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It's hard to put it in words, Dodo Kopold wrote right after returning from Shisha Pangma in April. The wound is still fresh and it's hard not to get emotional. (Click to enlarge).
"For the past few months Marek and I had been like twins. We trained together, spent a month climbing in Chamonix, and planned to do further expeditions together in the future. Since we started climbing together, Marek had improved a lot; I was positive that we would be equal partners on this expedition. He was amazingly fit and, most important, had a very strong will. (Click to enlarge).
The last 50m to the summit took me about 30 minutes. I did not stay long as it was very windy. I quickly descended in Marek's footsteps. At a fixed lines anchor-point at 7600m I found his ice axe and no further footprints (Click to enlarge).
"On our summit day, I waited for Marek about 200 meters below the summit. He was feeling strong and motivated. He said: 'Dodo, promise me we will make it to the top. I will follow you. But if I can't keep up then you must go on; I will go down and wait for you in C2'. (Click to enlarge).
Marek must have stumbled and fell while changing from one icy fixed line to another. The terrain was icy and steep. He must have gathered speed quickly and probably fell over the rock precipice near C2. I searched for traces around C2 and found his torn glove, and what seemed like traces of an attempt to stop from falling. (Click to enlarge).
Although we will never know why he decided to turn down, I admire him for being able to make such decision. Maybe it is hard to imagine, but the summit was so close! We had climbed over 2,000 meters, endured two cold bivouacs there were just a few meters left to go, maybe an hour of climbing. (Click to enlarge).
We separated. In the Himalayas everybody climbs at his own pace. The climbers from one team may climb a hundred or two hundred meters from each other and it doesn't mean they didn't climb together. Marek was a bit slower than me, but I always waited for him." (Click to enlarge).
A small cairn under Shisha Pangma commemorates the tragic death of Marek Hudák. He will live forever in our hearts and memories. All images courtesy of Dodo Kopold's website (click to enlarge).
He came from nowhere: In 2005 Slovak climber Dodo Kopold and his friend Gabo Emarik opened a major new route on the southwest side of great Trango Tower. The next year the two young guns came back for an Uli Biaho, Shipton and Cats Ear triple header. This year, Dodo changed the technical climbs for 4 8000ers. The quest has already cost him one friend, Marek Hudak. Image of Gabo Emarik (left) and Dodo Kopold (right) after the 54 hour ice climb on Uli Biaho last summer, courtesy of the climbers ..
Now the young climber aims for a new route on K2s west face together with fellow Slovak Peter Hamor and Polish Piotr Morawski.

Dodo Kopolds Shisha Pangma debrief: Unhealed wounds

Posted: Jun 29, 2007 07:10 pm EDT
(MountEverest.net) Previously making his mark on lower but highly technical peaks, Dodo Kopold is now entering the death zone. Currently on his way to Nanga Parbat and K2, in just one season, Dodo has experienced the joy of summiting 8000+ and the pain of losing a friend. The moment he stepped on Shishas summit; Dodo's mate Marek Hudák fell to his death only meters below. <cutoff>

<b>2007 Pakistan dream team</b>

March 31, Kopold made the first summit on Cho Oyu this year. Days later he topped out Shisha Pangma via its south side. With 2, 8000ers down - now the young climber aims for a new route on K2s west face together with fellow Slovak Peter Hamor and Polish Piotr Morawski.

The dream team (Morawski and Hamor were awarded among the Best of ExplorersWeb last year for their outstanding Annapurna and Broad Peak climbs) hopes to scale K2 in alpine style after acclimatizing on Nanga.

However, Dodo is traveling to Pakistan with a hard memory: The moment he stepped on Shishas summit, his mate and twin soul Marek Hudák fell to his death some meters below. Dodo describes his feelings in the following debrief:

<b>Promise me we will make it to the top</b>

It's hard to put it in words, Dodo Kopold wrote right after returning from Shisha Pangma. The wound is still fresh and it's hard not to get emotional.

We separated. In the Himalayas everybody climbs at his own pace. The climbers from one team may climb a hundred or two hundred meters from each other and it doesn't mean they didn't climb together. Marek was a bit slower than me, but I always waited for him."

