Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner » 2011 K2 Expedition Leidenschaft Leben über 8000 Mon, 17 Nov 2014 09:20:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 (Deutsch) TV Hinweis für Samstag, 10. September 2011 Sat, 10 Sep 2011 15:54:41 +0000 Sorry, this entry is only available in Deutsch.

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Last update – Int. North Pillar Expedition 2011 Thu, 08 Sep 2011 08:43:53 +0000 -

Dear Friends

After almost 80 days on the ‚road’ or rather on the mountain, we arrived back home last Sunday morning. Since then, I have had time to reflect on a very intense and enriching time with extraordinary people, and I am extremely grateful for it. My life’s dream to stand on top of all 14 8,000m peaks, and after several setbacks, to reach the summit of K2, has finally come true. I would like to thank every one of you with all my heart for having believed in me – or rather us. Thank you, for being with me in your thoughts. I could really feel it and gain my energy from it.

The fact that Ralf turned back on the mountain made it possible for us to keep you informed about our summit attempt, however, now that I am back I would like to give you some more impressions.

When we left base camp to get to Camp I, it was snowing very heavily and we knew that we would have to have a rest day there. Fortunately, the sun was shining triggering many avalanches, which meant that our way to Camp II would be safer the following day. However, it started snowing again at around midnight and when we left our tents at 5am the next day, there were another 15cm of new snow on the ground. We were making good progress to the traverse but we knew that the beginning of the couloirs could be somewhat dangerous.

Just before the traverse, Ralf suddenly said to me: “Gerlinde, I am going back – this is far too exciting for me.” This was a very difficult moment for both of us. If we turned back and waited, the new snow would be too much to get any higher on the mountain. I shared my thoughts with Ralf and told him that my gut feeling was good. On the contrary, his gut feeling was completely different. We respected our individual decisions and Maxut, Vassily, Darek, Tommy and I continued climbing up the mountain. It was important for us to stay together during the ascent in order to minimise the risk.

Like many times before, the snow was very deep on the snowy ridge. Every 50m, Max, Vassily and I alternated breaking trail. As we were making pretty slow progress, we knew that we had to bivouac somewhere on the rocky shoulder. In case of emergencies, I had packed a very light two-man-tent, which we pitched late in the afternoon and tried to fit five people into it. Tommy decided to descend to Camp I in the evening and we managed to squeeze all four of us into the tiny tent. Every once in a while it stopped snowing, which made us feel more confident for the next day.

Given the circumstances, we had a pretty good night even though all of us were a bit twisted when we crawled out of the tent the next morning. We packed up all our gear and continued towards Camp II in strong winds and intermittent snowfall.

We managed two difficult traverses and each of us was secretly hoping that it would stop snowing as Charly had predicted; that the wind would abate and that we would have sunny weather to continue to Camp III the following day. Well, we were hoping….

Once we had reached Camp II, we built another platform and fixed our wind-beaten tent with strong anchors. From there, I was finally able to talk to Ralf on the radio, which we had deposited at the camp. He was very happy to hear from us. He told me that he had spoken to Charly in Innsbruck, who told him that the jet stream should move towards the North the following day. This was a huge boost for our confidence!!

Camp II at 5am. The storm was still raging outside even though we had thought the jet stream would move on. The weather normally changes very quickly but the jet stream seemed to be moving very slowly. Despite the miserable conditions, we were still planning to reach Camp III. We were breaking trail in very high winds and, like always, were working very well together. In the afternoon, we reached the site of our Camp III. We were feeling very cold and quickly pitched our tiny tents.

When I called Ralf, he was already on his way down to our advanced base camp with Tommy. They told us that the jet stream was finally supposed to die down – Maxut and Vassily only nodded nonchalantly and I have no idea what they were really thinking at this moment. However, Charly was right this time and the wind almost died down completely. The past few days were mentally pretty hard for us, which we only noticed now that the weather was improving. The atmosphere among us was quickly improving and everyone seemed to be more relaxed. Ralf ensured us that the jet stream would have swept away the new snow and that we would not have to break much trail further up on the mountain – and he proved to be right. We made pretty good progress and reached Camp IV in the early afternoon. We quickly pitched our tents, boiled water and had intense discussions. How would we proceed?

