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Online-release of »The Great Crossing«

November 27th, 2017

Finally, we make our documentary film »The Great Crossing« available for everyone!

Itís already four and a half years ago, when we went to Pakistan to make first ascents in one of the remotest places on earth. Without any support, just the four of us and our pulks.
The film to our expedition was released a few months after our return and since then was screened on different festivals and events. Meanwhile, also the stock of DVDs has shrunk to almost zero.
Therefore we decided that it is time to make our film available to everyone.

December 7th will be the day, from when you can stream »The Great Crossing« online and for free!
Stay tuned and follow us on Facebook, so you donít miss any information about the release...

[Stefan]

Our Trailer is online!

June 10th, 2013

One month ago we arrived at home and who follows our blog might be thinking that we only relaxed since then.
But it is not like this. We work hard on the film and with every hour editing we experience the expedition one more time. It will still take a while until we can present the final film, but get a few impressions from the beautiful Pakistani Karakoram in our trailer.
Because our laptop did not work in the last three weeks on the glacier we could only upload pictures from our mobile phones. The highlights of our trip in good quality you find in the photo gallery.

[Stefan]

Review "The Great Crossing" 2013

Back in civilization

May 5th, 2013

A few days ago we arrived back in civilization and since then enjoy its comforts to the fullest.
The stage from our last camp to Askole was the perfect ending of our tour. In the small village at 3000 meters above sea level we spent our last two nights in sleeping bags. Before we started our drive towards Islamabad on Friday, we allowed ourselves the enjoyment of a bath in the nearby hot springs. The rough ride to Skardu we did in a brand new Toyota Land Cruiser, the same model with Chinese writing on the dashboard like the Jeep we used for a ride one month earlier.
In the Concordia Motel in Skardu we had everything we so often dreamed of on the glacier: Tap water, electricity, internet, a bed in a huge room, hot shower, mirrors, lots of good food and pleasant temperatures. I just think that it's a bit worrying and a sad to see how fast we got used to the long-awaited luxury and how quickly we stopped valuing it as much as it is supposed to be.
Yesterday was another day of rest which we enjoyed with a city tour and shopping. Today a long drive brings us to the Karakoram Highway and to Chilas, on Monday we should arrive in Islamabad after a 15 hours drive. We hope that the upcoming elections do not affect our progress too much.
In the Pakistani capital, we have two more days before we get on the plane and leave this beautiful country for this time...

[Stefan]

The second last day walking

April 30th, 2013

Because of our long walk yesterday we saved the porters one day walk into the valley und all of us one day walk towards Askole. So we decided to split the today's long stage into two shorter walks. Now we sit in the camp, two hours away from Askole, the first village in the valley and at the same time the end of our journey on foot.
Slowly the end of our trip is coming closer, we look forward to many things like a hot shower, clean clothes, a shave and the loved ones at home. We are curious whether the laptop, which did not work for the last three weeks, can be switched on again, and also we are looking forward to seeing the recordings for our movie and the photos we made. Above all, we are glad about the successful and incident-free completion of our "Great Crossing".
Unfortunately, our Italian internet provider did not allow us to use his service until the last day of our contract, so this entry and the pictures will be a few days late.

[Stefan]

The saturday-morning-challange: Where is the pulk? On the way in snow and wind The last rest on the glacier before meeting the porters
When continuing with pulks became impossible, miraculously the porters came into sight... Matthias' thirtieth birthday was properly celebrated, with coffee and Black Forest cherry gateaux Today, the last day on Biafo Glacier, the second last day on foot

On the way in snow and wind

April 26th, 2013

Saying that the weather was good when we looked out of our tent this morning would definitly have been a lie. But it was hardly snowing and the hope for a change to good weather was there. So we started. Unfortunately our hope was for nothing. After we left, snow and wind started. Sometimes in an absolute whiteout we went towards south-southeast, the gods of the glaciers had mercy and guided us safe through the crevasse-zone. Around noon, after seven kilometers of walking we set up our tents and fast slipped into our warming sleeping bags.
That we started our way was definitely a good decision because lying around, doing nothing and the thinking of good food all the time slowly was making us crazy.
Tomorrow we will continue our way, maybe in best weather? Our strategies concerning this did not change: hoping and eating up.

