to have fun or get closer to their quest. Handbrake. Then, an half hour of meditation about all this and my life. I was thinking of my family and turned back. It was not an easy choice. Before starting this expedition, I gave two chargers to my L.O., so the plan was to go down and walk to Rupal and take one charger. As this is a very simple, humble and light expedition, I don’t have any double equipment. Only one sleeping bag etc (just 2 stoves for security, which is too critical to save weight). So I made all the way down to ABC with almost 25 kg. It was so difficult and technical to bring everything up to C2, in the heat and as I was so sick… I was glad to be alone as I was descending, I was in a such a bad mood at this moment. The heavy bag and some very unstable sections gave some interesting results. Like on 4150m, the snow simply fall away and little Joel followed. I was so angry of having to go down due to a simple cable, instead of climbing. I made a self arrest in pure violence style. A full power hit with my technical ice axe on a slick hard rock… The marvelous ice axe did this incredible job without failure and stopped my fall by catching a micro crack. The blade is now slightly curved, it’s a nice souvenir which represents a difficult but wise decision. When I reached C1, it was surrounded by ibex tracks. A trash bag that I wanted to bring down was completely destroyed. Notice that ibex particularly appreciate cashews xD With C1 cleaned, I climbed down to ABC. I now really dislike this section. ABC was also full of tracks. The next day, I had to cross the Bazhin glacier with 80% of the crevasses fully hidden. I needed 3h to cross the 800m. I detected 15 hidden crevasses with my probe. You need a lot of patience and act like a robot for solo glacier crossing. A mistake because you want to progress faster and it’s over. I don’t recommend you to do this. But you may face this situation one day if you partner is dead or injured. Two options: slow without ropes and infinite probe checks, or fast with anchors+ropes+belay device. Ask a guide. The technique with only knots on the rope sliding behind you is not advised. On the other side of the glacier I surprisingly met Fida as I was coming out of a crevasse where my stick accidental fell. It was good to see him. We walked to his house in Rupal and I stayed as his guest for 2 days. Yesterday, january 28, I came back to ABC. The heat was horrible, I walked half naked. I’m going to wait for very clear weather to make the gigapanorama picture. When this will be done, I will be able to climb completely focused and relaxed because this picture is quite difficult to take. Thanks for reading and following this expedition =)

 

In Rupal
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 27, 2013
I’m in Rupal, and safe. More news soon. Bye

 

Winter animals
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 23, 2013
Hello nature lovers. Here are the winter animals present on Nanga Parbat so far. #1 crazy climbers xD #2 birds, black medium sized. They are numerous around C1 that I nicknamed Vogel Turm (to respect the german tradition on Nanga Parbat). By the way, C2 is also easily to be found with his big rock looking like a coquille saint jacques. C3 is the wolf cavern and I think I will bypass this camp, I don’t know why.. Bigger birds chasing are sometimes visible too. #3 the mega fat mouse near ABC. I tried to make a picture but she was too quick. So fat! Almost a rat. I nicknamed her Vielfrass =) in the first week here, I could hear her everyday as I was crossing her territory with my bags. I think ABC is now a destroyed cozy nest full of little Vielfrass playing with the chinese chicken powder that was so disgusting. #4 Ibex. Only the smell one night and the noises around ABC. #5 gloups… wolves. Only the sounds. One time in Tarishing, a second time in C1 on Nanga. Awesome moment. I always keep a picture camera with me in case of (and an ice axe because french food taste good)

 

Grivel, at my side on the Rupal face
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 23, 2013
Grivel. This is my main sponsor. Betta and the Grivel team gave me all the equipment that I needed. Very nicely and with remarkable support. I contacted them because I already had a lot of their equipment and because I like this brand. Their ice axes and crampons are amazing and light. And as a snowboarder I never go out without a speedy ice screw. Just wait to face a critical situation on steep ice with your feet strapped to a board… This gives you a good point of view of the important equipment parts you need. This is why I choose this brand: in dangerous situations you need to be confident with your equipment. All their nice support drives me and gives me motivation. I hope to represent the Grivel company as the best I can. They always supported incredible and talented climbers on difficult routes, hopefully I can bring them something positive with this climb. I also could test the Grivel master pro. This belay device is very useful and multitasking. I use it for solo rope leading, for abseil with big mittens by using the extra friction mod, and for solo glacier crossing. (CAUTION: You should not do solo glacier crossing without total knowledge of what you are doing and without mastering all the traditional crevasse rescue techniques and self rescue techniques. Also refuse to walk on a glacier roped to a partner that have no idea how to bring you out of a crevasse fall. Just act very professional, and follow security protocols). The Grivel daisy chains are a must for placing strong anchors quickly without removing your mittens. You can equalize your anchor very easily and quickly. Just try to do and undo a frozen knot with your mittens or gloves in stressful situations. With their daisy chain, this is done in a few seconds. This is also one of the reasons why they are my sponsor. You can see some of their tools on my rack picture, the daisy chains around my chest for an easy and simple access.

Clothing
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 23, 2013
Clothing. This is what I wear. (NONE OF THESE BRANDS ARE MY SPONSORS AND I HAD TO PAY FOR EVERYTHING). #1 base layer: Aklima wool mesh. Pants and long sleeve t-shirt. Very warm, dries quickly and keep the skin protected from freezing. It’s the wool version, so no kind of smell. I love it and wear it every day. You can use the lighter synthetic model if you only wear it 1 or 2 days. #1′ additional base layers (not used yet, too warm): RAB me co pants and t-shirts #2 First layer: RAB vapor rise. Pants and jacket. This is for now my maximum layer, in -20 degrees Celsius. So it’s very warm, and also light. It dries quickly too. #3 Second layer: RAB vapor rise. I do like Garry Rolfe and wear them in layers. The 2nd one is one size larger to fit well. I have a guide jacket that is even warmer than the other model. I also layer the pants. The Guide jacket is just the reference. Choose it with closed eyes. #4 Third layer (not used yet, too warm): RAB micro light down jacket. One size larger, over the vapor rise layers (or between them if it’s windy). #5 Forth layer (not used yet, way too warm): RAB expedition suit #6 Fifth layer (not used yet): RAB expedition wind suit. A lot of RAB equipment as you can see. I choose this brand because their new sleeping bag is awesome, the brand is quite serious and experienced, and I could get a good price. This brand is accessible for a large public with affordable prices. Thanks to Mark and all the beyond extreme team for supplying me quickly and with great support. I would like to make a field test of the expedition wind suit =) maybe in the coming days. For my hands, feet, and face layers, you will have to wait for colder days.

Temperature vs satellite phone
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 23, 2013
As I have to wait, I can continue to update the website. Today I could finally send you the previous picture after a 4h fight with my satellite phone. The battery did not charge due to wires contact problems, and the phone sometimes turned nuts. Yes you’ve got to be patient to handle this. Power management becomes a little serious now. It’s becoming difficult for electronic devices with the cold. For the previous night picture, I tried to send a higher quality version, standing 50 minutes without moving and the phone in my hand to keep the battery warm. Like 5 minutes before completion, the screen crashed. So that’s why I only send you medium quality images that need 10 minutes to transfer. A satellite phone running on AA lithium batteries would be great and safer. But it’s not so cold. -12 to -15 degrees Celsius the day. And -20 at night here in C2 at 4300m. Previous week in ABC at 3825m the temperature once reached +25 degrees when the sun was hitting the thermometer. I had a mega sunburn on my nose xD For now, I find this place really warm and only wear summer clothes. You can find brutal cold in the K2 and Broad Peak area. Hopefully you don’t suffer from cold at home reading these lines. Having to live with your family in the cold due to financial restrictions is something very hard. You don’t need to travel far away to experiment this. I think of people suffering at home, from the cold but even more from their financial desperate situation; people who are working a lot but don’t have enough money to pay for a decent warmth. This gives me great motivation and gives me plenty mental protection to fight the elements. Be sure that I will be thinking of you. Take care and stay positive, face the cold and wait for better days. With love from Nanga Parbat.

