HIMALAYA - NO AIR FOR BREATHING: PART 1

Klaus Dierks
©  Dr. Klaus Dierks 1982-2004

 

It is a little less than hundred years that the mountaineers of the world have been taking-up the unprecedented challenge to climb the highest mountains on earth. Exactly for the same period one may ask "Why?". The conditions for these climbs are always extreme. Not the physical extremes of the Himalayas but the bodily and psychological limits. These ultimate limit loads include states of exhaustion, one of the most frequent causes of death in the Himalayas, furthermore cold, high altitude with the resulting grave disturbance in the human body, dangers through avalanches and crevasses, heavy baggage loads, high altitude- and other diseases, pains, fear and loneliness.

Time and again the climber in the Himalayas has no air for breathing and reaches heights at which today’s aircraft cruise. Great willpower is needed to climb higher and higher in the thin cold air. The truth as to what mountaineers are doing in these celestial heights is very complicated. The British climber George Leigh Mallory who lost his life in a mysterious way on Mount Everest in 1924 answered the question why climbing Mount Everest "Because it’s there".

But this is not the whole truth. It’s not only the challenge climbing these high mountains and consequently reaching the limits of human performance, but the feeling of euphoria to have successfully overcome extreme hardships and strains and to have returned to a normal life, in spite of all the hazards. In the Himalayas a strong relationship with nature can be enjoyed to the full. Peaks especially in the Himalayas are not abstract goals to prove one’s ability and condition but most beautiful parts of this world, whether it be the Himalayas, the South American Andes or the Kaokoveld in Namibia.

In our world of today money buys everything, and it is possible to travel to the most remote corners on earth. The experience, however, of having climbed a high peak in the Himalayas cannot be bought. The person who wants to leave the valleys and climb mountains needs many years of intensive fitness training which does away with the mental and physical development arising from the good living.

A Himalayas expedition means not only moving in the most appealing mountain wilderness of the world bu tin the spiritual landscape of the Tibetan Buddhism. The Lamaistic monasteries situated within view of the breathtaking steepness and heights of the ice giants are also a strong motive for undertakings of this kind. It is said, that the mountains of the Himalayas are inhabited by gods and demons. For thousand of years they have been places of pilgrimage for the devout Hindus and Buddhists of Asia. The highest mountains obviously inspire the human spirit to move to similar levels.

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Beding, Main Village of the Rolwaling with Gaurisankar in the Background
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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The Gompa in Beding in the Rolwaling
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Sherpa Children in Beding in the Rolwaling
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Sherpa Woman in Beding in the Rolwaling
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Sherpa Couple in Na, east of Beding with Gaurisankar 7 145 m in the Background
Photo Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Sherpa Women in Na
Photos: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Sherpa in Na
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Sherpa Children in Na
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Sherpa Settlement Na in the Rolwaling
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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The nearly 7000 m high Chobutse in the Rolwaling
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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The avalanche prone slopes above the Tso Rolpa, in direction to the Trakarding Glacier in the Rolwaling
Photos: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Trakarding Glacier
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Edelweiß on theTrakarding Glacier
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Sherpa Rest on the Trakarding Glacier
Photos: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

For the Lamaistic Buddhist the ultimate goal in human life is to achieve harmony between the eternal cycle of being human and the cosmos. He can reach this last perfection only after having passed a long chain of rebirths and after having reached a higher level of living by meditation. The mountaineer, however, despite his between a human being and the cosmos by a particular form of living which is mountaineering. Most probably one has to proceed into ultimate limit situations of live to experience this harmony.

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Tashi Lumpo Temple (Gompa) in Shigatse, Tibet, 1997
Photos: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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"Wheel of Life-Mandala" in the Tashi Lumpo Gompa in Shigatse, Tibet 
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Kumbum Tschörte in Gyantse, Tibet
Photos: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Main Temple Pelkor Chöde with Kumbum Tschörte in Gyantse, Tibet
Photos: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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View from the Pelkor Chöde with the Gyantse Fort (Dzong) in the Background
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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View from the Dzong with Pelkor Chöde and Kumbum in the Background
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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The historical Buddha "Gautama" in the Kumbum Tschörte in Gyantse, Tibet
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

