Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and David Göttler summit Nuptse
On 17 May Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and David Göttler reached the summit of Nuptse (7861m) via the long and difficult North Ridge Scott route. A beautiful and testing climb, far removed from the nearby crowds at Everest.
At 13:00 on 17 May Austrian Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and German David Göttler successfully carried out a beautiful ascent in the Nepalese Himalaya with their ascent of Nuptse, the beautiful and difficult mountain located close to Everest and Lhotse. The two alpinists had initially planned on attempting the unclimbed East Ridge but then opted for the Scott route up the North Ridge which had been first ascended in alpine style in 1979 by British climbers Doug Scott, Alan Rouse, Brian Hall and Frenchman Georges Bettembourg, ie some of the leading Himalayan climbers of that era. It is worth underlining that the Scott route is climbed very rarely indeed and it was first repeated in 1996 by Axel Schlönvogt and Kaltenbrunner's husband Ralf Dujmovits. So, Kaltenbrunner, the first woman to have climbed all 14 8000ers without the use of supplementary oxygen, has once again proven she is a true alpinist. Which in these days in the Himalaya (above all on the increasingly crowded Everest) this certainly counts for something.
Kaltenbrunner and Göttler reached the summit it nigh perfect conditions with sun and almost no wind at all. This was a beautiful present which the two fully deserved after having acclimatised properly and then failed on a first attempt due to unstable weather conditions. The second attempt, the one which resulted in the summit, started on 14 May with their ascent to Camp 2 and then continued the next day to the base of the characteristic pillar. From here the two had planned to make the summit push on 16 May but given the weather forecast provided by Dujmovits (himself engaged on Everest) the two preferred to delay the ascent and ascended the difficult pillar to 7250m where they bivied for the night. "After the long, steep and demanding ascent we felt very tired" wrote Kaltenbrunner " The heavy packs, the continuous belaying, the concentration – we felt every bit of our climb."
After a short rest Kaltenbrunner and Göttler set off at 06:15 on 17 May and continued roped-up due to the route's elevated difficulties. "Looking down was absolutely breathtaking." stated Kaltenbrunner on her blog "From our bivouac we were able to see base camp, the whole of the Western Cwm, Camp II, Camp III on the Lhotse Face and we could even look as far as the Tibetan Plateau!!!"
The two finally summited at 13:00: "When I heard a loud cry of joy, I knew that this must be the summit. I quickly climbed up and already during the last metres before the summit I could sense a myriad of feelings– happiness, thankfulness and joy were running though my body. Sixteen years after Ralf and Axel Schlönvogt had reached the summit via the „Scott Route“, David and I were blessed to be up here and enjoy the amazing views on a windless and perfect day. The main summit of Nuptse has only seen 17 ascents while hundreds of people get in line to reach the top of Everest. From up here the view was beautiful and completely different than from Everest and Lhotse, even though those three mountains are very close together."
After the summit the duo spent a second night in their bivy at 7250m, then descended to Camp 2 the next day where they were met by Dujmovits who had, wisely, abandoned his attempt to ascend Everest without supplementary oxygen at the South Col at circa 7950m because of health problems and fatigue related to the altitude.
The three reached Base Camp safely and Kaltenbrunner concluded "Yesterday evening, David, Ralf and I were sitting at base camp feeling tired but also happy about the indescribably beautiful days we had just experienced. Over a plate of potatoes we were telling each other stories and felt very happy. Life is beautiful!!!"