We knew that the long traverse just before the Japanese Couloirs would be another huge challenge. Whether we would make good progress in the current snow conditions was pretty uncertain. In case of emergency, I packed my tiny tent, a pot and a stove, and Maxut and Darek put a gas cylinder each into their rucksacks. We were also carrying 50m of rope each. The traverse was pretty delicate and we only could make slow progress. Ralf was watching us with his binoculars and I was very happy that I was able to consult him by radio every once in a while; especially when we reached the point, where we were not sure from where we should best traverse the steep slope.

Ralf was able to see the couloirs from a completely different perspective and discovered a crevasse, which went from the right edge of the couloirs to the left. He advised us to move directly underneath the crevasse in order to avoid possible avalanches. We followed his advice and were able to proceed safely across the slope. Time moved on quickly and even though we were all pretty exhausted, we were feeling well and decided not to go back down to Camp IV. Just underneath an icy ledge at about 8,300m, we dug a small platform on the 50 degree slope that barely fit our small tent. We only needed it for a few hours though as we were planning to continue up the mountain around midnight. With the additional volume of our downsuits it was even more of a squeeze inside the tent than at our bivouac at the rocky shoulder, however, we were still able to melt some snow to drink. It was only for a few hours….The night was bitterly cold and was increasingly getting colder. In order to control the feeling, I was concentrating on each of my body parts. Despite the fact that we were all very tired, none of us were able to sleep a wink that night. We shared a few sips of hot water and the four of us ate one bowl of soup together. We supported each other and despite the difficult circumstances, we were all immensely tolerant. We all had a huge common goal, which we could only reach together – and only together.

At 1.30am, Maxut, Vassily and I started our climb, however, after about 50 vertical metres we turned back as we could no longer feel our fingers and toes. We waited until 7.30am, and once we could see when the first sunrays would reach us we started off again. We had a lot of snow from the very beginning and climbed along the very left edge of the Japanese Couloirs. We gained altitude pretty slowly. Ralf, who I was in constant radio contact with, was encouraging us: “Once you get to the ramp that leads to the summit ridge, the snow will be much better.” This statement kept us going, however, when we got there we realised that the complete opposite was the case. We literally got stuck in the snow. We tried to climb into three different directions, but in vain. The snow was hip-deep with a hard crust on top of it. We broke trail for ten steps each, gaining about 10 vertical metres each time, and then changed. Could it be that K2 was refusing us again? Vassily, Maxut and I looked at each other but no-one said a word. Metre by metre we were working hard until we reached a rocky area, which was much easier terrain. All of a sudden I could feel an incredible surge of energy. When I reached the summit ridge, I contacted Ralf. The only thing I could hear him say was: “….you will make it, you have almost made it.”
When Vassily reached me, he asked me whether we could make it.
The ridge leading to the summit was completely wind-swept and when we were just below the summit, we could look down towards the bottleneck on the other side. I stopped for a minute – Frederik felt very close at this moment.

While Vassily was waiting for Maxut, I continued towards the summit. The very last steps were the most special and most intense moments I have felt on this expedition. I had fifteen minutes on my own on the summit and I wanted to share these moments with Ralf. This day, the amazing evening light with almost no wind in the air were a huge present.

I was thanking the universe, the creation, Ralf and everyone, who was with us in thoughts. I am literally unable to put my joy into words. First, Maxut and Vassily arrived, closely followed by Darek. At around 7pm after we had taken our summit photos, we started our descent. When we left our bivouac in the morning, we already knew that we would be descending in the dark. We all had spare batteries for our head torches, and the most important thing was to keep up our concentration until we get to camp. The slightest mistake could be fatal. We came off the summit ridge just when the sun was going down and disappeared into the night. Vassily and I reached our bivouac at about 11.30pm and I immediately turned on the stove to melt some snow. Maxut and Darek arrived a little bit later. Vassily and Maxut decided to stay the night at the bivouac – Darek and I carried on to Camp IV.

