This third part on Rodrigo Granzotto's Everest and Himalaya Chronicle focuses on climbers joining the 14x8000er summiteers' club, historic records, and other "firsts" achieved in spring 2010. It also hits the bull's eye on some doubts and controversies which made waves during the season.
ALL 14 CLUB
As predicted on last years Chronicle, the list of climbers with all 14 would double or more in the next few years, and we are starting to see just this. In 2009 four climbers ended the race: Denis Urubko, Ralf Dujmovits, Veikka Gustafsson and Andrew Lock. This year, so far, four more: João Garcia, Piotr Pustelnik, Oh Eun-Sun and Edurne Pasaban. The list had 14 names by the end of 2008, and now there are 22 (an increase of 57%).
The next hot spot will be K2, where Maxut Zhumayev, Vassili Pivtsov, Serguey Bogomolov and Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner are in position to also join the club, therefore, the list will almost double in just one year (2009-2010). Also, as dark horse, there is Serap Jangbu Sherpa, who still needs NP, G1 and BP.
Spring Season: those who concluded the quest for all 14:
João Garcia: the first Portuguese and the eleventh person to summit all 14 without oxygen. The career of João started on Cho Oyu (1993) where he opened a partially new variant with Wielicki and Pustelnik and then Nanga Parbat. After the tragedy on Everest (1999), he suffered severe frostbite and needed to be helped down by the Brazilian couple Paulo and Helena Coelho. But João was strong and persistent. He recovered and came back to the game with a strong appetite. He succeeded during 2004-2010 by finishing the last ten 8000ers.
Piotr Pustelnik: the third climber from Poland to end the race. Very respected not only for his skills but also for humanitarianism works in helping so many times with climbers who were in trouble (K2 in 1996, BP in 1999 and AN in 2006). Annapurna--the last 8000er on his path--proved to be tough. Two tries on the S Face (2004 and 2005), one on the E Ridge (2006) and one on the N Face (2008), which all ended without success. After 2006, Pustelnik stated: This mountain, which I tried to conquer for the third time, sucked out all my climbing skills and my humanity. But fortunately he came back and finally conquered Annapurna and ended an almost 20-years journey among the 8000ers. He is also the oldest climber to conquer all 14 at 58 years old.
Oh Eun-Sun: accomplished what seemed impossible. In 2007, with only three 8000ers summiting (G2, EV and SH), she was light-years away from Edurne, Gerlinde and Nives. But she had big plans and, with support of strong sponsors, unlimited money and a formidable structure; she summited eleven 8000ers in about three years. On Gasherbrum I (2009) she left Edurne behind and become the leading female climber. Consequently, this spring she concluded her quest as the first woman to summit all 14.
Edurne Pasaban: the third climber from Spain and the second female climber to summit all 8000ers. Her first peak was Everest, with Ivan Vallejo and Silvio Mondinelli, two of her most regular partners. After climbing some mountains, she joined the Al Filo de Lo Imposible, a television show for TVE, and also had sponsorship and structure to pledge herself to the race. With two summits this Season (Annapurna and exactly one month later Shishapangma), she succeeded. It is interesting to point out that she has conquered all 14 in a very short time: eight years and 11 months (faster than her, only Jerzy Kukuczka, Park Young-Seok, Han Wang-Young and Denis Urubko).
FIRSTS AND RECORD BREAKERS
First Austrian women--Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, Sylvia Studer, Claudia Studer
First Bangladeshi--Musa Ibrahim
First British to summit 8x--Kenton Cool
First Central-American to summit EV from both sides--Julio Bird (P.R.)
