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  Mt. Everest 2005: Gerfried Goeschl summits without oxygen: The report


Update SHISHA PANGMA /MT.EVEREST EXPEDITION 2005: Two summits in 4 weeks: 

After the successful climb of Shisha Pangma Main (8027m) on May 03 2005, Gerfried Göschl succeeded on June 01, 2005 after waiting for quite some time for the right weather conditions to climb Mt.Everest (8848m) alone and without use of oxygen.

Only stopping one day in Tingri (4350m), Gerfried starts the ascent to the Mt.Everest ABC in 6400m after handing over the responsibility to take home the Shisha Pangma expedition to his vice-leader Hubert Rieger.

However, the weather proves that the hope for a fast run to the summit is premature: extreme cold and wind speeds of up to 100km/h prevent the immediate start.

Gerfried starts the first attempt on May 19, but also due to extreme wind speeds and low temperatures, he turns back after reaching 7600m together with another Austrian, Hans Goger. His girlfriend Heike is much reassured by his common sense, and still encourages him to keep to his decision to go without oxygen.

The Plan of Hans was also climbing without Sherpas, but wanted to use oxygen from Camp III (8250m).

After descending to Tingri and filling up there electrolyte deposits with the aid of the local beer, Hans and Gerfried start the second attempt together reaching ABC again on May 24.

On May 29, with a promising 3-day weather forecast, Gerfried start from the ABC for the summit, and reach Camp II in 7550m after eight hours (including 1 ½ hours rest). On North Col he meets up with Hans and Marcin Miotk from Poland, who started one day before. They decided to work together and climbed up for Camp II in upcoming snowstorm.

“Johann and I spent the night together in my Northland expedition sleeping bag, due to the big volume in the footpart it was quite comfortable and warm, also the tent was very durable” Gerfried reports.

In changing weather conditions and gusty winds they leave Camp II after extensive cooking and drinking lots of liquids around noon time, planning to reach Camp III in the evening.

Gerfried is well ahead, but because of very strong wind they are loosing too much time and he decides to descend a few meters to meet his comrades and they camp below Camp III in 7850m.

Since Gerfried’s condition, spirits are good, and the weather seems to get better, he decides to make the run to the summit the next day, so he puts his wrist alarm clock under his head, otherwise he can’t hear anything due to the extreme wind noise, and gets up every hour to check the weather. Surprisingly, he also manages to sleep in between, and because of the strong wind he starts the long solid climb very late at 5.00 a.m. on June 01 2005.

He is optimistic to reach the summit after 10-12 hours climbing.

The ascent is quite smooth, and at 8.00 a.m. he reaches Camp III, where the sherpa of another expedition indicates the direction to the summit, astonished to find a solitary climber so late.

In 8100m the Brazilian expedition offers him a welcome cup of tea.

He climbs for about 6 hours until he reaches 8500m, during this time, he manages more than 100m altitude per hour. Then the going becomes more technical and slow because of the three rocky steps.

On sad meeting on the way: Marko from Slovenia, whom Gerfried met in base camp of the Russian group a few days earlier when playing chess with the expedition leader Alex Abramov, made a tragic mistake with his oxygen bottles: on the way to the summit, he deposited his full bottle for the descent, and started the climb to the summit with only the half full bottle, and on the way down from the summit, he broke down and suffocated.

From the „third step“, Gerfried had to trudge through knee deep freshly fallen snow, hard work after the long and arduous climb! And yet he felt happy to step to the summit through virgin snow, no other tracks visible than his own.

On June 1 2005, 17:30 p.m. local time, he finally reaches the summit of Mt. Everest!!

Then everything has to happen very fast, fortunately he planned every move:

A photo of the summit to show he was there, one photo with the picture of Heike as promised to her, and then placing his “lucky potato”, which he carried for 2 months on all mountains, to finally deposit it on Mt. Everest as a sign of fertility and as a symbol of Austrian soil.

After only 15 Minutes on the summit, he starts to descend: it is vital to get over the technically challenging part at second step before it gets dark.

At 19:00 p.m., the last rays of the sun show him the way through this tricky part, then suddenly it gets totally dark. By the light of his headlamp, he descends for four hours down to 8250m.

Shortly below the summit, Gerfried has some frightening moments: suddenly he cannot see on one eye, and worries that he may have become snow blind by taking of his glasses to wipe away snow two times during the ascent – but “luckily” it turned out to be “only” some internal bleeding of the cornea, which may happen in the “death zone” of extreme altitude due to the low air pressure.

