Sunday, July 13, 2014

Ganz bei mir, by Kaltenbrunner & Steinbach

Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, with Karin Steinbach, tells of her climbs on the world's highest mountains in  Ganz bei mir, Leidenschaft Achttausender. She writes of her life of climbing, leading to her becoming the first woman to climb the fourteen 8000-meter peaks without supplemental oxygen and without the use of high-altitude porters. She climbs quite a bit for fun as a student, before becoming a nurse and realizing her dream of climbing an 8000-er on Broad Peak at 23. For a while, she works as a nurse and climbs every chance she gets, before her climbing takes over, and she manages to live the life of a full-time mountaineer. Her quest for the 14 highest mountains starts off well, with a mixture of success and frustration without tragedy, until the year after she goes pro, on Hidden Peak. She has a number of trying moments after that, including an unbelievable survival on Dhaulagiri after an avalanche that killed two others. I only wish she would have written a bit more about her final climb to achieve her record, as there is so little written about climbs on the north side of K2.

She makes two trips to Everest. Her first, pre-monsoon in 2005 after her South Face climb of Shishipangma, was meant to be a Supercouloir alpine climb, in the footsteps of Troillet and Loretan. (See Loretan's Den Bergen Verfallen.) Bad snow conditions turn their attention to the North Col route, with an ascent of the col's west side, and a trip up to Camp V, before one of her ropemates becomes life-threateningly ill, necessitating his rescue. She returns in 2010 to make the summit via the normal North Col route, still carrying her own gear.

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