First climber to summit 20x--Apa Sherpa (NEP)
First climbers to summit twice in five different seasons--Phurba Tashi (NEP) and Dorje Sonam Gyalzen (NEP)
First Finn woman--Carina Raihasta
First Guatemalan woman--Andrea Cardona
First Hungarian to summit 2x--Anita Ugyan
First Irish to summit 3x--Noel Richmond Hanna
First Italian to summit 4x--Simone Moro
First woman from Central America--Andrea Cardona (GUA)
First woman to summit the Nepali Route for three straight years--Melissa Sue Arnot (USA)
First Maltese--Robert Gatt, Greg Attard and Marco Cremona
First Mexican to summit 4x--Yuri Contreras Cedi
First Montenegrins--Niksicani Dordije Vujicic, Marko Blecic, Dragutin Vujovic
First New Zealander to summit 7x--Mark Woodward
First mother-and-daughter team from Tibetan side--Sylvia and Claudia Studer (AUT)
First Omani--Khalid Sulaiman Humaid Al-Siyabi
First South American disabled--Nelson Cardona (COL)
First South Korean to summit 4x--Heo Young-Ho
First western brothers to summit together two consecutive years--Willie and Damian Benegas (ARG/USA)
Oldest Brazilian--Manoel Morgado, 53
Oldest Brazilian woman--Cleo Weidlich, 46
Oldest Finn--Mika Pitkamaki, 40
Oldest Danish woman--Stina Dalgaard Pedersen, 35
Oldest Norwegian--Tore Rasmussen, 60
Oldest Portuguese--Angelo Felgueiras, 46
Oldest Turkish--Ali Nasuh Mahruki, 42
Second western climber to summit Everest 10x--Guillermo (Willie) Benegas (ARG/USA)
Western climber with more summits (12)--Dave Hahn (USA)
Youngest climber--Jordan Romero (USA), 13
Youngest British woman--Bonita Gina Norris, 25
Youngest Indian--Arjun Vajpayee, 16
Youngest Indian woman--Bhagyashree Manohar Sawant, 18
Youngest Lebanese--Elia Saikaly, 31
Update Sep14: Eric Simonson of IMG notes that Greek Anastasia Iliopulou didn't summit, and that Bryan Chapman and Michael Chapman are not brothers as previously mentioned.
Youngest woman climber--Tamara Lunger (ITA), 23
First Dutch--Arnold Coster
First French woman--Sandrine De Choudens
First Greek--Zaharias Kiriakakis
First Swiss woman--Alexia Zuberer
First Turkish--Tunç Findik
Youngest Ukrainian--Vladimir Roshko, 27
First South American to summit 2x--Maximo Kausch (ARG)
First Iranians--Azim Gheychisaz, Iraj Maani, Vaase Mousavi, Majid Nematollahi and Mahmoud Hashemi
First Romanian--Horia Colibasanu
First Spanish woman--Edurne Pasaban
First woman to summit all 14--Oh Eun-Sun (S.K.)
First woman to Top Eight Nepal--Edurne Pasaban (SPA)
First Westerner to summit AN 2x--Peter Hamor (SLK)
First Westerner to summit from both sides--Peter Hamor (SLK)
Oldest Russian climber--Evgeny Vinogradsky, 63
Oldest Polish--Piotr Pustelnik, 58
Oldest South Korean woman--Oh Eun-Sun, 43
Oldest Spaniard--Juanito Oiarzabal, 54
Youngest Polish woman--Kinga Baranowska, 35
First Spanish woman--Edurne Pasaban
Oldest Japanese--Kazuyoshi Kondo, 68
Second Spanish woman to summit all 14--Edurne Pasaban
Third country were all 14 were summited by women--Spain
VIII--Some doubts during the season:
1. Can the summit of Juanito Oiarzabal on Annapurna be considered valid?
Juanito Oiarzabal (SPA) is one of the most amazing climbers of all time. His restless spirit is bonded to the 8000ers, and for him the end of one race was only the beginning of another. Now the Basque wants the double race--to be the first climber to summit all 14 twice. He has repeated so far EV, K2, KG, MK, CH, G1 and G2.
On April 27 he stood at the summit of Annapurna to become the second westerner to top out this peak twice. But can his summit really be considered valid?
Polemics emerged because Juanito did not come down on foot. He and Carlos Pauner were airlifted from C4 (6,900m) by chopper. In an interview with Desnivel on May 5, the Spaniard said that he went down by helicopter because of the circumstances--not out of need. He added: The chopper was there after flying over the area several times searching for Tolo, then we went down [by helicopter] because of the circumstances--not because we needed to.".
So the helicopter flight was not a rescue operation. Juanito was not injured, nor ill, nor in immediate danger. He simply was physically fatigued and opted to go out of the mountain; he could have descent on foot--"by his own means", his words-- but by chopper for comfort reasons. This event aroused the attention of those who are concerned about stats with the need to rethink this sport because helicopters are becoming quite popular on Himalaya and Karakoram--not just because of rescue operations. Several climbers are being airlifted to BCs off the mountain which means that it is time to define what climbing expeditions are considered valid and invalid.