When Maxut and Vassily arrived the next morning, we descended together to Camp I. The snow was still very deep making our progress, once again, very slow. We finally reached Camp I at 3 o’clock in the morning. As Ralf had already booked the camel herders for the next day, we had to be at the Chinese Base Camp the following evening. The next day, we carried our heavy rucksacks down to our deposit camp, which we reached at 10am – Ralf and Tommy met us there shortly after. The joy and relief that I felt when Ralf took me into his arms are almost impossible to describe….The burden of the last days were lifted off my shoulders – we had made it. My life’s dream has come true…

Once again, THANKS A MILLION to all of you for being there!

I would also like to thank my sponsors, who have generously supported me over the years.
THANKS to our friend and meteorologist, Dr Charly Gabl!
THANKS to the whole National Geographic team!
THANKS to our fantastic home team – Kathrin and Nicola

With all my heartfelt regards!

© TEXT G. Kaltenbrunner; TRANSLATION: Billi Bierling

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Gerlinde and Ralf in “das aktuelle sportstudio” on ZDF Mon, 05 Sep 2011 18:28:54 +0000 -


Find “das aktuelle sportstudio” with Gerlinde and Ralf here – with english subtitles!

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Brief update, 2 September 2011 Fri, 02 Sep 2011 12:22:57 +0000 -

Gerlinde and Ralf on their way home!

Dear Friends,

We have good news for you – Gerlinde and Ralf have arrived in Kashgar in China, from where they will be travelling home via several stops.

If you are interested in hearing more about their expedition, keep Saturday evening free and switch on your television:

Gerlinde and Ralf will be the special guests in „das aktuelle sportstudio“ on ZDF on Saturday, 03.09.2011 at 11pm

This will be the first time the couple will talk about their K2 expedition on television since their return.

Warm Regards from the Home Team!

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Brief Update – 26 August 2011 Fri, 26 Aug 2011 07:06:46 +0000 -

Summit Photos

Gerlinde and Ralf, Maxut, Vassiliy, Darek and Tommy had a very long day yesterday as they went all the way down to Chinese Base Camp, where they arrived late and exhausted.

But before they switched off the base camp lights, they were able to send as the summit photos we have so eagerly been waiting for!

Warm regards and have a great weekend!

The home team of Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Ralf Dujmovits

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Brief Update, 25 August 2011 – Local time in the morning Thu, 25 Aug 2011 06:34:30 +0000

A big hello at deposit camp

We are very relieved to report that Tommy and Ralf were able to meet Gerlinde, Maxut, Vassiliy und Darek at the deposit camp, which is at the end of the heavily crevassed glacier.
They are on their way down to the base camp and after a short rest will continue to the Chinese base camp.
The camels are already waiting there and the team will start their way back into civilisation tomorrow.

We are sending our heartfelt congratulations to the whole team, especially gerlinde for their amazing success.

Warm Regards

Gerlinde’s and Ralf’s Home Team

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Brief Update, 24 August 2011 – Team still descending Wed, 24 Aug 2011 06:05:09 +0000  

++  Update 10pm local time – Between Camp II and Camp I

Ralf has just spoken to Gerlinde. The four climbers are still on the descent between Camp II and Camp I and had already reached the rock shoulder, which means they have passed the most difficult sections.

We hope the rest of the descent will go well and they will be able to spend a good night at Camp I.

Ralf Dujmovits and the Home Team


10am local time

At midnight last night, Gerlinde, and a little later also Darek, reached Camp IV at 8,000m. Vassily and Maxut stayed the night at their bivouac at 8,300m, from where they left at 7am. They have now almost reached Camp IV.

Today, they are planning to descend to Camp I at 5,300m, where they will spend one last night at the foot of the North Pillar before they will go down to our deposit camp tomorrow. I am planning to go up and meet them there.

From there, it will probably take another three hours to carry our heavy gear across the dry K2 glacier to our base camp, which Tommy and I have almost completely dismantled.

Once at base camp, we will pack up our last belongings and go down to the Chinese base camp (about 3 ½ hours), where our camel herders are already waiting for us.