 

Nice meteo forecast
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 23, 2013
That was a very optimistic meteo forecast for today xD It started to snow at 23h and didn’t stop since. I wait. And I will check different meteo sources in the next days. I created a special meteo web page with the minimum ko amount for low data costs. Maybe I removed too many data =) I consulted another meteo website and the forecast is correct. Actually I have to traverse a purge gully that drain snow from a 1500 meters height, starting from the seracs area. So always releasing fresh snow, the seracs accelerate this process. A minimum of 48H are needed to let the whole gully clean itself.

 

Concentration before the start
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 22, 2013
Hello. It’s Tuesday 22 January, and it’s probably one of my last posts. Tomorrow I should start a brutal climb. There’s a kind of security line that you can imagine here in C2. When you leave C2 you cross this line and you enter the savage world. It’s been fun to send you pictures and news all these days. I hope you enjoyed the pictures and stories. Thanks to explorersweb.com for following me, I love this website. I did not contact anybody before my expedition. Just explorersweb so that mountain lovers and climbers could watch the winter conditions on the Rupal face. (Someone told me that Raheel Adnan is also following me very nicely, so thanks for the nice words). I just climb to try to heal my spirit’s wounds, and for nothing else. When I look to the mountain, I don’t look to the summit and the way to get there. I just try to find a safe but brutal and technical way so that this experience will bring me peace. And I can only find this a few steps from death. Too many painful moments; love can be very destructive. I choose to transform all this pain and violent darkness into something positive and beautiful. I’m glad to lay here, on Nanga Parbat, and still be alive to try to make something difficult and magical. My mind is totally ready, like if I closed my eyes and let me fall in complete trust and faith. Whatever I will find, this will be nice and positive to my soul. I never reached this level of engagement before. The only problem is that my body is still weak and fragile. I need to take care of it, like when you walk slowly with a child. I know that in the coming hours, my mind is going to see my body sink and fade away. Can I stop and come back before my body gives up? My mind is like a virus that survived everything and that nothing can stop now. Luckily my body is the anti-virus and keeps this wild thing under control xD So if everything is OK tomorrow, I should climb to 5000m and check the route conditions over the falling glacier. I can’t see a 1000m section from here, and it’s a little technical and exposed. So a first check, and if the dangers are acceptable, I continue. Then straight to the top of the giant serac at 6200m. Maybe 2 camps to reach that spot. After this, left like Steve and Vince, or right (I can’t see this part from here). If I feel really good, I may try the wall… You can see my light rack on the picture, and my bag (approx.15kg). The glacier may spit it out in many years =) nothing valuable inside. I only bring a 55m static 5mm rope for abseil, for some possible solo rope leading technique, and for glacier progression. I left my 50m ice line 8mm here to go light. The G20 mono-point crampons are out as you can see. Time for action.

Nanga Parbat – The Rupal wall at night
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 22, 2013
Tonight, the sky was pretty nice and clear, allowing me to make some nice pictures. Here one of these pictures, so that you can share a little moment of one of my cold nights. The Rupal wall at night, one of the most difficult wall to climb in the world. Have a good night. Joël Wischnewski

Quick news about my health
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 20, 2013
53 bpm this morning at 4300m. 6 breath/min. It was very hot today. Too hot for me. I prefer when it’s cloudy, otherwise I’m losing too much water. And I’m already having troubles because of dehydration due to my sickness. I take a lot of amino acids and vitamins to try to recover. But this is a long process. All my bags are in C2. I had to divide the 25kg weight of the last bag, because my former dorsal back muscle injury showed some warning signals. This morning was avalanche day. For example: 3 big ones in 2 hours just for the first couloir of the central pillar route. I also listened to a bird running and flying down a couloir in horror screams to escape an avalanche (successfully). Slowly my body may recover and allow me to try some high altitude gain. I’m patient. But if I start to lose blood from my intestine, this may cause a serious stop. I don’t want to climb an 8000m under antibiotics. This would be crazy. I hope that everybody reading these lines is in good health, and that you have someone to care about you if you are in troubles.

Top section of the seracs area
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 20, 2013
Mouais… This is from today. It’s the top section of the seracs area on the S-E pillar. I would not take a walk with grigri and my beagle on this part of the mountain. All along the east face ridge are also some kind of snow powder pinnacles created by the wind. Doesn’t look friendly. My initial straight route is looking much better today. But I ask myself everyday how could Tomasz Humar find a way with all these crevasses.. And solo, without any ropes. It’s so risky. I don’t know if he was super pro or if he simply didn’t care and rushed. Tomasz is quite famous in Tarishing and everybody knows him. They were all sad when they learned his death. They all talked me about him. Too many slim snow bridges on this part of the route, that he also took. If I go there, my ropes will be out for sure. And I will use some nasty solo glacier crossing techniques.

Dry section of the central pillar, 7100m
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 20, 2013
The central pillar route. This section is always dry. Right now, the safest route is this one…
when you know the level asked to climb this route.. Steve and Vince are just climbing machines. And Steve’s story is so nice to read. I wish him to recover fully from his back injury and continue to inspire people, with or without climbing. If I take this route, I hope that I can do it with style and with respect to these great climbers.

The magical Rupal face
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 20, 2013
I love this picture. I was enjoying a tea when the mountain started a beautiful show with magical colors changes.

C2 – 4300m
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 20, 2013
Some pictures so you can see C2. I like this place. A lot of serac and glacier noises too, creating a constant natural music full of life.

Wolves on Nanga Parbat
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 19, 2013
Saturday 19 january. 0H25. I wake up suddenly. Maybe I’m too warm. I refresh my body and try to sleep again. Only 2 minutes after, a strange noise starts to bip. I stop moving and breathing, and listen. Still this curious bip. And it comes from outside. What is this? I don’t have the time to think about, that a well know noise start. A wolf group calling the rest of the pack! And it’s so close. It’s on Nanga Parbat. Less than 2km away, from N-E. I directly think about the cavern that I planned for C3. It’s coming right from that direction… I remember a german shepherd dog in the village where I grew up. He was barking like a wolf every time the church’s bells celebrated something at night. He was only 500m away and did it so often, it’s deep in my memory. But this wolf pack sounded much closer than 500m. The wolves are for sure bigger and stronger and with more powerful vocals, so the distance may have been greater. But what?! Wolves on Nanga Parbat! How do they cross the glacier? I’m more careful than ever and sleep with my ice axe. I’m going to inspect the cavern with my big focal length and check for tracks or dejection marks. This mountain is just unbelievable. Maybe the sounds were reflected by surrounding mountains, but I’m still sure that they were on Nanga. The bip sound was probably a lost puppy or an injured animal. It’s not already difficult enough, you need to add some more dangers. It’s another hard factor to handle for a solo expedition. I will try to make a picture if I see them and post it. The Polish team probably noticed it too. I could then sleep like a baby. There could be a T-REX, I would be still climbing here. Today I moved to C2, 4300m. The weather is disgusting. A lot of fog, sometimes you can’t see 10m away. And it’s the 3rd consecutive day of snow. It’s snowing nonstop, days and nights. But I don’t wait clear weather to move. The Russian team on K2 last winter did not see the mountain for 3 weeks. 1 bag with gas and food is still in C1. All the rest is here with me. The 25 kg bag was so difficult to move here. every grams are increasing the pain. I finished as I could. C2 is much better positioned. I can observe the whole face from the tent with good theoretical protection. I can also catch a good satellite connection inside of the tent. In C1, I had to go outside, search a signal for minutes, and wait hours in the cold. Now I can do everything from inside my sleeping bag. I’m going to stay here a while as I need to see how all this snow will interact with the other layers. What an adventure if the wolves kill me, or if I need evacuation because of wolf bites.

Last bag in C1
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 18, 2013
Friday 18 january. 2nd consecutive bad weather day. I tested the snow layers. It was ok. I decide to move despite the ugly weather. My last bag is now in C1. Tomorrow I can finally move to C2. I'm so weak because of the sickness. At home, it would only be possible to take some steps to in to toilets and in back sleeping. And here, I'm climbing Nanga Parbat. Boua. Sometimes I close my eyes when I'm climbing and have to fully and only concentrate on my intestines. This is bad. There is such a different level now between my mind and my body. My mind just smash my body like an old doll against the mountain slopes. I took a 4h nap when I came back to the tent. I was almost crawling at the end. I should feel better tomorrow.

