Wednesday, 2 January 2013


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The Year’s Best in Mountaineering: The 5 Most Impressive Climbs of 2012
By Jeffrey Marlow,
Wired, 1 January 2013.

The Extremo Files completes its round up of the year’s most impressive exploratory feats today with a look at the best mountaineering expeditions of 2012. Kraig Becker, the climber and outdoor enthusiast behind The Adventure Blog gives his picks below. Becker launched the blog several years ago to chronicle the amazing expeditions and adventures that continue to take place around the globe even in the 21st century.

"When the mainstream media covers mountaineering, most stories usually revolve around Mt. Everest," Becker said. "And while that mountain is the tallest on the planet - and remains incredibly popular with the general public - year in and year out, the most impressive climbs take place on other, lesser-known peaks. 2012 was an impressive year for mountaineering, and these are my picks for the best of the best."

1. First Winter Ascent of Gasherbrum I

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Gasherbrum I, Pakistan.

2012 got off to an impressive start with the first successful summit of Gasherbrum I last March. Located in Pakistan’s Karakoram Range, the 8080-meter (26,509 ft) peak is the eleventh tallest mountain on the planet, and while it has been scaled numerous times in the summer, it had never been conquered in the winter. Polish climbers Adam Bielecki and Janusz Golab, along with Pakistani mountaineers Ali Sadpara and Shaheen Baig, faced sub-zero temperatures, heavy snow, and blistering winds to reach the summit in the most demanding season of the year. Sadly, three other climbers from a different team perished attempting the same ascent, disappearing during their summit push. - Kraig Becker

2. Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner Makes Pure Ascent Of Nuptse

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Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner during her and partner David Gottler's alpine style
ascent of Nuptse.

In May, German climber Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, the first woman to climb all fourteen 8000-meter peaks without supplemental oxygen, made an unusual ascent of Nuptse along with climbing partner David Gottler. The pair climbed the 7861-meter (25,791 ft) mountain (located in Nepal, not far from Everest) in the alpine style, without the use of Sherpa support, fixed ropes, or bottled oxygen. Each of those elements is crucial to most expeditions in the Himalaya these days, and to go without any of them is almost unheard of. But Kaltenbrunner and Gottler eschewed all of those comforts in pursuit of a more challenging, yet pure, ascent, making it one of the most impressive climbs of the year. - Kraig Becker

3. Ueli Steck Climbs and Paraglides Three Alpine Peaks in a Single Day

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Ueli Steck prepares to paraglide between climbs.

Swiss mountaineer Ueli Steck is amongst the best climbers in the world and he often finds interesting projects to test his set of unique skills. This year he also discovered a love for paragliding, and his two passions came together in impressive fashion on one day in August. On that day, Steck managed to string together a series of summits on the Jungfrau, Mönch, and Eiger by speed climbing each of the mountains and paragliding from one to the next. The expedition began early in the morning and Steck glided from the summit of the Eiger back to his car by 5:00 PM, getting him home in time for dinner. - Kraig Becker

4. Italian Mountaineer Becomes First To Climb “Second Seven Summits”

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Hans Kammerlander on the summit of Mt. Tyree, Antarctica.

At first glance, one wouldn’t think that summiting the 4851-meter (15,916 ft) Mt. Tyree, located in Antarctica, would make a list of the most impressive climbs of 2012. But when Italian climber Hans Kammerlander did it last January he also completed his quest to climb the “Second Seven Summits” - the second tallest mountains on each of the seven continents. For years, climbing the Seven Summits has been a badge of honour amongst climbers, but it turns out the Second Seven are even more challenging to complete. The list includes Mt. Kenya (Africa, 17,057'), K2 (Asia, 28,251'), Dykh-Tau (Europe, 17,076'), Mt. Logan (North America, 19,550'), Ojos del Salado (South America, 22,614'), Puncak Trikora (Australasia, 15,617'), and Mt. Tyree. Kammerlander became the first to accomplish the feat, earning his spot in mountaineering history in the process. - Kraig Becker

5. First Ascent of the Mazeno Ridge

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The Mazeno Ridge

No climb in 2012 was as big or bold as the first ascent of the Mazeno Ridge, an 8-mile long route that culminates at the summit of Pakistan’s Nanga Parbet, the ninth tallest mountain in the world at 8126 meters (26,660 ft). The ridge features eight sub-summits of more than 7000 meters (22,965 ft) in height, and completing the route was a harrowing marathon for climbers Sandy Allan and Rick Allen, who faced incredibly bad weather and treacherous snow conditions on their way to the top. The climb was expected to take eight days to complete, but the expedition actually stretched to 18; by the time the two men stood on top, they were out of food, fuel and water. The descent was equally difficult, due to exhaustion and a lack of supplies, but when Allan and Allen returned to Base Camp, they had completed the most impressive mountaineering accomplishment in the past decade or more. - Kraig Becker

Top image: Gasherbrum 1

[Source: Wired. Edited. Top image and some links added.]

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