These are our preliminary plans, however, the four of them have to get down safely first. We wish them all the necessary strength and concentration, which they certainly need to manage the last 2,500m of their descent.

I will be in touch again as soon as Gerlinde, Maxut, Vassiliy and Darek have arrived at Camp I.

Ralf Dujmovits from K2 base camp

© TEXT R.Dujmovits; TRANSLATION: Billi Bierling

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Brief Update 23 August, 2011 Tue, 23 Aug 2011 04:29:16 +0000  


++  6th and last Update for today, 10.30pm local time  – Team at Bivouac

Gerlinde has just contacted Ralf by radio and told him that all four climbers had reached last night’s bivouac. While Maxut, Vassiliy and Darek are still deciding whether to stay there or go down to Camp IV, Gerlinde has already started her descent to Camp IV. 

We are still keeping our fingers crossed and wish them a safe descent.

Gerlinde’s and Ralf’s home team


++ 5th Update 8:30pm local time – Team on Descent!

Ralf has just reported from base camp that he could see the four lights of the climbers at the end of the ramp, just above the Japanese Couloirs. 


++ 4th Update – The whole team reaches the summit!

Maxut, Vassiliy and Darek have also reached the top of K2 and were able to share the summit success with Gerlinde. The four of them are now on their way down. 

Gerlinde is over the moon and can’t believe how lucky they were to reach the summit TOGETHER in this fantastic weather, despite the difficult conditions during the ascent. 

Gerlinde told Ralf on the radio that she would like to thank everyone, who was with her in their thoughts and kept their fingers crossed for her climb. She would also like to thank everyone for their mental support, which she could clearly feel and literally carried her to the summit.

However, despite this amazing achievement, we all know that the team still has to reach their camp safely and we wish them all the best for their descent.

Warm Regards

Gerlinde’s and Ralf’s Home Team


++  3rd Update  SUMMIT!!!

At 6:18pm local time, Gerlinde reached the summit of K2. Maxut and Vassiliy are also nearly there and Darek is close behind. 


++ 2nd Update  – 4:15pm local time

I was able to speak to Gerlinde over the radio at 3pm. They had just arrived at the ramp, which leads from the Japanese Couloirs to the summit ridge and progress was very slow due to the deep snow. At one point we could see from base camp how the four climbers were going in three different directions to break trail, however, all of them had to start from scratch as the snow was just too deep.

It is now 4pm and the two climbers who are breaking trail (I cannot tell who) are making much better progress and have almost reached the top of the ramp, which means they are almost at the summit ridge. The summit ridge is a rather wide slope that, according to the German Aerospace Centre, ends up in a basin which leads to the final slope.

Quite a lot of time has past but there is still not a cloud in the sky and as far as I can see from down here, the weather is still relatively calm.

Lets keep our fingers crossed! On behalf of Gerlinde, I would like to thank everyone, who is with the team in thoughts and has sent their best wishes – it gives a lot of strength and support, which is still necessary.

Many thanks and warm regards from base camp

Ralf Dujmovits

 Radio call local time 4:35pm – Local time
Gerlinde and Vassily have arrived at the end of the Japanese Couloirs at the start of the summit ridge. Maxut and Darek are close behind.


++ 1st  Update  – 11:15am local time

I have just spoken to Gerlinde by radio – she was at an altitude of about 8,400m. All four climbers are severely suffering from the cold, however, they are expecting to be climbing in the sun in about three quarters of an hour.

Then they will also reach the angular couloirs, which leads to the summit ridge and they are expecting better snow conditions there. Bearing all that in mind, the four are pretty confident. Gerlinde said that she was feeling good, given the circumstances.

We are keeping our fingers crossed!

Ralf Dujmovits as well as the home team


Start towards the Summit

After Gerlinde, Vassiliy, Maxut and Darek had spent an icy and bittercold night at 8,300m, they were getting ready for a 1am start in their cramped bivouac. Shortly after their departure at about 1.30am, they started having problems with their hands due to the intense cold. Even though the gradient above the bivouac is ‘only’ 45° – the climbers still have to stand on their forefeet most of the time. This reduces the blood circulation and with temperatures of -25°C leads to very cold feet. On the 8th day of continuous climbing, it is very difficult to dry the innerboots – no matter how good the boots are. Furthermore, after 2 1/2 months of intense and exhausting climbing the body fat has been reduced to a minimum, which means it is more susceptible to the extreme cold.