The three Namibia Himalaya Expeditions 1980, 1982 and 1984 as well as further trekking expeditions into Zanskar and Ladakh in the year 1992, to the K2 Base Camp in the Karakoram in the year1994, into the central regions of Tibet in the year 1997 and into West Tibet, to the Kailash and the Shisha Pangma in the year 1998, again into Ladakh and into the eastern parts of the Karakoram 1999 and to the third highest peak in the world, to Kangchendzönga in the year 2000 in Sikkim, have repeatedly gained experience with these types of problem-burdened limit states. All these expeditions have been planned as mini expeditions in the west-alpine style but mainly due to the restriction of financial resources. From the very beginning this style guaranteed all sorts of difficulties and dangerous experiences. The partner "mountain" should be approached by fair means without oxygen, drilled pitons, aluminium ladders and triers, helicopters and portable saunas.

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The Indus Valley west of Skardu is the main access to the Karakoram (1994 Expedition)
Photos: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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On the Way to the second highest Peak in the World, to K 2 in the Karakoram, the difficult and avalanche prone Braldo Gorge has to be crossed before the Baltoro Glacier is reached (1994 Expedition)
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Askole is the last human Settlement before the Baltoro Glacier (1994 Expedition)


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The Biafo Glacier in the Karakoram is crossed (1994 Expedition)
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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After the Biafo Glacier a steep Rock Face has to be crossed at Dumordo (1994 Expedition)
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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An icecold Glacier River at Paiju is crossed on the Way to the Baltoro Glacier in the Karakoram with the Trango Towers in the Background (1994 Expedition)
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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The Beginning of the Baltoro Glacier in the Karakoram with the Trango Towers in the Background (1994 Expedition)
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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The 6 000 und 7 000 m high Granite Towers (Uli Biaho and Trango Towers) in the Baltoro Glacier Area in the Karakoram (1994 Expedition)
Photos: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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The 7 821 m high Masherbrum in the  Baltoro Glacier Area in the Karakoram (1994 Expedition)
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Porter on the Baltoro Glacier in the Karakoram (1994 Expedition)
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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The 7 279 m high Mustagh Tower in the Baltoro Glacier Area in the Karakoram (1994 Expedition)
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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The 7 668 m high Chogolisa in the Karakoram. Here the Austrian Climber Hermann Buhl who was the first to scale Nanga Parbat fell to his death (1994 Expedition)
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Our Porters at  Concordia on the Baltoro Glacier in the Karakoram (1994 Expedition)
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Our Porters at  Concordia with the K2 in the Background   (1994 Expedition)
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Broad Peak 8 047 m from the Base Camp in the Karakoram (With Namibian Flag in the Front: 1994 Expedition)
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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The second highest Peak in the World,  K 2  8 611 m, viewed from the Base Camp in the Karakoram (1994 Expedition)
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Baltit, the Capital of the Hunza Valley in the western Karakoram (1994 Expedition)
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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The 7 788 m high Rakaposhi, Main Peak in the Hunza Valley in the western Karakoram (1994 Expedition)
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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The highest Peak in the Zanskar: Nun Kun 7 135 m (1999 Expedition)
Photos: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Pass Road between Lamayuru Gompa and Khalsa in the Indus Valley, Ladakh 
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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View from the Lamayuru Gompa to Wangla and into the Zanskar, Ladakh
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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View from the nearly 6 000 m high Wari-La to the South into the Indus Valley and into the Zanskar, Ladakh (1999 Expedition)
Photos: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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View from the Wari-La to the North into the Shyok Valley and into the eastern Karakoram, Ladakh (1999 Expedition)
Photos: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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View back to the South to the Wari-La, Ladakh (1999 Expedition)
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Confluence of Nubra and Shyok Rivers in the eastern Karakoram, Ladakh (1999 Expedition)
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Wild Camels in the Shyok Valley in the eastern Karakoram, Ladakh (1999 Expedition)
Photos: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Siling in the Shisha Pangma Area in Tibet in the Year 1998
Photos: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Shisha Pangma 8 012 m from the North in the Year 1998
Photos: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Tibetan Nomad from the Shisha Pangma Area
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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Norhwest from the Shisha Pangma Area: The Lake Paiku Tso with Ganesh Himal with the highest Peak Ganesh I 7 406 m in the South: between Nepal and Tibet, 1998
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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View to the East: Paiku Tso with the Shisha Pangma Range, 1998
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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View to the South East: Paiku Tso with Gang Benchnen 7 211 m, 1998
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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View to the North to the Paiku Tso, Tibet, 1998
Photos: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

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