14,8000ers quest update: Spring additions and summer outlook

Posted: May 31, 2007 03:10 pm EDT

(MountEverest.net) In the last few weeks a number of climbers have gained posts in order to become the next 14x8000er summiteers; options are open though, depending on what happens in Pakistans mountains. Although the strongest candidate is still Italian Silvio Mondinelli whos currently on his way toward the last stage of his quest on Broad Peak he may soon have company in Finnish Veikka Gustaffson who has announced plans for a tripleheader on all the peaks among the Big 14 he has yet to summit: Broad and both Gasherbrums.

Winners and losers at Annapurnas dangerous game

On May 24, Ecuadorian Ivan Vallejo and Australian Andrew Lock summited Annapurna, their 13th and 12th 8,000er respectively. It was been a risky bet: The guys climbed the summit in spite of the routes dangerous conditions. On the contrary, Spaniard Iñaki Ochoa chose to retreat from the joint summit push while snow blindness forced Serguey Bogomolov to turn back. Otherwise, the two of them would have equaled Vallejo in the ranking.

In any case, Ivan Vallejo wont get done with the 14x8000ers quest this summer: He still needs to summit Dhaulagiri, not attainable during the monsoon season. Its also unclear whether he had plans to attempt it this fall or wait till next year. As for Andrew, he wished he had more luck on Shisha Pangma, as he attempted to summit the mountain right before Annapurna, but failed to top-out. Now in order to complete his mission hell have to return to the Tibetan peak and Makalu.

While there is no new news on Bogomolovs plans, he still has K2 and Annapurna to go. Iñaki is surely not hurrying up according to reports he will need a suitable team (strong, fast and motivated) in order to climb Annapurna again, while Kangchenjunga, his other pendant account, will also require time and dedication.

Ralf and Gerlinde, together on K2

Another spring 2007 summiteer is German Ralf Dujmovits, who bagged Manaslu on May 19 it was his 12th 8000er. However, Dujmovits is not a man to reach a summit and forget about it. He has repeated expeditions on several peaks, and hell do it again this summer by climbing K2 (whose top he reached in 1994) together with his wife Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner.

Gerlinde, by the way, has summited nine, 8000ers. Though she failed to reach the top on Dhaulagiri, she did more than enough by surviving an avalanche which buried her tent in C2 and killed two Spanish climbers meters away from her. Time will tell if K2 becomes her 10th 8000er.

Nives and Romanos claims on Shisha Pangma

Speaking of lady climbers with 10, 8000ers summited Italian Nives Meroi topped out Everest without supplementary O2 three weeks ago, together with husband Romano Benet. According to stats, Nives is now equal with Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner. But Meroi herself fiercely disagrees. The Italian couple is openly claiming to have actually reached the main summit of Shisha Pangma over a decade ago.

Back then, in zero visibility, Nives and Romano climbed to what they thought was the highest point of Shisha Pangma, which was across the ridge from the central summit of Shisha. But some voices arose alleging there wasnt enough proof of a summit, and the claim has been disputed since then. Some other teams have reached the same point, and their claims never been put into doubt, Nives told ExplorersWeb recently. So why is our summit not valid, while theirs is? On her website, Meroi ensures she has summited 10, 8000ers, which makes her the female climber closest to bagging them all.

Serap Jangbu for Nanga without Hee-Joon?

On a sadder note, Korean Oh Hee-Joon, another strong racer in the quest, perished on Everests SW face this spring. Oh hoped to give Nanga Parbat a try, accompanied by Sherpa Serap Jangbu.

Serap Jangbu is willing to become the first Sherpa to join the 14x8000er summiteers club, and seems in a good position to make it. After providing the proof for his claim of summiting Dhaulagiri back in 2005, he shows 10 out of the 14 peaks on his resume. News is expected on Serap, who might team up with other Korean climbers on his quest.

In spite of decades of attempts, at this point only 12 men and no women have summited all 14 8000ers in the world. Italian Reinhold Messner was first in 1986; the latest was American Ed Viesturs two years back on Annapurna. In addition, only 5 men made it without O2: Messner; Viesturs; Swiss Erhard Loretan; and Spaniards Juan Oiarzabal and Alberto Iñurategi. The question is now, wholl be the lucky thirteenth 14x8000er summiteer?

Seven living climbers are currently on peak number 13: Swiss mountain guide Norbert Joos with only Everest left to go; Silvio Mondinelli, who still needs to summit Broad Peak; Polish Piotr Pustelnik, who only has Annapurna left; Italian Abele Blanc, also with a pending appointment with Annapurna; Italian Fausto de Stefani, with Lhotse to go; British Alan Hinkes (who claims to have summited all 14, although his summit on Cho Oyu is controversial); and Ecuadorian Ivan Vallejo, stil needing to reach the top of Dhaulagiri.


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Italian Silvio Mondinelli is still the strongest candidate to become the next 14x8000er summiteer - he is going for Broad Peak on June 14. Image of Silvio 'Gnaro' Mondinelli courtesy of his website (click to enlarge).
Finnish Veikka Gustaffson has announced plans for a tripleheader on all the peaks among the Big 14 he has yet to summit: Broad and both Gasherbrums.Portrait of Veikka courtesy of his website.

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