[Stefan]

Setting up the camp in wind and snow Setting up the camp in wind and snow

Still bad weather...

April 25th, 2013

Today is the second day on which we sit in the tent and do nothing else but waiting for the weather to get better. In a official meeting in the Lunger's tent we discussed our further strategy. There is so much fresh snow that the avalanche situation does not allow to climb mountains in this area. Frequent noises of avalanches from the nearby slopes do not stop reminding us about this. And it is quite a distance to the point where we will meet Javed, Nazir and the porters. We'll have to be there latest on April 30th in the evening.
That's why the present strategy for the next days looks as follows:
If the weather is good tomorrow or if it gets better during the morning we start towards civilisation, if the weather stays bad, we will definitely start the day after tomorrow. We really hope that it's not too foggy the next days, because without sight it is hard to see crevasses and other dangers on the glacier. And too much fresh snow slows down our pulks, which can result in three or even four days of travel instead of the planned two.
But when we are lucky and the weather is as we wish it to be, we have three days left for ski tours and climbing.
We deeply hope for this and keep eating up our food.

[Stefan]

Food

April 24th, 2013

Today it is snowing the whole day, so we have nothing else to do than sitting in the tent and concentrating on things which can be done on 2.5 square meters (for two persons). Doing this, it would be nice to have a coffee from time to time, or a little snack or just something small to nibble. The thing is, it's just not possible.
The issue "food on expedition" is a thing on it's own.
Before starting the trip it is all about calculating how much food do we take for almost four weeks on the glacier. It must not be too less because nobody wants to starve, but it also must not be too much, because we have to carry every kilogram we take.
Matthias and I did this calculation together. First at home, then again in Islamabad and in Karimabad we reduced the big heap again to save a little weight and volume. There still were very much and very delicious things to eat left.
Now we exactly know what we are allowed to eat every day, so that we have food until the last day of our trip on the glacier. This is our daily menu: for breakfast at 6 am we have one piece of crispbread each, a piece of bacon, about two by two centimeters each, when it's fried it seems to be double as much, plus a piece of cheese, about the same amount. With this comes a pot of tea.
The marching ration looks as follows: two Winforce-Sachets (sports nutrition gel in the flavours coco or hazelnut, each 125 kcal), one chocolate bar, sometimes even two (Balisto, Snickers or Corny) and a handful of nuts. Additionally Winforce in the bottle (valuable 250 kcal). Every second day after setting up the tent we allow ourselves a small snack consisting of a Landjäger sausage, with the cheese we have to be a bit more careful, one crisp bread and tea, sometimes even coffee.
The main dish for the two of us comes in the evening: 250 grams couscous or rice, with this a can of tuna or instead one deer sausage. On special occasions additionally a few dried tomatoes and parmesan cheese.
Until now the food always tasted delicious, we agree that we did not take the wrong things, it could have been just a bit more of everything.
In about a week we meet Javed Ali and his porters, he will bring our cook Nizar and we really look forward to this. Javed and Nizar know better how to scale the amount of food we need, and we are gonna eat, until we are completely fed up.
Bon appettit.

[Stefan]