 

C2 spot 4300m
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 18, 2013
C2 spot. Good protection, good view, better orientation for satellite connection. With 4300m it’s not very higher than C1, but I still need to move 3 full and heavy bags. So I prefer to take it easy. The next vertical 1000m from C1 are much more easy than the first 300m of the route from ABC to C1.

 

C3 spot
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 18, 2013
C3 cavern. Maybe already full and occupied by ibex or other animals. Or a Dosai bear? =)

Route view
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 18, 2013
C2 is just over the little gully on the bottom right of the picture at 4300m. And C3 will be in the middle right of the picture. My initial route: straight in the middle to the big serac. My probable new route: on the right. Easy up to 5200m, then avoid the steep cascade that is always releasing purges. Climb the ice field on the right. Survive. Before the last serac, traverse to the left. (You don’t see it on the picture after this). Climb a ridge, go left and re-descend to 7500m. The rest is in my mind. I know it’s lame, but it’s winter and you have to improvise. I’m glad you can’t see more of my initial route. It’s just crazy, and many of you would not understand why a climber would try something like this. This expedition is about climbing, not walking.

A nice last sunset before ugly weather
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 18, 2013
Sunset view in C1

Rest day, strong wind
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 17, 2013
17 january. The merchandise train is back today. All the night, snow was falling. All the morning too. It’s -10c at night at 4150m, warmer than in France. But the result was predictable: powder layer with bad coherence with The rest of the snow layers. Red flag. So I stayed in my tent up noon. I tried to in out (45 minutes preparation) to check the route and try to connect with my satellite phone. C1 is great but I can’t connect to the satellite from here. After 2 minutes outside, I already had snow everywhere. I came back inside and took a nap. End of the day. Very effective day.

Route options
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 17, 2013
I’m still doubting which route I should take. My initial route is just a death trap right now but was perfect for my acclimatization. The far away looking Messner route is probably too dry at a higher elevation. I can only see up to 6000m. The central pillar: hmm. Looks painful. I’m not sure of the ice quality. It looks very thin from here. The east face is just a big amount of powder waiting for someone to free it for a grandiose avalanche spectacle. One last option, but very tough and risky: the S-E pillar. I tried to count the number of giant seracs, I gave up. To many of them, and there’s always another one coming out of the clouds. So you can imagine the number of purges every day. But actually it’s interesting because it offers a clean and stable surface very quickly after snow falls. I’m like at the restaurant, with this big menu in front of me. It’s difficult to choose. I think I’m going to try the S-E pillar’s ridge with the east face and come back to my initial route at 7500m. But I would prefer to stay away from the ridge as this can be dangerous in winter with the venturi effect. With the Rupal wall flying away, I also had to change my equipment. Now, I’m more into an ultra light approach as all the other routes are much more “easy” than the wall. Acceptable is a better word than easy. I would puke from effort on all of these routes. My temporary plan is to reach 5500m, stay there long enough (1 week should be good), and make a blitz climb to 7500m. Then, depending on my health: summit push and back to 5500m quickly, or simply back to save my life. I’m not sure if I can learn all the sections of the S-E pillar and memorize them. It’s a lot, and if I have memory troubles, it’s going to create stressful situations because it’s the Rupal face and not any mountain. Blitz = no snowboard. It’s sad, but I’m just a weak human. This face is too much for a solo climb in winter. I’m going to try what I can and my body will be destroyed for sure. At which altitude, I don’t know. At least if I come back alive, you will have numerous pictures to prepare a winter climb on this face.

Soon to C2, and higher
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 15, 2013
Short news. Yesterday tuesday 15 january, I climbed to 4500m to explore a new route. C2 will be at 4300m. A nice and secure spot. Slow elevation gain as I have a lot of gear and food to bring up. This will lighten as the distance to the summit reduces. The new route is slightly safer (death rate always very high, it’s the Rupal face you know), but I keep an eye to find a possible access to the wall. I will send pictures so that you can see everything.

 

Nothing is safe. Changing route
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 15, 2013
Pff. Nothing is safe. All couloirs are also nonstop purging. Snow cascades everywhere. My route is russian roulette from 4600m to 6000m. It’s not very pro to climb in this. Winter makes it so different, and there are not many high quality pictures of the winter routes on this face. The central pillar route is under constant purge. The safest option is to make a traverse and cross the steep and crevassed glacier and reach the Merkel ice field. My G20 mono points crampons and my light ice axes are made for this ice field. But I don’t see the rest of the Messner route from here and the upper part looks very dry. The 2nd “safe” option would be the east part of the S-E pillar. But it’s still only powder on rocks. Maybe if a storm hits the face.. I think I prefer this option, as I have a good view of it up to 7000m. To make it short, on the last picture of the Rupal face, I may go to the left or to the right.

 

 

Little advices for climbers
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 14, 2013
If you plan to climb the Rupal face, be sure to get prepared to the altitude numbers and try to take a route that is easy at the beginning to gain altitude quickly. It is very disturbing to have to climb technical and exhausting sections at 4000m only, and to think that you have 4000 more meters to climb that are even more difficult. As a summary of my first week and humble advice, find a fast and easy start so that you don’t get affected by the altitude numbers. (Don’t skip acclimatization). But if you are going to climb here, I think you don’t need any advices =) maybe just this fact: 80% of the avalanches occurred at night (and the rest between 11am and 1pm) since I’m here, in january. In winter, water sources are still liquid on base camps so you can bring less kerosene. Fida told me that a japanese woman who was alone was killed at Herrligkoffer bc, and that an eastern european, solo also, was found dead too. He was very worried about this, you should not stay at Herrligkoffer alone. But it’s a nice place. For your flight, come in Islamabad a monday or early in the week, in case you may face some delays. After your arrival, go directly to Askari Aviation which is close to the airport. Pay them by wire transfer before you leave your country. Some people also pay them with travelers checks. Don’t count on your embassy for accepting the caution guarantee. Send all your cargo by road. If you take the plane to Gilgit or Skardu, don’t give PIA any luggage. Rush to the mountain to reduce the risk of getting sick with local bacterias. Otherwise, you will end up like me xD hopefully this can help someone to prepare his expedition.

 

Taking care of my soul
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 14, 2013
Hi worldwide mountain freaks and family. This article is about my soul and my sickness. If you only want to read action stuff, skip this one =) It’s monday 14 january, 19h. Hopefully all the pictures are on the website. It took me like 4h to send them because my phone was not stable, and I had to resend everything again and again. I know everybody prefers pictures, so I try to send interesting ones as much I can. Let me tell you the truth about last night. I was sooo sick! I can’t remember if I was awake all the night or in some kind of trance. Actually, it’s not easy to tell it, but I was sure that a Chinese Liaison Officer was sitting at my right side and watching me all the night without a word. And to me it was so real! Gosh. And every time I tried to move, he shacked his head negatively and I always returned to my position. And when I turned despite his advice or order, a brutal diarrhea rushed every time and it was terror like waking up after a surgery and I needed to run outside in the cold. … Damned, that’s what I call being sick! So today was not easy to handle psychologically. I was careful with patient Joel. (Oh yes, that’s my name). It does not appears anywhere on the website. Why? Because I don’t care. Last week, a porter was talking with me about the different routes and places with names. I showed him my route and he asked what my name was. I just told him that it was not important, and that only the style and engagement were counting. He very appreciated that answer. Local people were all nice with me, either I had nothing to offer. So the day started with a guy in a tent looking for his Chinese LO. I was feeling so pity full and miserable. I moved with radar to a place to shoot pictures as the view was still clear. Saw an avalanche breaking all my plans. Tried to be positive and find other solutions, but the Rupal face is nothing for sick persons. I took some lunch and decided to try to move my 30kg bag to C1. Surprisingly, I was in better shape at that time. It’s my training bag in France, and I walked a lot with it and my old dying dog. To see this sentimental bag linked to my dog, here, on Nanga Parbat’s slopes, gave me probably some mental energy. My family tells me that my dog is going better, but that’s probably to protect my soul. The days before my departure, my dog could not eat and was in total pain. I had to keep her in my arms as she was trying to pee, or she would simply fall down and lay there. I saw my family taking care of her in her probably last moments so it was easier to leave. Many people don’t understand the link between an animal and a human. So many adventures together, complicity and pain shared. A lot of pain shared, yes. I could not let my body sink down more, and this heavy emotional bag put me back on the good way. 30kg is something at 4000m on steep rocks. An overhanging passage took a lot of concentration. Insane climb. I tried to make a picture after successfully toping the section, but it was still too close for comfort. For the last steep section, I took my very handy ultra light Grivel bag that I love, to reduce the total weight and climbed the last section twice. As I was approaching C1, I had a clear view up to 6000m. I rushed to see more of it. 3 other routes options are interesting and possible. This gave me mental resources and I could finish the day positively.

