Part IV: BD athlete David Göttler summits Nuptse via the North Ridge
BD athlete David Göttler, partnered with Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, summited Nupste (7864m) on May 17 via the North Ridge (for the ridge’s third ascent, and first since 1996). A fantastic achievement and all of us at BD send out congratulations to David and Gerlinde. Below is David’s fourth and final expedition dispatch, which he sent us from basecamp shortly after safely completely the arduous descent. (Be sure to check out his previous dispatches for the full expedition story: Part I, Part II, and Part III).
What a feeling!
I don't know where to begin ... so much happened the last few days. So many moments, situations, impressions are widly flying through my head. The descent is still totally present. No fixed ropes, no one else on the mountain, that means belay down everything. Meter by meter, climb everything down backwards or rappel. Always stay focused, never make a mistake. Tedious, very tedious, but better a bit slower than too fast once!
What is continuing here and now in this moment, back at basecamp, is my permanent grin and the euphoria in me, in my face. Whatever it means, to have been standing all the way up there, for an unbelievably short moment compared to all that time! Up there, on the summit of Nuptse, together with Gerlinde, with absolutely super weather, warm, no wind, on this tiny point, a view that felt like over the entire world! A moment that makes you forget all the exertion!And the exertion was great this time. Somehow my legs were so heavy, so hard was every step upwards, I kept repeating like a mantra “please let me have enough power yet.” How happy was I each time when it was Gerlinde's turn to break trail. Even though there is a lot of bare ice this year, we had to break trail continuously after the lower third. Gerlinde is irreplaceable here. It is so easy, relaxed and perfect to be on the mountain with her. Without many words we take our turns breaking trail or leading, digging out a tent platform or pitching a tent quickly in the wind and driving snow and having melted that first liter of water right now. All that works almost blindly and no matter what the job is, everyone does it. Everyone knows that everything is important and contributes to the whole. And maybe that's the only way we could reach our goal.
We went to Camp 2 on the 14th and to the base of the buttress the day after. Because the wind was supposed to stay strong, according to an updated weather forecast via Ralf and the sat phone, we decided to try for a plan that included a second bivouac about half way up the buttress. As it turned out we made the right decision, because we might not have made it in one push as Ralf and Axel Schlönvogt in 1996 did. So, having reduced our gear once again, we started from the foot of the buttress at 6800 metres on the 16. At first you climb a kind of Bianco Grat, just steeper, to a small rock barrier. We are making good time, simul-climbing everything, protected with ice screws or pickets. The rock barrier climbs well and above it the terrain angles back a bit, but that means that the post holing starts. That day we make it to 7250 metres, where we pitch our small tent. One of those eagles' nests again! Starting at basecamp, over Camps 1 and 2 all the way to Camp 3 and the South Col, we can watch all the activity and insanity on Lhotse and Everest. We can see into Tibet, and Everest and Lhotse are really close. A vista I could enjoy insatiably!On the 17th we start with the first sun. It's still bitterly cold. Slowly (I feel really infinitely slow here today!) we fake our way through the rock islands, staying on snow all the way. On the last meters I'm not sure if they lead to the highest point. All we can see from below is the tip of the snow ridge against the sky. We don't know if the ridge carries on further beyond. I wish so much that it's the summit. I tell myself: please don't be disappointed if it goes on further, if we're not all the way up yet. Just before we can see everything, I stop once again for a last breather, then the last steps up to the ridge and... I let out a scream, filled with relief, joy, happiness, gratitude—I pack everything into it! This is it, the summit, only depth below us, only sky above us! Thank you!
Now we're finally going home, to Carine, who once again supported me so much, tolerating everything and having to spend many an anxious night. Infinite thanks for that. Thanks to my family and friends for the support and thanks to all you readers for keeping your fingers crossed! It more than helped.
And last but not least: Thanks to my sponsors Lowa, The North Face and Black Diamond Equipment! Without their support all of this would be very hard to do. I look forward to working with them more in the future! But this is enough for today. I'm off home!
With my last regards from base camp I wish everyone a good time.