ExWeb interview - Ralf Dujmovits about Everest: "A summit on O2 shouldn't be considered a real summit"

Posted: Jul 13, 2006 09:30 am EDT

(MountEverest.net) According to stats, German climber Ralf Dujmovits has summited 11 out of 14 8000ers, including Kangchenjunga, whose summit he reached with fiancée Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner earlier this year. However, Ralf doesnt entirely agree with official summit logs: He doesnt really think he fairly summited a mountain back in 1992 a peak called Everest.

I climbed on O2 - I shall return to Everest

Personally as a climber, I'm convinced that we shouldn't count climbs with supplementary oxygen as a real summit climb, he told ExplorersWeb. That's why I will return to Everest - my climb in 1992 was with O2. I had reached close to the South Summit without O2 a few days before; but had to turn back due to cold feet.

I deeply respect everyone who climbs this big mountain - with or without O2. But I also see that an increasing number of people are trying to climb Everest with almost no climbing experience, or not fit enough to perform correctly in difficult circumstances. Both are essential conditions in mountain climbing.

Recognition to summits on O2 will result in more deaths

That is the reason why we shouldnt give any recognition to climbs with supplementary O2: To prevent these people to be on the slopes of Everest. Or we will have to face the fact of more and more people dying on Everest - I'm very sure about that.

I can't comment on the recent situation as I wasn't there. We moved to Everest South side after climbing Kanchenjunga, hoping to give Lhotse a try. By the time we reached BC most groups had already climbed the mountain.

Ralf is also the owner of Amical Alpin, a major expedition outfitter. Amical launches yearly expeditions on lesser 8000ers, but never on Everest or K2. We don't offer the high 8000 meter peaks as the clients usually would need oxygen to reach the summit, he said, "Amical clients may reach the summit or not, but they will climb without O2."

Three good reasons not to guide on Everest

In a previous interview with ExplorersWeb, Ralf mentioned three reasons why Amical will never guide clients on Everest:

"First: I accept everybody who climbs with the help of O2, but neither my company nor I want to offer climbs with supplementary 02," Ralf said. "Depending on technological help is not climbing by fair means."

"Second: History shows that even professional guides can do a good and safe job only up to 8200 m. Running short of oxygen or having technical or support problems causes, and will continue to cause, tragedies."

"Third: After having slept at 8000 m without oxygen even the strongest guides are working at their limits. In 1994 I guided a successful expedition to K2 without O2; in 1992 I spent three nights at Everests South Col without 02 and climbed up to Everest South Summit without 02 - I guess I know what I'm talking about."

Ralf Dujmovits started climbing at the age of 7 at The Battert, a climbing school near Baden-Baden (Southern Germany). Currently he is in charge of Amical Alpine, and has summited 10 out of 14 8000ers: Dhaulagiri in 1990, Everest in 1992, K2 in 1994, Cho Oyu (1) in 1995, Shisha Pangma Central Summit in 1996, Shisha Pangma Main Summit in 1997, Cho Oyu (2) in 1998, Broad Peak in 1999, GII in 2000, Nanga Parbat in 2001, Annapurna I in 2004, GI in 2004. He also traversed Shisha Pangma in 2005.

In later years, Dujmovits has climbed with girlfriend Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner. Gerlinde is one of the most proficient high altitude climbers today and the female climber with most 8000er summited: 9. Japanese Hirotaka Takeuchi usually teams up with them.

After Shisha Pangma, in Spring 2005 Ralf attempted to reach Everest for real: With Hiro and Gerlinde, he attempted the Supercouloir in alpine-style. The attempt was thwarted due to Hirotaka suffering from Cerebral Edema.

On May 14 this year, the trio summited Kangchenjunga and attempted a fast ascent on Lhotse, the latter finally thwarted at 8400m due to bad conditions on the peak.


Image of Ralf Dujmovits on the upper sections of Lhotse earlier this year, by Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, courtesy of Amical Alpin (click to enlarge).
Ralf and Gerlinde share an impressive climbing resume and a commitment to climb without supplementary O2. Image of the couple on the summit of Kangchenjunga earlier this year by Veikka Gustafsson, courtesy of Amical Alpin (click to enlarge).

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