(Tina Sjogren) This Pakistan season is bound to be different. All kinds of climbers are assembling, each with their unique hopes and aspirations.
With a troubled past but huge dreams for her future (and the closest Karakoram will ever get to 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo') Swedish Anneli Wester is extraordinary even for this wild side of Himalaya. Crowd funding and gamification built into her expedition money raise, she plans to sleep as close to the heavens as she can get.
ExplorersWeb caught up with the mountaineer, among the first to arrive in Islamabad this weekend.
ExplorersWeb: You camped on the summit of Elbrus(5642m), Muztagh Ata (7546m) and now you plan to pitch a tent on top of Gasherbrum II (8036m) - what made you go for sky camping?
Anneli: It actually started by focusing on possibilities for me to climb a mountain. I used to have very poor legs and I couldn’t walk long distances. I had to shorten the distance between camps, and also between high camp and the summit.
It was also a matter of safety, there is a lot of theft in the mountains and I was afraid someone would steel my gear if I left it in the tent when going for the summit. So one day I started to play with the thought of carrying everything up with me and it didn’t take long until I realized this is the way to do it.
ExplorersWeb: You plan an alpine style attempt (no previous camps - no supplementary O2 - no porters) the way you did Muztagh Ata last year. How will you acclimatize and how many days do you think you will need to spend from BC?
Anneli: Yes, my plan is to go alpine style. This time I will acclimatize on another mountain before I set off for the long hike into basecamp. I will see what I can do but I hope to be acclimatized to about 6500 meters.
After acclimatization I will rest up for a few days in some nice village, heal my fingers and cracked up lips, and regain my strength with some good food and exercise.
Then I’m off for the hike into basecamp and straight up for the summit. I’m stronger now than last time so I think I will manage to set off from basecamp with 36 kg in my backback. That will give me food and fuel for about 16 days.
To prevent altitude sickness I usually prefer to go very slow instead of light and fast, but I’ll see when I get there. I might go lighter and faster this time, but still slow enough to allow no more than very slight symptoms of altitude illness.
ExplorersWeb: What about fixed ropes - will you bring your own or team up with other expeditions? Or try go without?
Anneli I will bring about 15 m of rope and when I need to be roped up I put it up, go back and bring It with me, set it up again etc. This is my plan but I am very humble about it. This is my first attempt on an 8000 meter and if I find that my approach feels unsafe I might find other ways to play.
I really want to camp on the summit of an 8000 meter mountain entirely by my own doing. If I need to join others for a while this time, and that includes using their rope, I will but then I'll return and try again.
ExplorersWeb: You have a novel approach to sponsorship, fans buy "meters" on the mountain and get their name on your pants - tell us about it! Is it working?
Anneli Yes, this is correct. I “sell” the meters. The mountain is 8000 m and I’ll get about 11 500 US dollars if I sell all of them and that’s enough for my trip.
Everybody get their own meters and can win products and services from my sponsors. Depending on how many meters they help me with they get other things as well. Hundred meters will buy them a card with a picture hopefully taken on 'their section' after the trip along with tickets for my motivational speaks.
I started this long time ago but events in my life made it impossible for me to promote it until now. I came to the idea of letting people have their name on my pants just recently and this was very popular. They can also get their name on my tent. It costs 150 m, about 200 US$, to get the name on both my pants and my tent.
ExplorersWeb: Your website is very personal. You have the usual media links but you also describe the dark sides of your life, such as hurting yourself as a teen during some bad years. What happened and why?
Anneli I had been trough bad abuse when growing up, and my mum was a bit of a broken soul, and my reaction to this was to hurt myself. I burned my self so badly that I have lost 6 fingers. Mistreatment from the health care made it even worse. After seven years I started my struggle back to life. I was in a terrible condition, both physically and mentally and every day was a battle. As I said, I’m very creative and have now put all my energy and focus on life. Slowly, slowly I have found ways to cope.
It's a miracle that I survived those years, but it's an even greater miracle where in life I'm today. I use the same methods in climbing, or whatever I do out there, as I did returning back to life. I’m still disabled in many ways, both physically and mentally, but focusing on possibilities and what I can do instead of what I can’t do it seems to me like there are no limits out there.
ExplorersWeb: How does it affect your climbing?
Anneli I'm no different than anyone else, I watch and see what I think I can manage and then I go for that. I mean, how many times have you wondered what you could do if you had three arms and fifteen fingers? It would certainly be easier to climb if you had that.
My limits are different from others but I don’t think about what is causing them, I don’t think much about limits at all, I think possibilities, what I can do.
If everybody had hands like me we would still climb Everest and fly to the moon, we would only do it in a different way. So that's how I do it, in a different way. I just have to figure out how.
ExplorersWeb: When do you expect to reach BC?
Anneli I don't have a set schedule, probably mid July.
A lawyer with a Masters degree Anneli is a full time adventurer today. She lives in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Hobbies: It feels like I’m doing hobbies all the time!
Favo music: It's changing fast, right now I like music like Don’t stop believin with Journey, Deaming People with Jay smith, Set Fire to the Rain by Adele, International love by Pitbull, Walk by Foo Fighters.
Food: Anneli’s special - unpasteurized milk, banana, wild blueberries and two raw eggs in the mixer, really nice after some hard work!
Movie: The empire of the sun
Latest read book: A educational book about Islam by Anne Sofie Roald.
Website: I'm hanging quite a lot on Facebook.
Best climb this far: Everything I learned from my two trips to Muztagh Ata is really good.
Resume: I have not collected a resume because it is focusing too much on achievements which I don’t like. I just want to enjoy life and focus on the future, not the past.
Dream destination: I don’t dream much about where I want to go, in my mind such dreams quickly turn into plans. But according to what's still on the dreaming level, well, those strange super deluxe hotels one can see in pictures that don’t look real, with crazy pools high up in the sky or whatever, with a good friend after a climb, that would be madly nice!
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