GORE-TEX Experience Tour: Expedition Camp successfully completed!

Tuesday, 15 June 2011 – After successful four days up in the mountains under the leadership of Ralf Dujmovits and Hajo Netzer, the “Gore Expedition Team” is now back home. The Expedition Camp was organised as part of the GORE-TEX Experience Tour and took place in an area of the Alps known as the Stubai Alps. Despite the wintry weather with rain and snow, all eight participants were able to complete the tour. From their last camp on the Lüsens glacier at an altitude of 3100 metres their route took them up the 40 degree North Face of the Wildes Hinterbergl to the summit.

The Franz-Senn hut was the starting point for the final part of the expedition. Thomas Fankhauser, the hut ‘landlord’, played a key role in the successful outcome of the expedition – in the true sense of the word. Although the hut was not yet officially open for the season, he specially opened it up for the Gore expedition team. In the afternoon it started raining. Nevertheless, the group started the climb up to the first camp at an altitude of about 2500 metres. Professional alpinists Ralf Dujmovits and Hajo Netzer gave the participants tips about how to cope with everyday expedition situations: how to put up a single skin expedition tent, how to dry wet clothes, how to prepare freeze dried meals and how to diagnose altitude related illnesses.

The next day ten centimetres of new snow made the climb over loose blocks extremely difficult. At an altitude of 2900 metres the expedition team finally reached the white world of the high mountains. From here they made their way across the Lüsenser Ferner with its great expanses of snow in two roped parties to their high camp. Deep and heavy snow on the glacier meant that they made slow progress. It was exhausting work and they were clearly beginning to notice the high altitude. They put up their tents within sight of their goal: the snow-covered North Face of the Wildes Hinterbergl. For some of the participants it was the first time that they had prepared a platform for a tent in snow and had had to melt snow for drinking water.

The next morning Ralf and Hajo assessed the conditions on the 150 metre high, 40 degree face. They discovered patches of hip-deep snow rather than the sheer ice surface they had been expecting. They anchored various fixed ropes in the face so that the group could safely ascend these ropes to the 3288 metre peak using ascenders. It was an exhausting climb through the deep snow. Despite the dull, wet weather, at the top of the mountain everyone was in high spirits. All the participants had successfully completed the tour: an amazing achievement, especially considering the weather conditions and the fact that some of the participants had very little previous experience. In weather conditions such as these, waterproof clothing was absolutely essential for the successful outcome of the tour. In this respect the conditions couldn’t have been better for the Expedition Camp. As one of the participants said: “The weather was dreadful, but in a way I hadn’t expected anything else on an expedition. It was fantastic!”

Whereas the participants are now back home reliving the excitement of the expedition in their imaginations, Ralf Dujmovits has already left on a major expedition. With his wife Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner he is heading for the North Pillar of the K2 – at 8611 metres the world’s second highest peak and believed by many to be the world’s most difficult and dangerous climb. They’ll be gone for about three months.