Words from Wik

Sharing my Experiences

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ueli Steck – My Hero

I wanted to share with you guys some amazing climbing as done by Ueli Steck. I first heard of him from the movie “The Swiss Machine”, which we saw at the Best of Banff Mountain Film Festival when it made its stop in Calgary. I will not talk much about that but give you two clips to watch that show a part of that movie. Make sure to go full screen, set it to the highest quality, and enjoy the climbing along with the amazing cinematography:

Part 1:

Part 2:

While finding these clips online I found myself watching his climb over and over again, totally mesmerized. Crazy what this guy can do.

So now, why is he my hero? I don’t plan on doing anything like the above, don’t worry. What is inspiring is his most recent climbing attempt, where he was trying to climb 3 8000m mountains in one season, all alpine style, all without oxygen. There is no movie about this (yet, as far as I know), but he had some pretty great write-ups about it. I might talk a bit more about it in another entry, but if you wanted to read his first-hand account, you can find the entry on Shishapangma here, about Cho Oyu here, and Everest here. If you read just one, I think the Shishapangma one is the best. Crazy dude!

Update: Just found a couple more movies that show his preparation for climbing these 8000ers, find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

posted by Wiktor at 21:49  

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Looking Back at Cho Oyu

Now that I’m back in Calgary I have some time to write down things I wanted to pass along before. One of the things I found interesting was the type of people that were in our group, to maybe illustrate how diverse we were, let me list the professions of all the clients attempting the summit: Lawyer, Farmer, Engineer, Military man, Ex-Bouncer, Diving Instructor, School Teacher, Trainer/Public Speaker, Unemployed.

One of the best moments of the trip for me, other than the summit, was when we were leaving for the summit. Coming out of my tent to a sky full of stars that almost lit the way, walking in the absolutely still air to the path, then starting my journey up with my headlamp lighting the way, oxygen on my face and flowing, giving me the life and energy that I need. It was a very cool experience that made me smile, though it was full of many unknowns: first time on oxygen, first time on this path, and the unknown of what the night’s hard work will bring.

Summit day for me was very long. At about 1:34 am I started my stop watch, and stopped it seven hours and six minutes later on the summit. About 50 minutes I spent on the summit, and then it took me 3h10m to get back down to Camp 3 where the day started. Here some people rested, laid in the tents, made some water. I still had half a liter of water left of the two liters I started with, so I just spent 50 minutes packing all my stuff, and continued down to Camp 2. From Camp 3 to Camp 2 took me 30 minutes (compare that with 4h15m on the way up!) as it is a pretty short distance, plus I slid down half the way on my bum! Reason being was I still had my down suit on and I started getting hot, so rather than stop on the semi-steep slope and start undressing, I decided to slide the rest of the way down! Best idea I ever had!

Packing the rest of my stuff at Camp 2 took an hour, after which I was the first one to set off for Camp 1. This part of the trip took two and a half hours, at which point the walking part of my day was over.

Add all that up and it means in 16 hours of hard work, breathing some of the driest air possible, I drank less than two liters of water. (For comparison, when resting at ABC I would easily drink 5 or 6+ liters of water in a day.) What this means is that upon reaching Camp 1 was the point where I had lost the most weight. My estimate is about 10% of my body weight, so 20 lbs or 9 kilos (most others on the trip estimated similar percentages). I would say 5 pounds of that came back with simply hydrating over the next few days. Another 5 came back after eating big back in Kathmandu. The other 10 I am still missing and working at getting back, and since most of that is probably muscle it will take some time.

It was nice to get back to Kathmandu where there are enough places that serve western food that you can really get whatever you may want. After losing as much weight as we had, everyone eats quite big on every meal. For me, a lover of food, it is one of the fun parts of mountaineering! I remember one breakfast I had a big plate of eggs, beans, cheese and salsa, prepared as Huevos Rancheros. Then I had dessert of apple pie with ice cream. Dessert after breakfast! It was absolutely lovely.

Now I’m back in Calgary and I am slowly trying to get back into the groove here. But it’s tough. For some reason I feel a little bit weird here. People ask me about my trip and I have a hard time just talking about my trip, there’s so much to say. Then they ask what’s next, while honestly I’m just trying to let this trip sink in, which I don’t think has happened yet. But I’m sure after a couple of weeks it’ll all be back to normal, as is always the case with life, so I’m not too worried.