From Lupke La pass to Snow Lake

April 23rd, 2013

Yesterday morning we started from Lupke La pass, today noon we arrived at Snow Lake.
After the unplanned rest day, the weather was as good as it could be. With a blue sky and in bright sunlight, though still cold and windy, we started the last 20 vertical meters from our camp to the pass. This little distance was unexpectedly exhausting, but looking forward to the coming downhill from the pass we pulled our pulks with joy. Luckily we found a way through the crevasses to the foot of this steep part of the glacier. Hands to the linkage of the pulk and on it went: Straight - because turns were impossible, without slowing down (also not possible with a heavy pulk pushing from behind), over snow covered crevasses until the ride came to it's end on the flat glacier. Pure fun.
From there on we had to pull the pulks on our own again, especially Hansjörg who went first again. On 20 centimeters of fresh snow pulks do not slide on it's own, even when the glacier is slightly descending. The sun made the snow slushy, which brought the next problem. We frequently had to stop to remove the snow sticking on the bottom sides of our pulks.
We did not see crevasses and ice falls when we planned our way from our viewpoint on the pass, but somehow they were there. Again we were lucky and always found a stable snow bridge or a way through to get to the other side. So in early afternoon we set up our tents at a beautiful place between steep granite walls and spectacular ice faces.
For today we had planned to make a bigger distance and therefore expected a long day. But on the icy surface the pulks slided so easily that we already arrived around noon at snow lake, a 45 square kilometer big ice flat.
From here our route follows the Biafo Glacier outwards until Askole. But until we start this section of our journey we have a while and so we will stay at Snow Lake for a few days and use the time for skiing and climbing in the surrounding mountains.

[Stefan]

The last meters to Lupke La pass From the pass down to Sim Gang Glacier and then to Snow Lake

Once again not the main summit & a forced rest day

April 21st, 2013

Yesterday was a day for a ski tour. Actually the weather was against us, but this could not reduce Matthias' motivation. So we started blind, passed crevasses and seracs, always towards the ridge, on this until a gap stopped us. So back, finding an alternative route. Although Tamara and Hansjörg started after us they soon were in front of us, but this must have been because of our detour.
We knew that the Pakistani mountains never make ascents as easy as they first seem to be and so we were not suprised when we had to change from skis to crampons. Right after we reached the summit we realized - this time at least immediately - that it was not the main summit we were standing on. Because of the bad weather we decided not to go to the main summit. So down. Hansjörg and I decided to trust our skis, Tamara and Matthias trusted their crampons. For the second part of the descent we again had to use the GPS and so we came safe to our tents, right on time for coffee and nuts.
Last night it continued snowing and when we opened our tent in the morning we just saw white. On the ground, on the sky and in the air. We had about 40 centimeters of fresh snow and sight was almost zero. No chance to continue our way down the pass or try to climb another mountain. So we couldn't do different than follow an Italian wisdom: "Dolce far niente" is the today's motto

[Stefan]

Tamara and Hansjörg on their way up Again not the main summit, but we are happy anyway (6030 m) A good breakfast is important, also on a forced rest day

Arrival at Lupke La pass (5570 m)

April 19th, 2013

Yesterday we reached the next big goal of our journey on the Karakoram glaciers: We arrived with our pulks at Lupke La pass, 5570 m.
After the sunny and extremely recreative rest day we went down the glacier to our other two pulks, with no sun, but fog, following the track we came up on the GPS. In the afternoon we followed the foggy glacier to the south until it made a turn to the west. The fog made further navigation impossible. The following two days were extremely exhausting because we had to get 700 vertical meters higher to Lupke La pass. Not really steep, but with our heavy pulks and 20 centimeters of fresh snow more than steep enough. For our two World Champions these conditions were not such a big problem, Hansjörg made the track with sheer endless power and endurance. Thanks a lot, Hansjörg, without you we would still be somewhere on the way.
Yesterday afternoon we found a good place to set up our camp, a few meters beneath the pass. There we immediately tried to refill the used energy with tea, bread, ham and cheese.
With the arrival at Lupke La pass we reached a big goal. It is the highest passage on our way from Shimshal to Askole, from here on we won't have big ascents with our pulks any more. Also we have enough time left to use a few days for climbing the surrounding mountains.
Climbing a mountain was also the plan for today. South of the pass there is a approximately 6000 meters high mountain of ice and snow, which we wanted to climb in two teams. We had blue sky and bright sun, but also wind and cold temperatures. Tamara and Hansjörg chose the direct possibility via a icy slope, Matthias and I went to the west face to try this more snow covered variant. Tamara and Hansjörg turned around and went back to the camp when they realized that it was too icy to go with skis, Matthias and me did not trust the snow bridges over big crevasses and also did not want to touch the snow filled slopes because of avalanche danger and therefore went back a bit later. Tomorrow is another day, there are enough summits nearby, for tomorrow we already chose one...

