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Kammerlander
Hans Kammerlander, a world-class
  1 2  cv 
Has it become more difficult to get the right frame of mind for important projects?

Yes, it's become more difficult. That's also why I'm not going directly to K2, but first I'm going to climb a 6000m peak. The last few years have been stressful and I need to free my mind. A good recipe for success is to climb a different peak before attempting the main goal. To be stress free and to have the right frame of mind are fundamental when going into the mountains: success is 70% in the mind.

Are you able to rid yourself of pressure from your sponsors, from other mountaineers and all that's around you?

I'm lucky because I've got sponsors who don't push me into doing things I don't want. If that were the case I would annul the contract immediately.
This has never happened though and I know that I'm lucky, but I'm also in a situation now in which I can say no, and this clearly is a great advantage.

Many young mountaineers however make mistakes and take risks when they shouldn't, because they feel under pressure from sponsors. I don't feel under pressure from my colleagues. On the contrary, if someone is successful I'm happy and my spontaneous reaction is to congratulate them.

When one talks about 8000m peaks, one also thinks about the "death zone"…

It's very stimulating to "live" in the death zone. Before I climbed my first 8000m peak, Cho Oyo, I thought I knew my body quite well. But when I arrived at altitude I realised that I knew absolutely nothing at all.
I experienced things I'd never felt before. To clarify this point, one should bear in mind that when I'm fit on the Moosstock I can do 1600m altitude gain in one hour and eight minutes. In one hour in the death zone I can climb 100m.

It's always exciting and motivating to climb at those heights, but only by fair means. I wouldn't feel these sensations if I climbed with supplementary oxygen, which I'm completely against.
The difference between climbing with or without oxygen is like day and night. It's like doing the Tour de France with a moped.

Is that a hallmark of your ascents?

Yes. I absolutely refuse supplementary oxygen. An 8000m peak becomes 7000 and the sporting achievement is lost completely. Not to mention the large number of oxygen bottles and other stuff left behind as rubbish.
It also needs to be said that the Sherpas are treated very badly because of the need for oxygen since they have to carry the bottles for the mountaineers.

I accept the pioneers' use of oxygen. But ever since it was shown that it can be done without, I don't accept it. If you use oxygen then perhaps you reach the summit, but I don't consider it a real ascent.

If these mountaineers brought the oxygen bottles back down with them, could you accept it?

If they were capable of bringing everything back down, perhaps I could. What really annoys me however is the misuse of the Sherpas and that rubbish is left behind on the mountain.
Fundamentally their ambitions are twisted: it would be far more intelligent to climb a 7000m peak and be able to say "I did a great ascent", instead of raping an 8000er by climbing it with supplementary oxygen.

You used the word pioneers. Is this still applicable in the Himalaya?

No, so much has already been done. Tomaz Humar, for example, made a fantastic and difficult ascent on Dhaulagiri, an example to all. He is to be congratulated, but I don't think he can be described as a pioneer.


Kammerlander near Everest
Kammerlander with his skis, near Everest.
Photo Kammerlander archive
It's very stimulating to "live" in the death zone. Before I climbed my first 8000m peak, Cho Oyo, I thought I knew my body quite well.
But when I arrived at altitude I realised that I knew absolutely nothing at all.
Will you continue to work as a Mountain Guide?

It's become more a hobby than a profession, but I still very much enjoy taking people trekking or climbing. At the end of the day it's marvellous to see how the clients look at the mountains.

What do you tell these people?

I talk to them about Nepal and Tibet. I practically feel at home in Nepal: I love the people. I've built a school there to thank them for the strong emotions and to give something in return for their hospitality and friendship.
But when I go to Tibet my heart bleeds, because what the Chinese are doing to the Tibetans cannot be described.

As Hans Kammerlander, can you do anything?

What I can do is bring the problem to light. To inform people about it, write articles, take photos. Because people can't react if they don't know about the problem. This is the only thing I can do. My hands are tied.

How would you explain your mountaineering style to a young person?

First of all, it's extremely important to spend enough time at base camp. Not rush things, remain really calm, do nothing for five, six days, don't even try to reach camp 1. It's a lot better to read a good book. Many expeditions make the mistake of going up high immediately, perhaps to make use of a spell of good weather, but the expedition will fail because of this haste.

Afterwards however, when you do decide to go, go quickly, because speed means safety in the mountains. During the ascent speed is of essence: few bivouacs, the fewest possible, because nights are so tiring. At altitude they bring fear, and if you accumulate this negative energy you become weak.

What could you suggest to mountaineers in search of new projects?

I would suggest they concentrate their energies on traverses: there's still a lot to do in this area. For example, in Patagonia there's the Cerro Torre - Torre Standhart - Torre Egger traverse, and in the Himalaya there's Everest - Lhotse.
I think that if you want to become a professional mountaineer then you can't not consider these traverses. There are still some possibilities in this direction, still some chances.

What's your dream?

As I mentioned before, from a sporting point of view my dream is definitely to make the first ski descent of K2. I've left K2 right to the end on purpose, to relive some really strong emotions.

The Himalaya aside, do you have any other dreams?

I would like to finally build a house, to settle down a bit. My passion for the mountains has taken me all around the world, almost like a gypsy and I haven't had time or enough energy for things of this sort. Now I would like a beautiful house, with a nice cellar for wines from all over the world!

Kammerlander skiing down Everest
Kammerlander skiing down Mt. Everest.
Photo Kammerlander archive
First of all, it's extremely important to spend enough time at base camp. Not rush things, remain really calm, do nothing for five, six days, don't even try to reach camp 1. It's a lot better to read a good book.
During the ascent speed is of essence: few bivouacs, the fewest possible, because nights are so tiring. At altitude they bring fear, and if you accumulate this negative energy you become weak.
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