That’s about all I wanted to get off my mind. I posted some more pictures, bigger than Facebook allows, you can find them here. Take care!

posted by Wiktor at 5:27  

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cho Oyu Summit Reached – 8200m

The summit was reached on September 27 by our group, at 8:40 am Tibetan time by me! We are now safely back in Kathmandu, have a look at the few pictures I posted on facebook by clicking here. See you all back home soon!

posted by Wiktor at 12:33  

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Climbing the next one…

So with just barely having caught up on writing about my last summit on Aconcagua, I am heading off to climb yet another mountain! This one is, believe it or not, is higher than the last one. I’m flying to Kathmandu in Nepal and we’ll drive to China (Tibet) to attempt a climb of the sixth tallest mountain in the world, called Cho Oyu. It’s 8200m tall, 20km west of Everest (aparently you get some good views of Everest from the top!), if you want any more details just check Wikipedia here. I have been getting all my stuff ready in the last few weeks, have been training for months, and just lately (or maybe a long time ago?) I started eating like a pig to gain some weight so that I have more of it to lose while on the mountain.

I will post another entry in the next few days with a link to the SummitClimb News website, where they will post regular updates on our progress as we call in dispatches from a Sat phone while on the mountain. In the meantime, I will post a picture and below it our proposed itinerary, so if you want to know you’ll have a bit of an idea of what I am getting myself into. Enjoy the smileys!

Trying on the gear

Arriving in Kathmandu:

Sep 1) Arrive Kathmandu (1,300 metres/4,300 feet).
Sep 2) Hand over passport to China Embassy, begin processing of Chinese Visa. Training and equipment review at hotel in Kathmandu.
Sep 3) Receive processed visa from Chinese embassy. We may choose to depart Kathmandu for Tibet on this day;

Driving to Basecamp:

Sep 4) Begin Expedition! Bus to Zhangmu, Tibet (2500 metres/8,250 feet); drive to Nyalam (3,750 metres/12,400 feet).
Sep 5) Rest & Acclimatization in Nyalam (3,750 metres/12,400 feet). Walk in the surrounding hills, hang out in the Tashi Amdo teashop. Hotel.
Sep 6) Drive to Tingri at 4,300 meters/14,100 feet. Hotel.
Sep 7) Rest & Acclimatization in Tingri at 3900 metres/12,900 feet. Hotel.
Sep 8) Drive to Chinese Base, 4900 metres/16,000 feet, Camp.
Sep 9) Rest & Acclimatization at Chinese Base.

Moving to Advanced Basecamp:

Sep 10) Walk halfway to advanced base camp, camp at 5100 metres/16,800 feet.
Sep 11) Rest day & Acclimatization at “interim-camp” at 5100 metres/16,800 feet.
Sep 12) Walk to advanced base camp at 5600 metres/18,500 feet. Rest.
Sep 13) Rest & Acclimatization, training, and organization at advanced base camp.

Climbing Cho Oyu:

Sep 14) Walk to camp 1 at 6200 metres/20,450 feet, return to advanced base camp.
Sep 15) Rest in advanced base camp.
Sep 16) Walk to camp 1, Sleep.
Sep 17) Explore the route to Camp 2 at 6700 metres/22,100 feet. Return to advanced base camp.
Sep 18) Rest in advanced base camp.
Sep 19) Rest in advanced base camp.
Sep 20) Walk to camp 1 and sleep there.
Sep 21) Walk to camp 2 and sleep there.
Sep 22) Explore the route to camp 3 at 7400 metres/24,400 feet. Return to advanced base camp. Rest.
Sep 23) Rest in advanced base camp.
Sep 24) Rest in advanced base camp.
Sep 25) Rest in advanced base camp.
Sep 26) Walk to camp 1 and sleep there.
Sep 27) Walk to camp 2 and sleep there.
Sep 28) Walk to camp 3 and sleep there.

Summit Days:

Sep 29) Summit attempt.
Sep 30) Summit attempt.
Oct 1) Summit attempt.
Oct 2) Summit attempt.
Oct 3) Summit attempt, descend to camp 2.

Going Home:

Oct 4) Descend to advanced base camp, pack and prepare to depart.
Oct 5) Final packing, walk down from advanced base camp to Chinese base, drive to Tingri and spend the night.
Oct 6) Drive from Tingri to Kathmandu.
Oct 7) Celebration Banquet. Packing and final shopping in Kathmandu.
Oct 8) Say Good-bye to your new friends, Departure for home.

posted by Wiktor at 19:56  

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