The four climbers decided to return to their bivouc-tent to warm up, which was definitely the right decision. At 7.30am they left again for the summit and have made pretty good progress since then.

Once again, the day started cloudless and according to Charly Gabl, our friend and meteorologist in Innsbruck, this should continue all day long. The wind also seems to have died down completely. Last night, when they were melting snow to brew tea, it was completely still. Wednesday is supposed to be another beautiful day, which means it is also looking good for the descent.

As soon as we have news I’ll get back to you,

Ralf Dujmovits from K2-basecamp




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Latest news from K2-North-Pillar-Expedition Mon, 22 Aug 2011 10:12:11 +0000 22/08/2011

Latest news from K2-North-Pillar-Expedition

Yesterday evening, our four friends took the difficult decision to use today as a rest and fixing day. They spent a very cold night at 8000 m and this morning at 6:30 a.m. they started to fix some rope along the traverse into the Japanese Couloirs and further up this couloirs.

According to Gerlinde, they found lots of powder snow, which was covered by a crust and waist-deep in some places. Their progress was very slow and now – as I write these lines at 01:00p.m. – they have only covered about 150 – 180 vertical meters.

The weather is perfect – not one single cloud in the sky – and there is just a light breeze.

In the attached pictures you see Maxut, Vassiliy and Gerlinde climbing between the seracs on the right side of the couloirs. Darek cannot be seen in the photograph – he is about 50 m behind.

In case they start tomorrow morning, the trail will be broken, the rope will be fixed and the progress to their highpoint will be much quicker. They are hoping to find less snowdrifts and better conditions on the left side of the couloirs, which is much longer in the shade.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed – we all so wish that they can make it safely.

Ralf Dujmovits


Update 22.08.2011 – 20:30 local time

After a long and exhausting ascent which was difficult due to deep snow Gerlinde, Maxut, Vassiliy and Darek decided to spend the night at their highest point at about 8,300m in a bivouac. They found a perfect bivouac place at the last serac in the Japanese Couloirs. They dug a platform for their tiny tent and are enjoying the last sunbeams inside, eating tomato soup. They are planning to leave at midnight tonight local time and are hoping that they will successfully climb the last 300m despite the difficult snow conditions.

Kind Regards
The team at base camp as well as Gerlinde´s and Ralf’s home team


Update 22.08.2011 – 20:30 local time

After a long and exhausting ascent which was difficult due to deep snow Gerlinde, Maxut, Vassiliy and Darek decided to spend the night at their highest point at about 8,300m in a bivouac. They found a perfect bivouac place at the last serac in the Japanese Couloirs. They dug a platform for their tiny tent and are enjoying the last sunbeams inside, eating tomato soup. They are planning to leave at midnight tonight local time and are hoping that they will successfully climb the last 300m despite the difficult snow conditions.

Kind Regards

The team at base camp as well as Gerlinde´s and Ralf’s home team

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Brief Update 21 August, 2011 – Camp IV Sun, 21 Aug 2011 12:47:23 +0000 21.08.2011


Gerlinde, Maxut, Vassiliy and Darek reached Camp IV (about 8,000m) at 4.30pm this afternoon. The weather was perfect the whole day, however, they had to break trail in deep snow. Their equipment is dry and the weather forecast is looking good for tomorrow. They are all in good spirits and are feeling pretty confident about their summit attempt.

Please, continue to keep your fingers crossed!

Warm Regards

Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner’s and Ralf Dujmovits’ home team

Update 7:30 pm local time

The team has decided not to go for the summit tomorrow but to fix the traverse from the camp to the Japanese couloirs. They also want to check out the snow conditions in the couloirs due to expected snowdrifts.

They are planning on having a “rest day” tomorrow and try for the summit on Tuesday. The weather forecast remains good, also for Tuesday.

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