[Stefan]

On the way to Lupke La pass A short rest before the last "steep" section begins Lupke La pass (5570 m) from above (lower margin of th picture)

Two First Ascents in two days

April 15th, 2013

Yesterday and the day before yesterday we started from our camp at the pakistani-chinese border and we were able to make the first ascent of two peaks.
Three days ago we started with heavy backpacks to a 5900 meters high pass with two unclimbed peaks nearby. The last section of our way to the pass was a steep slope which made it hard to judge the danger of avalanches. Stefan and Matthias waited for Tamara and Hansjörg to reach the top of the slope, not to have all four persons in the risky area. Because of the strong sun and the therefore bigger danger, Matthias and Stefan decided in early afternoon to ascent early the next day. So there were two camps, one at the pass and one below the steep slope. The next day the two cameramen reached the others at 7 o'clock in the morning and we all started to the planned peak. We traversed the glacier to get to the base of the mountain. Already after a few hundred meters we could not continue with our skis any more. We had to change to crampons and ice axes and Matthias guided us one pitch over steep ice to snow again. There Hansjörg went first again and found the complicated way through the crevasses to the summit. At 1:45 pm we were the first humans standing on the 6360 meters high top of this unnamed mountain. We were overwhelmed about reaching the first big goal of our trip. In perfect snow conditions we skied down to the glacier, on 50 meters of our descent we had to use the rope.
Although in the following cold night none of us slept well, we started at 7 o'clock to the second unclimbed peak. The two World Champions Tamara and Hansjörg went as one team and Matthias and Stefan as another. The first challenge was to find a way through the massive crevasses to the base of the mountain. Tamara managed to find a way by taking a questionable snow bridge over huge crevasse. Higher up we had to fix our skis on the backpacks and use crampons and ice axes to get higher up. After this section we changed to skis again an at 1:30 pm Tamara and Hansjörg reached the 6420 meters high summit. 45 minutes later the two cameramen Matthias and Stefan arrived at the top. We were very happy to make the second first ascent within two days and after a few minutes we started the ski-descent. It was a great ride in best snow, in one section we used the rope. But not so Hansjörg, he did the very steep and icy part without belay.
Although we were quite exhausted when we reached our camp at the pass, we packed our stuff and went down to our camp at 5160 m.
In the bigger tents, with more oxygen in the air and at higher temperatures we enjoyed the today's rest day very much. Tomorrow we will descent to the Braldu main valley to our two other pulks and then we continue towards Lupke La Pass, our trip's next big goal.

On the way from the Braldu valley to our camp at 5160 m The first First Ascent At the top, 6360 m
The second First Ascent The summit, 6420 m Our present camp at 5160 m

Used to the glacier life, one summit and on the way to untouched ground

April 11th, 2013

Yesterday we had a day which just worked as planned. At 7 am we started to the planned mountain on the way we found the day before. The two responsible for gold medals went first and found the further way to the top, the two responsible for picture and sound followed in a fair distance. At noon we reached the foggy top at an altitude of 5620 meters. That it was not the main summit we found out today. Doesn't matter
The ride down was great and made us wanting more of it.
So we got up early today as well, packed food and equipment for five days into two pulks and started our trip direction east. It was a perfect day, no clouds, five centimeters of fresh powder snow and no nasty crevasses. In the afternoon we arrived at an altitude of 5150 m and set up our tents. The plan for tomorrow is to set up the next camp at a pass, which is close to two unclimbed 6000 meter peaks. For climbing these mountains we plan three days, hopefully we will be able to tell success stories next week.
Until then, we won't be able to update this blog...