"On our summit day, I waited for Marek about 200 meters below the summit. He was feeling strong and motivated. He said: 'Dodo, promise me we will make it to the top. I will follow you. But if I can't keep up then you must go on; I will go down and wait for you in C2'.

When I was some 50 meters away from the summit, I saw him slowly descending along the old fixed lines. It was a difficult route to C2, but the fixed lines promised safety. Unfortunately, they were not in very good condition.

<b>I found his ice-axe and no more footprints</b>

The last 50m to the summit took me about 30 minutes. I did not stay long as it was very windy. I quickly descended in Marek's footsteps. At 7600m, on a fixed line anchor-point, I found his ice axe and no further footprints

Marek must have stumbled and fell while changing from one icy fixed line to another. The terrain was icy and steep. He must have gathered speed quickly and probably fell over the rock precipice near C2. I searched for traces around C2 and found his torn glove, and what seemed like traces of an attempt to stop from falling.

<b>Without a trace</b>

Five days after the accident we departed from base camp. However, the search continued. A Korean expedition planned to climb the same route we had, fixing 3,000 meters of rope on the way. They knew where we had bivouacked, and the place where Marek probably fell. I was in contact with the leader of the expedition and they would let us know if they found any trace <i>(Ed. Note: No further report has been released on Mareks remains being found. Chinese authorities declared Hudák dead one week after he went missing.)</i>

Unfortunately, our own previous search had been hindered by the weather. Since I got down from the mountain, it snowed every day; the wind was strong and the face was swept by avalanches. Any possible trace was covered by the snow and we could not see any movement on the mountain.

<b>Like twin brothers</b>

I have never experienced such a grave atmosphere as that in our base camp after Marek's disappearance. For the past few months Marek and I had been like twins. We trained together, spent a month climbing in Chamonix, and planned to do further expeditions together in the future. Since we started climbing together, Marek had improved a lot; I was positive that we would be equal partners on this expedition. He was amazingly fit and, most important - he had a very strong will.

Although we will never know why he decided to turn down, I admire him for being able to make such decision. Maybe it is hard to imagine, but the summit was so close! We had climbed over 2,000 meters, endured two cold bivouacs there were just a few meters left to go, maybe an hour of climbing.

A small cairn under Shisha Pangma commemorates the tragic death of Marek Hudák. He will live forever in our hearts and memories.

<i>Dodo Kopold was born in 1980. His new routes on Himalayan big walls have garnered him recognition from the Slovak Mountaineering Union every year since 2002.

His openings include Sharp Knife of Intolerance on Castle Peak, Himachal Pradesh (2002, capsule style); Last Minute Journey on Mt. Mahindra, Indian Miyar Valley (2003, alpine style); Khanadan Buttres on Karakorums Shipton Spire (2004, first repetition, alpine style); Assalam Alaikum on Karakorums Great Trango Tower (a new 3,000m-plus long route opened alpine style in 2005); plus two new alpine-style routes last year on Karakorums Haina Brakk (Dolzag Dihedral) and Uli Biaho (Drastissima).

This year, Dodo has stepped up to the 8,000m-plus peaks, planning ascents on four of them. On March 31, 2007 Dodo achieved te first 8000+ meter summit of the year, on Cho Oyu. On April 22, he summited Shisha Pangma from its south face, via the British route. His mate Marek Hudák, who had turned around shortly before the summit, fell to his death on the way down.

This summer Kopold is teaming up with fellow Slovak Peter Hamor and Polish Piotr Morawski, in order to attempt an alpine-style first ascent on the west face of K2. The three climbers will acclimatize on Nanga Parbat before moving to K2s BC on Savoy Glacier.

A former member of Slovakia's national handball team and participant in ski-alpinism competitions, Marek Hudák was described as a extremely strong climber. He attempted Cho Oyu in 2005, climbed in Peru in 2006 and this year trained hard in Alps for the planned Himalayan double-header. "Marek always gives his best," his team mates stated on the expedition's website. </i>



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