 

Sick again, avalanches, bad bivi spots
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 14, 2013
Today is a half sunny day. But as every sunny day here, you can only see the wall up to 10 a.m. After that, only clouds over 5500m. I could observe the face and take plenty pictures. I have some troubles finding quality bivi spots from 3200m to 6300m. This is concerning. Yesterday night, the power of the avalanche over me make me take this task seriously. Also, this morning as I was shooting pictures for 1 minute only, a quite big avalanche started and took her ride. I could watch all my possible bivi options being smashed one after the other… None of them is secure. From C1, the glaciers on left and right are now both at 50% covered by avalanche rests… On the Bazhin glacier, which is 750m wide where I crossed it, there is the mark of a wide 1km avalanche end zone. Just for one. You watch this from altitude and it looks so clear. Pure danger these last days. It’s exactly the same under the Rupal face. I saw a cavern at 5000m but far away of my route, almost on the east face. I may try to go there in the coming days. It’s very difficult to find a way to reach the 6300m key spot. The Merkl ice field is like a secure highway, I could see it briefly. Maybe if the conditions are not acceptable to climb with a little security margin, I may move and try another route. 1.East face: probably not. 2.Central pillar : maybe, Steve and Vince climbed a long distance the first day, it’s maybe too long to do it solo in an avalanche couloir full of powder. To dangerous right now. 3.The Messner route is probably the safest now. 4.The Schell route: I don’t want to disturb the other team. I had a very bad night, and could only sleep well 2h. I was sick all night again, and had to run out 3-4 times because of a terrible diarrhea. It’s probably still the same virus or bacteria. I’m careful with water, I let it boil each time and don’t drink the melted snow without adding minerals. But everyday I’m sick and it’s very tough for my spirit because I’m completely alone here and cannot count on someone else. Solo climbing in the Himalayas.

Rupal face from C1
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 14, 2013
The close view of the Rupal face. The point of view is only a few meters from C1.

View from C1
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 14, 2013
The view from C1. The Herrligkoffer BC site on the left, the Bazhin glacier, and the beginning of Latobo BC on the right. Beautiful.

Camp 1
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 14, 2013
My well protected C1. Protection tested successfully last night…

Advanced Base Camp
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 14, 2013
Just a picture to show you ABC, 3825m

I first told me it was the wind – part 2
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 13, 2013
10 minutes after my arrival at C1, I was enjoying the close coming meeting with a warm tea. I was in my tent as a noise started, very sudden and loud. ”The wind is strong here, I have to get used to” …yes yes little boy. 40 seconds later, the ‘wind’ is still blowing, and increasingly. ”And now it starts to snow” and I close the door of my tent. And then a doubt. The doubt. Too late. The roof of the tent starts to dance, the walls make huge transformations. The noise is now just pure brutality. Everything inside the tent bounce, the ground is shaking heavily. I try to look where my clothes are but know it’s too late to do anything. I plunge and lay flat, with my body making a cross to maximize floating surface and trying to hold the corners of my tent. And I wait for the death impact.. The mega avalanche just came over me. Incredible. It’s like an earthquake and a giant wave together, huge ones. The bivi spot is very well protected by the rock tower. It’s safe and strong. When I saw this spot, I had something like this in my mind. But I had no idea of the brutality of a monster avalanche. And then I saw myself, still climbing slowly with the heavy backpack… Strange feeling. The meeting with the tea was cancelled, surviving an avalanche like that is an intense experience. I can’t stop imagining me looking down and see that guy that is looking like me, walking slowly with his backpack. And his face just watching this monster rushing toward him. Close call. Life is so depending on parameters, and you can’t control them all. I made like 5% of the climb, and already so many dangers. What will I find higher? … What will I find higher?

I first told me it was the wind
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 13, 2013
I first told me it was the wind… Sunday 13 january. 5 hours of sleep, too much thinking up to 2 a.m. I am used to winter camp life now. First of all, the day started with a good tea. So good. All other beverages I tried are just disgusting. So 2 liters of tea later (you can’t do things without doing them fully xD), PASTA E THONNO. What a luxury meal today. Then, I walked a little to be able to write to Fida and to my family (at ABC, the cliff creates satellite connections concerns, so you need to move). The weather was better, like my body shape (61 bpm and 8 breath taking per minute at rest). I stayed half naked all the morning because it was so hot. It was already afternoon when I left ABC. Melting snow with kerosene just needs a lot of time. And you need to drink 5 to 7 liters per day to avoid altitude inducted physiological changes that may kill you quickly without enough water. In France, you press one button and your litter of tea is ready. My temporary big belly and I moved to my bags deposit. I took one light bag and climbed to C1. Rocks are loose here, and at one time a 50kg block fall on me. To reduce severe damage, I made a 3m jump. It was risky because the rock slope was at 50 degrees, but with a powder section not to far that I quickly choose as target. And as I was flying, rolled my arm and made a kind of barrel to imitate the falling line of the rock and to make a smooth impact on my body. I found my precious ice axes deep in the snow, following my leashes. Yes I’m bored of these difficult climbs at only 4000m, but it was my choice to do it the hard way. I was thinking that for others 8000m mountains, this is just the altitude out of the plane. Then you go to base camp at 5000m, and ABC at over 6000m sometimes. Nanga Parbat is really special and hard to climb. (To climb, not to walk). So I was laying in the snow, thinking of that. Pumped up, made it to C1. Climbed down and took a 30kg bag. It was 17h. I had my headlamp this time and wanted to give a try to night climbing. My training in France was perfect and very similar to these conditions. The snow was slightly harder, but not that much. Despite my previous traces, the deep snow made it very difficult. 5cm gain for each footstep. Sometime sliding back and unable to progress. 1 hour to climb 50m. And it was the easy part. I found a deep dry hole with good protection, and put my bag inside. My fingers in my frozen gloves started to show stade 1 frostbite signals. this made me fast and furious! Frostbite = game over. I climbed like a crazy guy running over the rocks and this made my fingers feel warmer. I finished the climb and arrived at 19h. And then…oh dear…Nanga Parbat…

