After no news for almost a year, an email by Austrian Gerfried Göschl recently reached ExplorersWeb. "I read with deep interest your article about K2 double-headers," Gerfried wrote. "I did smile. Everyday I work on this idea, I train hard to fullfill exactly this dream :-)"
"I'm the only person who has done a double-header 8000er climb including Everest without porters and supplemental oxygen (together with Shisha in 2005). However, I have already failed on K2 double-headers twice. In 2007 I summited Broad Peak but turned around two times on K2 at 7,700 meters. Two years later, I climbed a new route on Nanga but again failed on K2 at 8,350 meters, due to too much snow."
"This may change in the near future. In 2011 my partner Louis Rousseau and I are planning to climb three new routes in Pakistan, starting on G1 in winter," Gerfried announced.
Some days after, the Austrian climbers provided further details, plans and views on the current situation and callout for help in Pakistan in an interview with ExWeb crew. Here is goes:
ExplorersWeb: We haven´t heard from you yet this year, what have you been up to?
Gerfried: This year I had to work on my family project: my second daughter was born a few days days ago on Monday, August 16. My wife and I are very happy and proud. Everything worked out well!
For us it was clear that I couldnt focus on climbing 8000ers during such a year. Nevertheless, I have been working hard on my future projects and have been training a lot!
Ive quit my job as a teacher to have more time for climbing, training, organizing and writing a book about my views on climbing. I could not have led a more normal life and dream so much of big mountains at the same time. I´m extremely thankful to my wife, who has supported my decision. In exchange, she just asks for help with the kids when Im at home, and to get the best out of our time together as a family--a very personal and important gift.
ExplorersWeb: So...which projects are these?
Gerfried: Its an idea Ive been nursing since 2003 and, finally, I am ready to turn it into reality. This upcoming winter I want to climb Hidden Peak (8,068m) via a new route. Just a few days ago my agent in Pakistan applied for the permit.
I looked for climbing mates, but there is not too many that are crazy enough to climb under such hard conditions. In winter it´s colder, it´s windier and the days are shorter. I guess thats why none of Pakistans 8000ers have been climbing during winter.
Finally, I managed to build a very small team, by joining forces with my regular climbing partner and very good friend Louis Rousseau from Canada, and Alex Chicon (Txicon) from the Spanish Basque Country.
After climbing together on Broad Peak, K2 (up until 8,350m), and Nanga Parbat (on a new route last year), Louis and I have a very good relationship. Forged through good times and bad, weve become close friends and trust in each other's skills and character. It makes a good background for such a difficult goal.
As for Alex, he is young, strong and experienced. He has climbed a lot with Edurne Pasaban, and is now seeking to carve his own footsteps on the highest mountains. With such mates, I am sure well make a great team and have a great time even in deserted Gasherbrum BC. Our planned route will have some technical difficulties, so hey, weve got a quiet, tough and adventurous time ahead of us.
Then in summer, theres more to come for Louis and me, aiming for an alpine style 8000er climbing project: a G2 and K2 double-header!. Although I already climbed G2 in 2003, I want to acclimatize on this mountain with Louis, in order to get the best possible training before tackling K2. In fact, our goal on K2 is to tackle a new route in pure alpine style, a worlds first. My opinion is that to climb in such style is the most demanding, sportiest and most honest method to climb a 8000er.
In summary, hopefully 2011 will be one of my greatest Himalayan years. Louis and I are already discussing future plansperhaps focusing on Nepal in 2012 :-)!
ExplorersWeb: Seen from the distance together with your own experience, how do you evaluate the Himalaya and Karakoram climbing season (women racing for the 14x8000ers, the events on Annapurna; and summer's K2 season with the loss of Fredrik and Stangl's summit)?
Gerfried: First, about the women's race, I have met Gerlinde, Edurne and Ms. Oh on several expeditions. All three are very nice and I have deep respect for them and their records. I don´t care which style they climb, its up to them how to achieve happiness and finding fulfillment in their lives. There is no need to have any critical words from my side.
In my opinion, how to climb is a personal decision. After a wide experience on 8000ers and six summits, I am now positive about what I want. I want to climb with good friends, without porters and supplemental oxygen, in a light (if possible in pure alpine) style. At the moment, Id like to look for exciting itineraries and climb my own way, rather than repeating "normal" routes.
About Annapurna, It feels great to see that a helicopter rescue at 7,000 meters is actually possible, but I hope and pray that it will not be used often.
As for the Karakoram summer, one of the most outstanding climbs this year was the crossing of Broad Peak Central and Main--my hearty congrats to the Basque team, well done!! Christian Stangls K2 summit claim is a case of investigation thus a real bad story. Details are yet unclear. Therefore, no comment from me for now.
ExplorersWeb: Pakistan is facing its worst humanitarian catastrophe ever. You are familiar with natural disasters and its consequences in Pakistan since your family travelled to the country in a aiding trip after the quake. What's your point of view on the issue? It might seem that the international community is not responding as intently like after Haiti's quake or Hurricane Katrina.
Gerfried: It´s very sad that the drama in Pakistan has not raised too much social attention. The media tends to show only the bad side of the country, but doesnt seem to care about the people who live there.
In my lectures, I try to show the 99.99% positive side of Pakistan and remark that its people are no different from any other, with the same dreams, hopes and sorrows.
Currently I'm trying to get some financial funds to help them out again, since friends in the area are telling us about the critical situation. Theres a lot to do for us, the luckier ones
Gerfried's is the first of at least three teams aiming for winter climbs in Pakistan this upcoming season. Check ExWeb for further news tomorrow.
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