Crevasses and icefalls

April 9th, 2013

Against our plan, on Sunday we made one day off to plan our further route. The next day we started early, always towards the mountains. Stefan's morning toilet was the omen for the day. On the way to the secret place his feet disappeared in a nasty crevasse. But he made his way out and finished his mission.
So we started and soon reached the long desired flat glacier with a perfect snow cover and it's many virgin peaks on the horizon. "Just into the one or the other valley, to it's end, up to the ridge, then following it to the yet unclimbed summit."
When we reached the he edge of the glacier at the beginning of the targeted valley we saw the vast surface of the passage. Wide and deep crevasses made a traverse with our equipment impossible. So we decided to head for the next valley. To go on the flat glacier seemed to be safer than close to the big crevasses. Hansjö went first and soon recognized that beneath the snow many crevasses were hiding. Therefore he carefully analyzed the surface on every step.
First Tamara fell into a crevasse, stuck in it up to her chest. Shortly after that, Stefan's pulk disappeared in crevasse, less then ten meters away. Luckily the pulk's linkage did not break and in a complicated and a seemingly endless procedure the pulk could be safed.
Cautiously we surrendered and one hour later we set up our tents in a crevasse-free place on the glacier.
For today we planned a acclimatisation tour to a 5,600 meter peak right in front of our camp. With light backpacks we started to where we thought would be the best place to find a traverse from the glacier to solid ground. And it was the same game again. Many crevasses beneath the thin snow cover, surrender, change of plan: We followed the glacier into the valley south of the mountain to find a way to it's end, where another unclimbed peak stands. It was an exciting ascent through a ice labyrinth, which ended again in front of big crevasses and steep ice walls.
On our way down we once more tried to find a way from the glacier to the slopes of the acclimatisation mountain and eventually found one.
So the plan for tomorrow: Climbing this very one mountain.

Our second camp alone on the glacier The pulk-greedy crevasse "Dead End Road" - no success in the ice fall Our present camp

Trying to find snow and the first day alone on the glacier

April 6th, 2013

The last two days were very exhausting. Yesterday we got up early, hoping to find enough snow for our skis and the pulks. But already at 11 o'clock our porters stopped and set up their tents. No worries, our guide Javed from the Hunza valley told us, after lunch 15 porters should bring us and our equipment to the snow, and then they would go back and leave us on the glacier.
Instead of one and a half hours it took us four, snow was there, but not really as we thought it would be.
But the camp was set up fast and also we slept very well.
The today's morning was used for packing the pulks und so we started early afternoon. As already mentioned, the glacier was not even and covered by snow as expected, therefore we had to find our way somewhere between rock and scree or between the ice towers on the cleft glacier. It was a continuous up an down, not so easy when pulling a 70 kg pulk. Not to forget that for all of us it was the first time pulling a pulk. When Tamara disappeared up to her neck in a crevasse we unpacked the rope, which did not make it easier.
Many turned-over pulks and many frustrating downhills later we arrived at 5:30 p.m. our camp on an altitude of almost 4700 meters.
For tomorrow we hope to reach the flat and snow covered part of the glacier. Then we can eventually think of climbing mountains.
Looking at the beautiful mountains at our side and searching for good and possible lines to the top was probably not only once the cause of a turned-over pulk.

Without our porters the expedition would be impossibleStefan on the last section with portersTamara and Hansjörg on the last section with portersThe first meters with pulks