Camp 1 – 4150m
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 12, 2013
You may think this expedition is almost over and that I will leave by evacuation. One foot in the grave, the other on a banana skin (it’s a sentence from a famous french writer. His style was amazing). You have no idea what kind of wild dog I am. I experienced so bad moments in my life, so this is just pure entertainment to me. Last night, I went to bed at 18h. It’s strange enough to be noticed xD Actually the days are based on sunlight here. My eyes were still burning and I could feel my heart beats in my fever warm belly as my sleeping bag protected off from the night. It’s saturday morning, 12 january. I wake up as my tent is already full of sun. Grey sunlight. It’s my first complete night and 12 rest hours. Usually I wake up at 2 a.m. because of mountain animals around me, or big avalanche sounds, or snow blocks falling on my tent. I feel better but the weather just looks terrific trough the tent. Suddenly the tent becomes black, a loud sound coming closer. I roll on the side of the tent that is close to the cliff. And boom, a big snow block hits the roof of the tent. Nice wake alarm, works very well. My heart bpm are back to 70 despite this. I open the door, only clouds everywhere and 5cm fresh snow. Yesterday, Nanga Parbat was a little discrete girl. Today it’s a wild and savage naughty girl =) the summit automatically looks like 10.000m higher. And the sound of an infinite merchandise train that doesn’t stop. All the morning. It must be very brutal on the summit with conditions like that. I take breakfast, rice with olive oil of course. Delicious. Today my plan is to bring the rest of my equipment a little higher, and if I feel good to continue to my deposit and check the route. I climb fast, come back to camp to eat and drink, and bring the last bag higher too. With my snowboard on it <3 I feel much better than yesterday so I continue to climb. Weather is still ugly. The snow is good now and much more secure. But I know that ridges and areas without protection may be dangerous because of wind plates. (Sorry I don't know the english word for 'plaque a vent'). Again I have to make some stressful moves because of the steep rocks with powder on them. At one section I have to make a dry-tooling move. So now I tried all possible ways, free climbed them all, and none of them is easy. I'm a little bored to have to make these challenging climbs at only 4000m, after only 100m since camp. (Next time, I'm going to use the micro traction and haul my bags up to reduce exposure). Then, I reach my deposit. It's nice to see that everything is still here and not swept away by an avalanche. I take my bag and climb higher to find a bivi spot. Two wind plates make the progression slowly as I carefully avoid them. I reach the top of the mountain that is in front of the Rupal face. The view from there is great. I take some pictures, imagine Steve House and Vince Anderson climbing the central pillar, and hurry up because it's already late. I see a night descend coming soon, again. On the top of this mountain is a cool flat spot with good avalanche protection from the Rupal face. My altitude tent is just the good size. I try to place as many anchors protections as possible, and I plunge into the descend. The ridge is as expected and a wind plate makes it tricky. I forgot to mention that it was exactly the same time when I started the descend than last time when I came that high. So 10 minutes of light. I can imagine people shaking their heads and thinking what a fool. Nothing is simple in winter and you have to fight for each meter. Maybe I'm also used to the dangers of this route now, and I take them into account but still think that there is some margin remaining. Maybe one day I'm going to climb at night. I'm worried about the powder snow all over the steep rocks, the iron melted smell of my red hot ice axes that shows me that troubles are close, and the exhaustion of having to hit or insert 4-5 times my blades to find a good hold. At night, the cold transforms this into hard snow or ice, and it's kinder garden climbing. But there is no room for error. I will see. So I came back to camp, needed 1h30 to melt snow and cook simple rice with some chicken powder. This was an horrible meal, it should be forbidden. And it's an hungry Himalayan climber who says that. I had to eat with closed eyes. Boua. Hopefully your food is better than here :)

The taste of death
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 11, 2013
Thanks again PIA for making me feel so miserable. I walk at camp like a zombie. I tried to bring my climbing equipment bag a little higher. It weights 20kg because the Rupal wall is challenging and you need a lot of tools. I could only reach something like 70m elevation gain. Every time I try to drink I need to resist not to vomit the water back. It’s the same for food. Having to wait so much time for my missing bag to arrive was too much stress involving because I have put all my little economy and money in this expedition. And the more you wait, the more your body gets exposed to foreign bacteria. The massive diarrhea and the stress take every drop of energy out of you. PIA handled my case like if I was a rich tourist that could make shopping in Gilgit. For a 8000m solo in winter you need to be in the shape of your life. This kind of delays are just not allowed. What if an athlete would go to the Olympic games and his bag with his equipment does not arrive, and the flight company just tells him to wait but they don’t know how much time? So here I am, coming down to camp, watching my feet with open mouth and moving like a robot. A 100 years old man would look fitter. It’s going to take weeks to fully recover. Why can’t it be simple? I survey if I don’t lose blood from my intestines. As I don’t feel good, I make mistakes. I cut my chin on a sharp rock. So camp is covered by vomit and blood. Welcome to Nanga Parbat.

First climb on Nanga Parbat
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 11, 2013
I had problems with my phone. So here the latest news. The 8 january my bag arrived in Tarishing. It was a long day of waiting, as every day here. I think too much milk tea that day, and the problems started. We made the short trek to Rupal and arrived on sunset. We stayed at Fida’s house. I had severe abdominal pains that night and it was painful all the night. The 9 january we made the trek from Rupal to my ABC. As I was sick, this little and gentle trek turned into a painful moment. When we reached the glacier, the porters started to walk without any protection so we stopped them. I was preparing Fida with crevasse rescue equipment, then I quickly checked were the posters went… They were in the middle of the glacier with no ropes, walking 50cm behind each other with 20kg heavy backpacks, and taking a break in group. So dangerous, so much pressure on the fragile snow bridges. They must be thinking glacier crossing in winter is the same than in summer. This was just insane and stressful to watch. I was completely sick at that time and this was a little stressful. I don’t like to do stuff like that, without any security and knowledge. My german side deep inside of me likes to make things fully, and with a professional approach. This was so crazy. We reached the other side without problems.. We made a platform for my tent, very close to the rock wall so that avalanches would fly over me. We shared a last salt tea, and the porters went back. The last thing Fida told me was to use my ice axe if mountain animals try to attack me xD the expedition really started at that time. The first night was not so pleasant. Avalanches everywhere, small snow blocks hitting my tent and animal noises. My ABC is in fact already exposed. The altitude: 3825m, 4300m to climb. The next day, 10 january, I climbed to 4100m to find a bivi spot that I previously saw with my big lense. The snow was knee deep, then waist deep. It took hours to reach the spot. The avalanche risk was very high so I had to climb a mixte route on the side. Stressful. 75 degrees rock with powder snow. All what climbers love.. Only the first meters of my 4300m route, and already very technical and challenging for the nerves. I understand well why Steve House had to puke at 6200m after leading a long way. I reached the bivi spot area at 17h30…exhausted, with no head lamp, only light clothes and a wet thin pair of gloves. Boua.. I left my bag with the tent on a ridge, made a small protection by cutting the laminate snow layer around my bag, and rushed down. I remembered the words of Simone Moro telling that climbing at night on an 8000m peak in winter was just pure suicide. As I started my descend, the sky was dark, with the first stars shining. No ropes, nothing, avalanches just asking to break. And 75 degrees rock slopes to down climb. Bad moment. I purged a couloir and found a passage that looked possible to down climb. I was holding my ice axes like captain Hadock holding his last drinking bottle. My grivel quantum axes found their way and saved me. What a pressure drop when I reached a manageable snow slope. It’s always interesting to experiment moments like that. Like 1 year ago when the surgeon took care of my gangrene, and I could observe my family laughing and smiling again. I purged the slope and jumped into it =) I do this a lot in France. Sometimes also with my dog slipping behind me or my former girlfriend trying to ride my trace and catch me. It was a good moment. I took a picture with my light and old little compact camera. The batteries completely flat and empty only allowing me 1 shoot, and the shutter only half opened. I love this picture even if the quality is horrible, it reminds me this good moment. I made all the rest of the descend on my left butt with strong ice axe stops. Like Troillet and Lorethan on the Hornbein and Japanese couloir on Everest’s north face almost 25 years ago. I reached ABC at 18h30. Empty. Then, I saw my thermos bottle with disgusting wood fire melted snow. The taste of that water is horrible. And then a long and difficult night started. I vomited all the evening, 5 times. Every time I saw the bottle, I had to puke. (Like one day when I went to climb the Dents Blanches, the Tete de Bosetan was fully covered by mutton dejections and this made me so sick). I had fever all the night and could not eat or drink anything. An animal stayed all the night around my tent and I could barely make moves due to my illness to protect my food. This morning, 11 january, I still feel weak. I take a rest day. It must be a virus or a bacteria that I contracted my last day in Tarishing. My pulse rate this morning was 20 pulses higher than yesterday at same moment of the day and same elevation. (50 bpm at 300m in France, 60bpm in Gilgit at 1600m, 70bpm yesterday and 90bpm this morning at 3825m). But it’s getting better. No signs of altitude sickness so far. I just wait to feel better to climb again.

Last waiting hours in Tarishing
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 8, 2013
Yesterday 7 jan. Fida and I climbed a 3500m local peak. He told me that no foreigners came here before, and really enjoyed to share a nice climb with someone on an unknown peak that is right in front of his home. Nanga Parbat is more dry than ever. I could again make great pictures in the sunny morning. Today 8 jan. my bag should arrive and we should move to Rupal on sunset. Tomorrow I move to ABC. Fida recommended me to use a barrel for food protection, because many mountain animals are present. Last night I could hear wolves all around Tarishing. It was unreal and beautiful, with a dark sky full of stars.

ABC spot
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 8, 2013
Advanced base camp (ABC) will be here, on the flat section on the right after crossing the glacier. Unusual.