Another accident happens further down: climbing down, the connection of the glove and overall suddenly breaks, and the glove disappears forever.

Good planning – he has a spare glove in his knee pocket – but the short time of putting it on is enough to freeze the finger tips of his right hand.

At 10:00 p.m. finally he reaches Camp III in 8250m. He didn’t find his friend Hans Goger, but George Dijmarescu and Lakpa offered him a place in there tent because they started same time for the summit.

In Camp III the worst night of his life is just about to begin:

Very dehydrated, exhausted, and also slightly confused by lack of oxygen, he can only think of getting enough liquid into his starved body. But the camp is already deserted, the other climbers have left for their own ascent, and Gerfried only now finds out that he left his lighter with his two climbing companions.

Each unnecessary movement is using up precious oxygen, so very slowly and carefully (the camp is located on a steep place) he starts to crawl from tent to tent only in his inner shoes looking for some means to light his stove and melt snow for drinking - it takes hours, but unfortunately in vain, with moments of blackest despair and helplessness.

Early next morning, very carefully and with rest periods every 10 minutes, Gerfried descends down to the ABC at 6400m, which he reaches at 10:00 p.m.

At around 7900m George and Lakpa met him up and helped him coming down to North Col, he is slowly and tired having no water.

In ABC an Indian Air Force expedition immediately provides glucose drinks and Cortisone, the offered oxygen Gerfried rejects – he must also make the descent without oxygen.

After a good rest during the night in a tent of Brazil friend Toto, Gerfried feels little better and descends down to the base camp in 5170m together with Hans. Hans summited also, 2nd of June, and came down from North Col on 3rd.  A big success for both climbers. After a short stop in BC to collect there gear they continue down to Tingri per Jeep same day.

After a brief rest, they are on the road to Kathmandu again, and manages to catch there return flight back to Austria on the afternoon of June 4.

Due to all the hurry, only after he sits back in the plane with nothing to do, he finally finds time to savour his experiences and to realize what he has achieved, he nearly cannot believe that he managed to reach all his goals: the three “training mountain” (6350m, 6520m, 7068m), Shisha Pangma, and finally, alone without oxygen on Mt. Everest !

The reunion with girlfriend Heike in Munich is very emotional, after 2 months of waiting: “Heike gave me very strong emotional support during the whole time, it was she who pushed me to keep to my resolve to climb without oxygen.”

Greetings, Susan Borufka Northland Professional

Editorial Note: There is no doubt about his summit. One, he has provided us with pictures which we will post in the coming weeks. Two, he was seem going up the summit pyramid by others below.

Previous Update

Northland Professional expedition climbing Shisha Pangma (8027m) & Mount Everest (8848m) Spring 2005

..Tested under extreme conditions..

Expedition plan: Spring 2005 Gerfried Goeschl leads the Northland Professional expedition to climb Shisha Pangma (8027m) in Tibet.  The international team consisting of 11 members want to climb to the summit via the north ridge. Four Austrians, five Germans (two women) and one climber from the Netherlands will accompany him.

They will leave Europe on April 4 for Kathmandu, and April 14 the first basecamp (ABC) in 5600m in Tibet will be established.

Together with his friends Guenther Unterberger and Hubert Rieger Gerfried wants to acclimatize on the mountain and try the climb to the summit. They group will leave Tibet on May 15 and return via Kathmandu back to Austria on May 18.

Gerfried will stay in Tibet and rest in Tingri (4350m) for two or three days, and will then proceed to the northern basecamp of  Mount Everest (8848m). From upper basecamp (6450m) he will start for the summit without oxygen. His return is planned for June 5.

Facts of Shisha Pangma (8027m):

Shisha Pangma was the last of the fourteen 8000m high mountains which was climbed in 1964 by a group of Chinese and Tibetan climbers. Shisha Pangma is the only 8000m high mountain which is completely located within the Tibetan borders.

The technical difficulties of the mountain apart from the extreme altitude are near the summit, very steep and exposed traverses above 7800m make reaching the seldom climbed main summit difficult.

The first climbers from Styria, Austria who climbed Shisha Pangma were the well known climber Hanns Schell in 1985 with Thomas Schilcher.

Facts of  Mount Everest (8848m):

Mount Everest is well known as the highest mountain on earth. The summit is located exactly on the border between Nepal and China/Tibet.

The famous first ascent was made by the New Zealand climber Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing Norgay in 1953 from the southern side in Nepal, which is the normal route today, after the many expeditions through the preceding decades failed.