The drive to Shimshal and the first days in the Pakistani mountains

April 4th, 2013

We left the Karakoram Highway a few days ago. At the Attabad Lake changed from a van to a boat to get dry to the other side. After that a 4WD car became our mean of transport, why, we figured out soon: The road to Shimshal is extraordinary adventurous, not wider than a narrow car. Partly digged into the rock, partly on handmade and cement-free built terraces this road follows for kilometers breathtaking construction, sometimes 100 vertical meters above Shimshal river.
In this fascinating village at an altitude of 3000 meters we spent our last night in real beds. In the following morning we started with our guides, porters and a cook - all in all 30 motivated Shimshali people - towards the mountains.
At the beginning, in the wide valley of the Shimshal river, we thought it's gonna be a smooth travel through decent valleys, but it came different. After the first steep ascent the path got narrow and led into steep rock. Like the road to Shimshal was built for offroad cars, this path was built for "offroad people".
When we arrived the camp it was already dark, the perfect time for enjoying adelicious dinner prepared by our cook Nizar. After this long walk we all slept good and two shorter but not less interesting days brought us to Shujarab, a meadow with a few stone huts on 4350 meters altitude.
Yesterday the 4735 meters high Shimshal Pass was planned. Icy wind, snowfall and an icy path reminded us, that spring has not yet arrived here.
When we saw the Braldu valley and the first meters of it's glacier, we did no more worry about our cold toes.
We set up the camp on 3845 meters close to the frozen Braldu river. Today we started towards the glacier and when we reached it in early afternoon we recognized that we'll need the help of our porters for another day. Today's camp is set up on the glacier, only that there are a few meters of stones and rock between us and the ice.
Tomorrow we hopefully reach the snow and there will leave our guides, our porters and our cook.
We are very much looking forward to travel on skis and with pulks and to the yet unknown life on the glacier.

The road to Shimshal The Pasu valley, first day trekking The path to Shimshal Pass The path to Shimshal Pass
The path to Shimshal Pass Our porters on the way to Shimshal Pass Javed, our trekking guide, behind the camera "Running shoes are not made for 4735 meter high passes, Matz!"
Tamara on the way to Shimshal Pass Hansjörg on the way to Shimshal Pass Shimshal Pass 4735 m The Braldu valley with it's glacier
Our camp after Shimshal Pass The first camp on Braldu glacier, the last with porters

Arrival in Pakistan

March 27th, 2013

We started in snow, then stopped-over in the desert and finally arrived in hot Islamabad.
Unbelievable, how many things can be done ins one single day: landing and checking out from the airport, checking in at the hotel, sleep one and a half nights within four hours, breakfast, deposit money for the rescue helicopter, get a briefing at the Pakistan Alpine Club, lunch part one, unpack and sort the equimpment, lunch part two, repack our stuff and many things more.
The big number of bags made us a bit frightened, although Stefan followed the motto "polenta in stead of trousers" and left his Gore-trousers at home and brought a few more kgs of food.
A clever exchange with Tamara made possible, that all of us will be able to wear trousers when wandering on the Pakistani glaciers.
Tomorrow thursday our travel will be continued at 4 o'clock in the morning, following the Karakoram-Highway we start our way to the far north of the country.

Stopover at Abu Dhabi AirportUnpacking, sorting and repacking our equipmentMatthias worrying about where to put all that stuffTamara and Hansjörg packing

Our expedition route

March 13th, 2013

In less than two weeks our expedition starts. In the following video Matthias describes our expedition route, on which we pass many unclimbed 6000-meter-mountains.
Unfortunately the comment is in German, but enjoy the pictures...

Startnext-Update: The funding phase has started!

March 4th, 2013

On Startnext.at it's getting serious now.
From this day on you can support and become a part of "The Great Crossing" by choosing one of the rewards.
(If we do not reach our funding goal until May 20th, the money will be sent back to the supporters)
 
Besides information from the German Karakoram-expert Wolfgang Heichel, Google Earth and Google Maps made it possible to get an idea of how the unclimbed peaks along our route look like. Here two extraordinary beautiful examples:

Pk. 6635 - Google EarthPk. 6635 - Google MapsPk. 6555

Startnext-Update: We have more than 100 fans!! Thanks a lot!

February 28th, 2013

Six days after we went online with our project on Startnext.at, we reached the first goal: 100 fans!
We are very happy and thank all the people that brought us so far. But now the serious phase is about to start. Next week the funding phase begins and we furthermore hope for many supporters.
 
Meanwhile the preparations for the expedition are running. The equipment is being prepared for the cargo, we are working on our internet-appearance, the flights are booked and we already applied for the visa.
 
On this blog and via Startnext we keep you up-to-date!

What happened so far...

Shooting for the Startnext-film in South Tyrol...

Tamara studying the planned routeHansjörg at the shootingStefan in action"Zjuhuuu!" Matthias filming the arrial at the yoke