Nanga Parbat from Herrligkoffer BC
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 6, 2013
Rupal face in january

Bazhin glacier
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 6, 2013
We walked along the ridge of the glacier up to the end. Nice view from there.

 

Trek to Herrligkoffer site
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 6, 2013
Sunday 6th january. Fida my LO came back from Astore. He made a lot of calls to PIA and told me he had to use bad words in Urdu xD actually my 2 tents are in my missing bag too, so I can’t go anywhere. PIA is killing me, because I’m losing all my training with all this waiting. The bag was in Islamabad, PIA cancelled all flights every day, and it was impossible to get my bag back to send it from Islamabad by road. So now, after some Urdu trash talking, the situation changed and my bag should be here in 2 days. I remember Simone Moro’s expedition to Broad Peak few years ago. He had to wait 1 month in Skardu. So I wait and take it easy. I also made a little trek today to check the glacier and the face. 26km in 8 hours with a local guy. We went to the end of the Herrligkoffer area at 3700m, saw a little fox, and shared some food. Actually the trek is quite long in winter because there is ice on the ground all the way up to Latobah where they cut wood and bring it back with donkeys. Girls from Rupal have to walk 1h30 every morning to be at school in Tarishing on 8h a.m. As I lost 1 full week waiting, I’m going to use porters, friends of Fida. I really need to go to altitude now. It’s beautiful here but there is no electricity and anything else, winters are difficult. It’s good for local people to have a little job and money in the cold of winter. It’s very clean here compared to all the cities I crossed. They take care of their spring water sources. It’s good to see that. I made a lot of pictures, my route looks good with the 560mm (and x1,6 crop factor). It’s very technical but possible. The difficult part are the parallel cracks from 6300m to 6500. If it’s possible to climb this crux, the rest of rock climbing is going to be a little easier. But only ice around the central pillar, my 2nd route option, and some abseil needed for the descend at 7200m. More pictures coming soon.

 

Rupal face from Tarishing
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 5, 2013
My route. It’s very dry this winter, not a lot of snow. Last year it was dry too in the first winter weeks, but with a lot of snow falling every days in march making it difficult and dangerous for the expeditions. With good conditions, Denis Urubko and Simone Moro would have reach the summit for sure. Great climbers. And yes my route is very dry. I can’t see the crux from here. The most difficult part is from 6300m to 6700m. Actually it’s extremely hard from 6300m to 7500m =) gosh. So even if I keep this route inside of me and don’t say much about it, the good climbers who know this mountain know the route I’m going to try.

Summit, east face, rupal face
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 5, 2013
East face, 5 january 2013. I post this picture in case of, for climbers that may one day try this face. A lot of crevasses… this quite simple to climb looking face is actually very dangerous too. I study a possible snowboard route. The first sections descending to the south summit are more challenging than planned. I need to see the conditions from another point, more from the west.

Rupal
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 5, 2013
Rupal valley in january.

Nanga Parbat from Tarishing
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 5, 2013
View from Tarishing. (5 january 2013. Nanga Parbat on the left).

 

Road to Tarishing
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 5, 2013
On friday (5 january) we decided to move to the mountains despite my missing bag with all my clothes. It is cheaper in Tarishing, and I can see Nanga. The road was cool and fun. We had an accident in Gilgit, the car behind us crushed into our car. The guy was driving without brakes. Try this in France. Our solid jeep had absolutely nothing, his car was destroyed. Nanga looks so massive from the KKH. We loaded my cargo bags in Astore. Everything was here. At one point of the road, you make a turn and the massive shape of Nanga appears. I was looking at it, without any emotions, fear, or any doubts. Completely focused. When I realized this, I made some mental checks to try to find any hidden doubts. I found nothing than cold concentration. I’m new to high altitude climbing. One full year of preparation. Every day I prepared my mind to climb 20 days on the steep 80 degrees face in -50 Celsius. My mind is ready.

 

 

Colors of Gilgit #3
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 5, 2013
Some nice little fruits from Gilgit =)

 

Colors of Gilgit #2
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 5, 2013

 

Colors of Gilgit
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 5, 2013
Mountains surrounding Gilgit.

 

 

Waiting in Gilgit
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 5, 2013
(This post was written 1 day ago. Sorry if it double post, I’m facing connection problems). Today, yesterday, and the day before, all flights from Islamabad to Gilgit were cancelled. Two days ago the plane turned back 10 minutes before reaching Gilgit. My bag was so close… So I’m waiting, and waiting. Cricket is the national sport, but waiting is the real number one sport in Pakistan. And I’m pretty good at that. I may soon become a professional waiting player. My body is now used to local food, I’m just careful with salad and water. I eat a lot because everybody invite me to eat, or to drink tea. I will be healthy and fat when I’ll leave Gilgit =) It’s impressive how people are nice in the north. Sometimes I meet persons who also want to marry me to their daughter xD All the local people show me a lot of respect when they learn about the solo winter expedition and the steep new route. I don’t speak about it, but they all know about climbing and how difficult it is to climb Nanga Parbat in winter. The satellite phone’s camera is not very good, as you could see in the previous post. I don’t have a computer with me, so it’s difficult to send high quality pictures. But I’ll try to use my DSLR for this website as much as possible. It’s time consuming to find the right settings and to verify everything. And batteries are difficult to manage in cold environments; so time is critical. I also try to keep this website simple and humble with only few pictures for all mountain lovers. Hopefully I can promote Pakistan with this expedition.

 

 

Gilgit
by JW - satellite phone Posted on January 2, 2013
Tuesday (1st January) morning we went to the airport at 8 am to take our flight to Gilgit. The plane finally left the airport at 15h30 xD long wait but we are lucky, it should have been cancelled. We could see Nanga Parbat very closely. I could check snow conditions on proximate summits and on south faces, and also global wind flow impact. Of course my baggage was not in the plane. As usual. It is impossible to make it simple. Maybe it will arrive today. I give up and take it easy. Otherwise it’s too much stress involving, so I don’t worry. All my warm clothes are in this bag. I spent the night at the Rupal hotel which is usually very expensive. Fida my LO who seems to know everybody in north Pakistan got me an ultra low price, almost cheaper than the first entry guest house in Islamabad. When checking my backpack before leaving Islamabad, I found money and a letter that my mother secretly placed inside my bag. Even if the letter is more valuable to me, it was a nice discover because I was completely running out of money. It’s not a lot but I feel like a millionaire and could buy more food for the expedition.

 

ISLAMABAD #7 – Flight to Gilgit
by J Posted on December 31, 2012
Tomorrow my Liaison Officer and I should take the 2nd flight of the day to Gilgit. I paid for this flight a few months ago. It’s pretty cheap, we can maybe see Nanga Parbat’s summit, and we don’t need to take the KKH road which is in bad shape and has a lot of bumps. I wanted to avoid possible belly pain before the trek because of the long road and hours sitting. Driving more than 20h is not that fun.
The road from Gilgit to Tarishing takes about 5h. My cargo bags are on the road and we will pick them up in Astore.

Damned, I put special cream on my feet to prepare them for the trek. And my toes take the color of my blue sandals. The result looks like frostbitten toes, stade II oO’
It’s like a preview! Gosh… Bye bye feet.

ISLAMABAD #6 – Food and body mass
by J Posted on December 31, 2012
I have been really careful with food since my departure. The trek is going to be very long and hard with all my bags. So I need to be fit. Eating a lot should be good, but it’s too risky. I remember the Russian climber last winter on K2. I think it was Vitaly Gorelik. I’m not sure of is name but I remember his face and that everybody liked him, and that Denis Urubko knew him well and was quite affected by the death of his friend. The Russian doctor and expeditions leader said that before the pneumonia, he was having intestinal troubles since they arrived in Islamabad. So in memory of this good climber, I’m careful with what I eat. My body fat is low. I was weighting 70kg in France. Now I must be around 64 kg and stabilized. I think I can push it to 55 kg at the bottom of the Rupal Wall.
Sport climbing is difficult. If you train a lot, your body mass increases, so there’s no special gain. World class climbers are often like swimmers and other athletes: very tall, long segments, and ultra light. Some of them are almost anorexic and have to go to hospital after a competition. Don’t push it too hard.
Mountaineering is a little different and is more a way of life. You climb a mountain in the same way as you live your life. In my case, it’s alone and with engagement.