For example, can an acclimatized climber can be airlifted to Everests South Col, go for the summit and then descend to South Col just in time to take a air ride off the mountain? And can an ABC-Summit-ABC endeavor be considered valid just to avoid the dangerous Khumbu Icefall? If Juanitos summit remains valid, this will open a new possibility for climbers. It would only be necessary to ascend the mountain to the summit. On the descent, one could be picked up at any point by a chopper and go home with the summit validated.
The debate is open.
2. Which is the standard route of Shisha Pangma?
The author was questioned by email about the regular route of Shishapangma. The smallest of all 8000ers is a very curious mountain. Looking briefly at numbers, one can assume that it is not a popular peak with only 304 people ascending. But, if included in stats for the climbers who reached the fore summit (Shishapangma Central), numbers go very high with 1,078 people ascending in total.
The difference is explained with two words: summit ridge. The regular route on the N Face (Chinese 1964) and its several variants conduct to Shishapangma Central. Since the ridge between it and the main summit is very dangerous and exposed, most of the climbers decide to stop on the lower fore summit (many of them claiming to be summiteers, in spite of everybody knowing that they are a literal ridge away from success).
Because of this in particular, several climbers have been seeking alternatives, going to the left (E Face) to avoid the ridge and proceed directly to the main summit. Therefore, new lines start to appear. The first were the Austrians Obojes and Putz (1980): Our climbers followed the Chinese first-ascent route to C4. On the summit slopes they went farther east and then climbed straight to he northeast ridge, which they followed to the top (source: AAJ). This route was repeated for the first time by all the teams in 2010, totaling 19 summits.
Iñaki Ochoa de Olza, more or less, followed this line in 2006. But he went lower on the face, below the serac band, and after it rejoined the straight line on the center to the top. This variation was repeated by Danielle Fischer (USA) and Lhakpa Rita Sherpa (NEP) in 2007. However, they mistakenly went to the Central Summit, and by Andrew Lock (AUS) and Neil Ward (UK) in 2009.
Finally, to the extreme east, after traversing the entire face to the NE Ridge, there is the 'Russian Route' of 2002 (Bogomolov and Oleynik), which has not been repeated.
On the other side of the peak, it is also possible to say that the 'British Route' on the SW Face of Shishapangma is a regular route. The highest point was reached 57 times by this line from the year 2000 onward. Therefore, 41% of the ascents were performed by it, which makes it a standard also. Of the technical routes on 8000ers this is the most popular indeed.
In conclusion, Shishapangma (like Everest and K2) has two standard routes (Chinese 64 and British 82). In the future, if the Austrian Variant (80) becomes popular, it could transform SH into the first 8000er with three regular routes (or maybe the 'Chinese Route' could even be abandoned).
3. The Romeros are the first "family" to summit Everest together?
The wonder boy Jordan Romero (USA), the youngest climber to summit Everest (May 22), made it to the top side-by-side with his father Paul Romero (USA) and his stepmother Karen Lundgren (USA). On their personal website, they proclaim themselves the first family to summit together.
The concept of family varies from country to country. The traditional is father, mother and children, but socio-affective instances can make the concept have several more variations. In 2008 the Mallorys (Canada) summited together on Everest (Dan and his sons Adam and Alan). On May 23, 2010 the Studers (Austria) topped out the Tibetan Flank of the mountain (Wilfred [father], Sylvia [mother], and Claudia [daughter]).
So, if we use the traditional definition of family, the Romeros would be the first. But if used in the non-traditional sense (socio-affective), then they are not.
Also in 2010, other families also grabbed the summit:
a. Willie Benegas and Damian Benegas--brothers
b. Lhakpa Rita and Kami Rita--brothers
c. Ruairidh Finlayson and Fionnlagh Finlayson (UK)--brothers
d. Malgorzata Pierz-Penkala and Daniel Mizera (POL)--mother and son
e. John Dahlem and Ryan Dahlem (USA)--father and son
f. Brandon Chalk and Kristine Chalk (USA)--husband and wife
g. Vladimir Fetjek and Denise Fetjek (USA)--husband and wife
h. Richard Birrer and Richard Birrer Jr. (USA)--father and son
ExWeb Note, Aug26: Juanito's summit of Annapurna is valid according to mountaineering tradition and Explorersweb. The views expressed is the author's only. Check a related story here.
NOTE: This Chronicle is based on preliminary data and is under analysis. Some numbers will be revised in the following months, with possible corrections that might need to be made.
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