The first climbers who reached the summit without oxygen were Peter Habeler from Tyrol and Reinhold Messner from South Tyrol in 1978. The first and up to now only Styrian climber, Robert Schauer from Graz, reached the summit in the same expedition.

Gerfried Göschl wants to climb the technically challenging north eastern ridge from Tibet without use of “bottles”. The most difficult parts are on the summit ridge in an altitude of 8500m to 8650m, three steep rocky promontories must be climbed. The ridge to the summit is more than 2km long, on both sides of the ridge there are near vertical 3000m steep walls.

Tactic: Since the ABC (6450m) on Everest is quite high, Gerfried Goeschl does not want to acclimatize painfully on Everest. He plans after a climb of over 8000m on Shisha Pangma to reach the Everest basecamp fully acclimatized and in best condition and wait for best weather.

Then he will try to reach the summit with two bivouacs (7600m, 8150m).

According to statistics, the best weather to reach the summit of Everest are between May 17 and May 26, during this time he will stay in the basecamp and use the best day for the climb.

Northland Professional Team 2005:

The Northland Professional Team 2005 consists of three climbers:

  • Gerfried Goeschl
  • Hubert Rieger
  • Guenther Unterberger


  • Gerfried Goeschl (32) from Styria, Austria

Expedition leader

Member of Alpine Rescue Team Gesaeuse

Many expeditions (South America, Asia):

1999: Momhil Shar (7343m) up to 6500m

2001: Muztagh Ata (7546m)

2002: Cho Oyu (8201m)

2003: Aconcagua (6962m)

          Gasherbrum 1 (8068m) up to 7500m

          Gasherbrum 2 (8035m)

  • Hubert Rieger (31) from upper Austria

Vice expedition leader and camera team

Works for film and TV

Lots of local European tours Dachstein, Glockner

European Eastern Alps: Piz Palü, Piz Bernina.

Expeditions to South America (2002 und 2004):

6000m: Aconcagua, Illimani, Huyana Potosi, Parinacota, Pomerape.

5000m: Alpamayo chico, Ilusion.

  • Günther Unterberger (38) from Styria

Regional leader of Austrian Mountain Rescue Team in Selzthal

Alpine Highlights:

Dachl north face, Grosse Zinne north face, Cima Canali Buhlweg, and many more

Expeditions to India (1991) and South America (1996):

6000m: Barthakuna (6560m), Ojos del Salado (6880m)

Other members of the Shisha Pangma Expedition:

From Austria:

Georg Wenzl (26)

Hans Wenzl (34)

From Germany:

Dr. Andrea Lakatos (39)

Dr. Helga Schubert (44)

Thomas Scherzer (25)

Martin Nuess (30)

Norbert Linz (37)

From Holland:

Elio Schlijen (33)

Update 4/10/2005: Greetings from Nyalam

Hello again! Since yesterday we stay in Nyalam. All 11 members made trips up to 4400m today and feel good. Real bad weather here. We will leave Nyalam at Monday to reach BC of Shisha.

Greetings, Gerfried and team

Update 4/6/2005: Hi from KTM! Tomorrow me and my team is going to Zangmu, it seems there are no problems with the Maoists! All members are well!!! Greetings from KTM Gerfried

Previous Update is below

Gerfried Goeschl from Austria who summited Cho Oyu on May 3rd, 2003 will lead a group of 12 to Shisha Pangma (normal route 6 Austrians, 5 Germanys including two women, 1 Dutch) and then after Shisha head over to Everest for a push to the top alone and without oxygen.

"Alone I will stay in Tibet, have some rest in Tingri and change to Everest. I have interesting plans for Everest from the North side, alone and without artificial oxygen.  I will wait for the weather window till the end of May. My flight from Kathmandu to Europe will be at 4 June." Greetings from Austria, Gerfried Göschl

Team members for Shisha:


5 Austrians:

Gerfried Göschl (32), leader

Hubert Rieger (31), co-leader

Günther Unterberger (37)

brothers Georg (26) und Hans (34) Wenzl


5 Germans:

Mrs. Dr Andrea Lakatos (39), climbed Cho Oyu 2002

Mrs. Dr. Helga Schubert (44)

Thomas Scherzer (25)

Martin Nüß (30)

Norbert Linz (37)


1 Dutch:


Elio Schijlen (33)


All members are in a good shape.

As we planed we will leave 4. April from Munich.


Greetings from Austria, Gerfried Göschl

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