 

ISLAMABAD #5 – Paper clearance
by J Posted on December 31, 2012
Long and busy day. I went to the Embassies district. Our car was not registered despite previous phone calls and registration. So we took the shuttle that drives inside the district. After 20 security check-points (at least), we arrived at the French embassy. It was good to speak French again, to see a Christmas tree, and the French people there were very nice and ready to help. I could not get a paper signed, so we went to Askari Aviation to fill other papers. My father told me before I left that he could help me for the helicopter security deposit. I wanted to avoid that, but I tried everything and there’s no other choice.
Money cleared everything in few minutes, as always.
Adventure Pakistan will make the briefing for me at Alpine Club of Pakistan. In the afternoon, we took some lunch at Adventure Pakistan’s office. Hospitality is great here.

 

ISLAMABAD #4 – Climbing approach
by J Posted on December 30, 2012
It’s quite dangerous for someone like me to climb Nanga Parbat. It’s so difficult to climb, a lot of mountaineers have to stop and go down because of the risks and exposure. I just want to experience engagement as far as possible and climb like a machine. My approach to mountaineering is the same than for high level swimming training. You have a check-list full of parameters entries that you have to master, and some other unknown parameters that you have to discover to improve. The more the athlete controls and validates these parameters, the greatest the performance will be.
It’s exactly the same when I go climbing and snowboarding. I see “?” marks flashing everywhere, like when I watch a swimmer. When I look at Nanga Parbat’s Rupal face pictures, the whole mountain is flashing =) So I’m going to work one parameter after the other until the risk factor reduces to an acceptable level.
People in the Guest House are really nice, like in the whole city. My Liaison Officer is great. He takes care of me, and helps me to find all what I need.

ISLAMABAD #3 – Time flies, pain doesn’t
by J Posted on December 30, 2012
In front of the food shop lays a big Afghan township. Very simple and poor house constructions, made of rocks, mud, and plastic bags for the roofs. Such a contrast. I was watching these people in silence, as I watch the world in silence.
Sometimes I go running with my father in France to share moments with him. I cross the freeway bridge and watch the rush of all the hectic persons driving back home after work; and ask myself what kind of motivation they have. Love? Hopefully.
It may be difficult for you to understand why a climber is ready to lose his life on a mountain. Everybody has his own story and motivation.

 

ISLAMABAD #2 – Food
by J Posted on December 30, 2012
Yesterday I was shopping for food. For this expedition, I go light and with an arctic expedition food plan. A lot of cashews and nuts, olive oil, and chocolate. If you run out of gas, you can still eat something. I don’t have enough kcalories for the whole expedition, I will try to find cheap sources in Gilgit. I did not find macadamia nuts yet and pre-boiled rice to save gas and kerosene.
I made some test in France to check if my body can sustain that food regime. The first time, the skin under my eyes started to swell. No allergic reactions after that for the next days. So it should be alright. I have to brake the chocolate in small pieces, otherwise my teeth will break as the chocolate tabs become hard as concrete in extreme cold.

 

ISLAMABAD #1 – Security Deposit
by J Posted on December 30, 2012
Third day in Islamabad. Remember when I said that I’m not rich? Usually when expeditions come to Islamabad, they pay cash and can leave directly to the mountains. I don’t have the USD10.000 cash amount required for the helicopter security deposit, that’s a lot. I don’t even have enough money to buy all the food needed and will have to starve.
Monday I go to the French Embassy to get a paper signed for Askari Aviation. I should then flight to Gilgit on Tuesday, or later if the weather is not good. I have two solid insurances that are covering a huge amount of 40.000 euros for helicopter rescue. This security deposit is such a brake for tourism development here in Pakistan. Even if you can get it back, who can pay this? It’s impossible for local people to find this amount and go climbing.

 

Last hours in France
by admin Posted on December 27, 2012
A last picture before I leave. Checking the future vineyard in the garden with my Grivel Air Tech bag modified for my board. I use 163 El Grande wide boards because of my large Millet Everest mountaineering shoes. The G20 crampons barely fit. It’s real tight and creates a nice couple. The boards that I bring to Nanga Parbat are brand new, but in a few weeks they will be fully destroyed on the Rupal face.

 

 

Some of you are maybe discovering mountaineering and snowboarding with this website. Don’t do stupid things, improve your knowledge and technique and try to act pro. Steep snowboarding needs time and experience. Don’t rush it.
I started snowboarding with a very old and used 150 freestyle snowboard (20€) with cutted/glued biddings repaired with garbage screws, ugly snowboard boots (9,50€), and a piece of old strap to put it on my back. Pretty cheap xD The edges where completely round and rusty. It was so hard on hard pack and ice. My level increased quickly due to my pitiful edges, as I needed to control my balance and body position with precision to avoid the pain of a fall on ice. You should try.
If you start snowboarding, buy or build some wrist protections. Or don’t fall. (If you are a swimmer, you should not be allowed to go snowboarding without). Impacts with skiers can be really dangerous and happen quite often, so watch your back. If you start snowboarding and would like to leave the tracks to explore and ride big mountains, you first need to become a master in field observation. More particularly if you bring people with you. Solo glacier crossing like I do is not an option! You need to know a lot of security techniques and routine protocols to do that. Ask a guide, train hard, have fun. Next news from Pakistan.

Bye. Joel.

 

Email post
by JW Posted on December 26, 2012
testing my email addresses for the upcoming articles.

grigri ready to race his luggage trolley customized for high speed

 

Email post via satellite phone
by JW - satellite phone Posted on December 25, 2012
Enjoying my toes as I still have them.

 

Flights and climbing permit
by admin Posted on December 24, 2012
I had to change my flights. I will leave for Islamabad the 27th December 2012 and got a climbing permit valid up to the 21st March 2013. Thanks to Adventure Pakistan and the Gilgit Baltistan Council.

 

About the expedition and the new route attempt
by admin Posted on December 24, 2012
The lowest possible cost to keep it accessible for anybody. The most difficult and purest style possible.


Nanga Parbat altitud: 8126m.
It’s a complete solo climb. Base camp will be located in Tarishing, 2950m. Pure alpine style: no ropes, no O2, no fixed camps, no porters, no altitude porters, no staff. Only the mandatory Liaison Officer for security concerns.
It starts with a 11km trek to Herrligkoffer camp site, 3600m. This will be my advanced base camp. I go light but need to transport approx. 150kg, so my shoulders and my back will need so time to recover once I will be there. I bring 2 snowboards and can use them as a pluka for the trek when I reach the snow.
ABC altitude is very low with 3600m. My route starts after the Bazhin galcier at 3800m. 4300m to climb. The Rupal face is one of the biggest alpine face on earth. Probably the biggest. That’s why it’s so hard to climb it. To compare, for the Japanese and Hornbein couloir on Mount Everest central north face, you have to climb 2600m. But it’s very exposed too.


The route:
The first part of the route will be similar to the one Tomaz Humar took in 2005 but a little more S-E and more straight. (Steve House and Vince Anderson made an incredible ascent of the Rupal face a few days later, be sure to check it out and read their stories). It’s highly exposed to avalanches due to rock falls from the Rupal wall laying right over a big serac. Bivi spots are very rare and it’s dangerous up to 6200m.
What comes next is steep, that’s all you need to know. Hopefully I will be fit enough when I reach the top of the central serac. If it’s too windy and too difficult, and if I don’t feel great at that time, I have 2 other routes possible: to the left and the House Anderson route, to the right and another new line close to the 1985 route.


The snowboard descent:
I can’t tell you yet. If a storm hits the face, there will only be rocks and ultra hard ice everywhere to ride. And it will, for sure. It’s mentally tough. You just need patience for the snow conditions to be acceptable again. Can you afford that with winter conditions?
But if I’m on the summit with my board, I should descend the 3 plateaux over the Rupal wall. They are so beautiful. At 7500m I have different kind of lines possible:

- the “easiest” choice would be to reach the East face

- the second choice would be to descend the 3rd plateau to 7200m and fight

- the other is THE line. No words to describe it. You may find my body under that line.
If I strap on my snowboard on the summit, my survival chances are very low. But it’s possible and I trained hard for that. Also, the survival estimation is still higher than if you are in couple and in love with an extremely bad person. Without knowing it, you may face higher dangers than if you were on the Rupal face with me. Be careful, climbing is easy to handle compared to that.

