Mount Damavand Hypnotizes Climbers with a Spectacular Sunrise Above the CloudsSeptember 9, 2021
Mount Damavand, the Land of the GodsJanuary 9, 2022
As part of the presentation of the new alpine collection The North Face (Advanced Mountain Kit) in French Chamonix, ALPIN photographer Birgit Gelder had the opportunity to climb the Dent du Jant with the Montblanc group led by the famous German climber David Göttler .
Taking this opportunity, Birgit took a short interview.
For the second time since 2019, David returned from Everest without success, never completing his climbing project without using oxygen cylinders.
Recall that in the 2021 season, he and the Spaniard Kilian Jornet Burgada planned the Everest-Lhotse traverse.
However, due to long bad weather conditions and not the best psychological well-being, the two decided to abandon the project.
Two years ago, David turned down from 8650 meters , only 200 meters below the summit.
This time the team turned around, reaching the South Col at 8000 meters.
David, for almost 20 years you have been a professional mountaineer and have visited many of the highest mountain peaks in the world.
In the spring of 2021, you had to interrupt the ascent of Mount Everest being only 200 meters from the summit, which you planned to make without using oxygen tanks. What happened?
There were too many people on the mountain, and the weather turned bad.
In such conditions, it was simply impossible to wait on the slope for two hours for their turn.
But I’m not complaining. When you go to Everest, you know that anything can happen on the mountain and that traffic jams can occur at key points .
But every climber has every right to climb the mountain as he pleases.
I don’t want to label my vision of climbing; I am not saying that it is fairer or more honest.
But when we talk about sporting achievements, then for me the use of oxygen cylinders in climbing is doping.
If we were to draw more media attention to this topic, climbing Mount Everest with oxygen tanks would no longer be perceived as some kind of great achievement.
Have you climbed to the top? With oxygen?
Well … it’s like riding an e-bike.
Now it can be said that if the weather is good on the mountain, then on the day of the assault there will be traffic jams. How do you imagine the completion of your project in such conditions?
There were many days of great weather on the mountain in 2018, but not in 2021.
Maybe with climate change there are fewer and fewer good days on Everest.
I just need to go up the mountain.
How do you see the media coverage of high-altitude mountaineering?
Information about ascents to eight-thousanders is sometimes very undifferentiated.
This may be due, on the one hand, to reports from the base camp and from travel agencies, and on the other hand, information from the climbers themselves.
Today, in the big mountains, you most often meet people who would be completely helpless without tourist infrastructure and sherpas.
However, from the side of the media, their ascents look like achievements that can be equated with those of Reinhold Messner .
I would not want to write about it. I just want a handful of professional climbers, sponsors, and the alpine press to take a closer look at this topic and do more outreach.
Climbers should work on honest reporting, especially in expeditionary mountaineering.
Personally, I always try to be as transparent as possible in my projects.
I see a problem with social media posts that have become part of marketing and PR.
Unlike the Internet, the print medium is slower, but the information in it is more elaborate. Nowadays journalism is very fast, and often without filtering, verifying information.
Everything that is posted on any channel in social networks will be published in the media with the most flashy headline, and the essence multiplies many times over, even without asking the direct “heroes” of the publication for details.
How do you think it is possible to “score points in mountaineering” today? What are the common people and sponsors most interested in?
I think in the end it all comes down to colorful stories – including for sponsors.
I go to Everest not because it is called Everest, but because it is the highest mountain on our planet.
I’m a high altitude climber, so I just want to go there.
I already felt the air depression at 8000 meters and I know how great it is to move without using oxygen tanks at such an altitude.
Now I just want to know if I can make it to the top.
It has nothing to do with whether I can “sell” my project well to sponsors.
The relationship with my sponsors has long been established.
This will be just my project and therefore I do not feel any sponsorship pressure behind me.
Then where does this pressure come from?
I tend to feel pressured by social media. During the period of isolation from the coronavirus, I realized that social media is a source of “envy.”
Everywhere you see photographs of mountains with ideal conditions and ask yourself why I am not there now, especially when you are sitting in the base camp, and then you see photographs from the expedition to the neighboring mountain, where everything is going great and everyone is smiling happily at the top.
During the period of isolation, there were no major expeditions or projects.
Everyone just posted their videos about yoga or cooking. This situation relaxed me a lot.
We must learn to use this environment wisely.
Proper handling of this relatively new environment is especially important for future athletes.
After all, they earn some of their income and fame from it.
Professionals are often attracted by the highest mountains. And what can young athletes do when all the easily accessible mountains have long been passed?
Maybe that’s not the point at all?
I always ask myself: “How can I develop even more personally?” I don’t think about how to surpass someone else.
Alex Honnold and Alexander Huber probably didn’t chase someone else’s records and figure out how to surpass everyone in popularity in the media when they started their projects.
Rather, it was a maturation process to push themselves and go beyond your capabilities.
They had to look for their own way to the top and then do not stop, but go further and further.
Of course, they are also willing to take risks – this is what makes mountaineering so attractive, but it is a calculated risk.
However, someone can take this risk as a role model. Is it then the responsibility of the athletes to present these projects in a different way in the media?
I do not think that outstanding achievements should be hidden, veiled in the media so that they are not repeated.
However, young athletes should be aware that the idols they imitate did not immediately start out with free solo ascents.
It has been a long journey and hard work, even for legendary figures.
After many years and many failures, they ended up where they are now.
“Progress slowly, not overnight” is what needs to be constantly reminded.
And it would be nice if this motto became part of training in alpine clubs.