 

Why Nanga Parbat? Why in winter?
by admin Posted on December 24, 2012
Even with a high number of sponsors, high altitude mountaineering stays an activity for rich persons. I’m not rich. Absolutely not. Unreachable.. But like always, complete engagement makes it possible.


The story: I was never really attracted by snowboarding, neither by mountaineering. I’m a swim coach, and as a coach you always ask yourself if you’re going to find a young person with enough mental forces to handle the massive amount of pain needed to reach high-level in swimming. Finding someone with interesting capacities, and help this person to growth as an athlete and as a good and sensible human.
You search, all your career and life.

And one day, someone showed me a photography and I found this person. It was a black and white picture of Marco Siffredi snowboarding the steep Nant Blanc on the Aiguille Verte. The level of engagement was so huge. With Marco I discovered snowboarding, and with snowboarding I discovered mountaineering. All the strong choices I had to make since that moment were all deeply linked to this photography. One second, one eye blink, and everything changes.

 

I still don’t like snowboarding, the ski resorts, and the mentality you find there. And when I see all the crowd on mount Everest every spring, this just keeps me away from that kind of mountaineering. I just enjoy engagement and to be in the nature facing the elements, with my board.
There’s that pure line in Tibet. Steep straight and exposed, just beautiful. But it’s a little expensive to go there. You have to pay a climbing permit for 8000m peaks. In Pakistan, winter permits are 5% of the normal price. I found there the loneliness and the financial accessibility. To go to K2 and the other 8000m peaks in the Karakorum in Pakistan, you have to walk 100-120 km. You need a lot of logistics and porters. So it’s expensive. You give all your money and you’re not even sure to reach base camp due to snow conditions. So you may take helicopters to reach the foot of the mountain. Congratulation you are now poor. It’s approx. USD100,000 for a winter expedition with helicopter transport.

 

And you have Nanga Parbat. The peak is not famous compare to others. But once you see the Rupal face, this mountain stays in your memory forever. It’s full of mountaineering history. You discover the mountain and all the historical climbers. Amazing stories. The trek is also short compared to the other peaks, so the costs needed are reduced. You end up with a very accessible price, and even if you have to put every penny in your expedition: it’s possible. Green light, dragster start.


So this is why winter, why Nanga Parbat. Forget about massive ego concerns, the first winter summit, to be the first to etc. I don’t care, I go and climb for myself because I seriously need it in my life right now. Herrligkoffer base camp, my little last piece of heaven surrounded by darkness. Thanks to Grivel for supporting this expedition and providing me quality technical and security equipment to try this incredible new route.

 

8000m training – #5 Carrying charges
by admin Posted on December 20, 2012
My training bag full of water and cast iron weights. Working my trapezius, calf/quadri and back muscles. Walking with 65kg, the bag can’t handle more and it’s already completely broken and stitched up everywhere. Like my body xD I started this summer with 30kg and it was so hard. Now I’m flying with the double. Training works. I guess a 10kg backpack at 8000m must feel like 100kg at sea level.
I carefully check my knees and spine when I’m loading. Running with it is too challenging for my left tibia (former multiples fractures area). It burns like hell. The pain is higher than a periostitis so I don’t try to go over 65kg and walk everywhere with my dog.
Don’t do that if the ground is frozen…

 

8000m training – #4 Snowboarding
by admin Posted on December 20, 2012
I do a lot of snowboard dryland training. Adding degrees increasingly as I improve my technique. Now I train on a regular 74° basis with clean turns, quick security protocols in case of fatigue induced errors, and low energy requirements for high altitude.
The reasons why I’m completely committed to steep snowboarding are quite personal. Sorry if I don’t talk a lot about. When I’m on my snowboard, it’s like in my live: steep, on ice, brutal painful and exposed. I’m going to publish an article on technical skills and physical specific strength. But if you are interested, just ask you why?
It may looks deathly, but it saved my life till now. When everything got smashed and shuttled down, it helped me to progress through hard moments. Like a last surviving star shining in the night. You try to keep watching it in silence and tears, as your body and soul get destroyed.
Can you train enough for the Rupal wall? Nanga Parbat’s East face looks quite ridable. But I don’t go there for that kind of line. More on steep snowboarding training soon.

8000m training – #3 Running
by admin Posted on December 20, 2012
I run all year long, everyday. Running is the main part of my training. It helps me to keep my heart rate low with efficient muscles contractions and low oxygen needs. I used to run distances going from 7 to 20km. Now that my dog can’t run anymore, I reduced the km amount and changed it with heavy backpack carrying. So my training partner can still hold the pace and share moments.
My free diver background helps me a lot to control and reduce my heart rate. As a mountaineer, you should be sure to find some inspiration with free diving. Beside the physical benefits, freediving also open minds, makes you feel free, and gives you a larger view and understanding of pollution sources. Everything ends up in the sea. It’s sad and so disgusting when you spend a lot of time in the water.
Don’t walk or run with fully inflated lungs, this creates micro lesions. Just reduce every muscle tension with mental check.
How long could a world-class free diver stay over 8000m? Deep in the sea and high on the mountain… so different and so close. This is certainly the training key for many technical and exhausting situations at high altitude.

8000m training – #2 Cycling
by admin Posted on December 20, 2012
Beside the garden, my training program was including cycling.
Cycling with my brother in the French Vosges, the deep Sundgau in Elsass, and the Schwarzwald in Germany. All the local peaks had to be ridden! The Ballon d’Alsace from the S-E is pretty cool, the Blauen in Germany also. Our favorite place remains the steep section of Kleinkems in Germany (see picture). One day I broke my pedal in the 18% part on la Planche des belles filles, on sunset and 50km to go. Nice little training.

I don’t have a lot of money so I often took my bike to check the snow conditions on the different peaks like the Hohneck. So up to 140km per ride. I’m too heavy to ride more and it becomes quite uncomfortable after 5-6 hours.

My brother on the pick was riding this ultra light pure beast. In the final section of an ascent, watching a T-Mobile guy in front of you telling “Quäl dich du Sau!” in memory of Jan Ullrich and Udo Bölts is pretty fun and motivating xD

8000m training – #1 Spring training
by admin Posted on December 20, 2012

 

You would like to know how I train for a 8000m climb? Old school

 

This spring I started my training program in a garden. Hitting the ground with tools, cutting trees, carrying rocks, there’s nothing better for strength training. And it’s one of the last thing that is still free to do. 10 tons of rocks and many wounds later, my back started to get fit.

Ice axes
by admin Posted on December 20, 2012
I’ll use the Quantum Tech ice axes (1 shovel adze, 1 hammer) on the Rupal wall, and keep a security Quantum Light ice axe in my backpack and use it as a shaft too with the Grivel steel blade shovel. The Gopro 3 on my Grivel ice axe. It’s actually quite the same system that Reinhold Messner used many year ago for is summit picture on Nanga Parbat =)
The Grivel Matrix Tech was my first technical ice axe. I was not sponsored by Grivel at that time. The Matrix ice axes are so light, the Quantum even more. I use them too when I’m snowboarding.

Grivel Master Pro
by admin Posted on December 20, 2012
Free solo lead climbing with the Grivel Master Pro. Very fluid compared to other devices. The extra friction option is great for rappelling with bulky mittens and frozen ropes.
Be careful when solo lead climbing. All the static phases make this style of climbing so dangerous.

Testing the focal length
by admin Posted on December 20, 2012
I’m going to shoot a gigapanorama of Nanga Parbat’s Rupal face from Herrligkoffer BC. 6000 pictures with a 1120mm x 1,6 crop factor. 1792mm oO’ Hopefully the sky will be clear one full day.

That’s my training partner on the picture. I used to run 10k per day with her. But she’s now fighting tumors and can’t run anymore. Running alone without her is tasteless.

Visa
by admin Posted on December 20, 2012
In Paris last week for Visa application. The Embassy of Pakistan is right beside the Arc de Triomphe. HDR training with one of my compacts. Not great but runs on lithium AA and should serve as backup solution. All my electronic devices are now prepared for arctic conditions and work with dummies batteries.

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