Shishapangma : Expedition Life

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The images we’re all used to seeing from climbing in the Himalaya are from just a very small piece of the overall experience. All the many things that go on leading up to, around, and after are the vast majority of where time goes on an expedition. We joined Ueli Steck and David Göttler for their 2016 Shishapangma Expedition, the focus of which was to climb a new route on the remote south face.

A terrible spring weather pattern played a huge role in how the trip would play out. More often than not we woke to fresh snow and cloudy, threatening weather. There were a few encouraging forecasts that got Ueli and David’s hopes up, but these would quickly deteriorate as the time drew near. In the end, there was a lot of time spent not climbing. Thankfully, the basecamp in which we found ourselves for 5 full weeks was a mountain paradise, full of bouldering and peak hiking.

The final result wasn’t all bad. Ueli and David made two one day efforts on Shishapangma via different routes, both in true alpine style, but both hampered by bad weather. For Janine and I, we spent 5 weeks documenting the experience by photographing only real moments.

  • Date: Spring 2016
  • Client: Athlete Sponsors
  • Filed under: Projects
Hiking into the remote, and seldom visited south face of Shishapangma, Tibet. 17 yaks were needed to carry the provisions for 6 people for 5 weeks.
Hiking in to the remote, and seldom visited south face of Shishapangma, Tibet. 17 yaks were needed to carry the provisions for 6 people for 5 weeks.
Ueli Steck taking notes
Ueli Steck sits writing in his journal next to one of the yak men during the walk in to basecamp.
The south face of Shishapangma.
The south face of Shishapangma.
David Göttler doing yoga
David Göttler stretching in basecamp.
Ueli Steck and David Göttler hiking in the Himalaya
An acclimatization day above basecamp to 6000 meters in rapidly deteriorating weather.
Ueli Steck climbing an alpine ridge
Ueli Steck on an alpine ridge in cloudy weather during the acclimatization process .
Ueli Steck gearing up in his tent
Endlessly motivated, Ueli Steck gets dressed and ready inside his tent for a mountain run from basecamp.
Ueli Steck on an acclimating run
Ueli Steck on an acclimatization training day above basecamp.
Ueli Steck and David Göttler inside their advance basecamp
Ueli Steck and David Göttler inside their advance basecamp tent.
Ueli Steck on an acclimatization climb, next to Shishapangma
Ueli Steck on an acclimatization climb. Photo David Göttler
Ueli Steck bouldering in the Himalaya
Ueli Steck bouldering near basecamp.
Ueli Steck bouldering in the Himalaya
Ueli Steck walking off the top of a boulder while bouldering near basecamp.
Shishapangma expedition puja
A puja was performed by our Nepali and Tibetan support team prior to David and Ueli’s first attempt to climb. The puja is a Buddhist blessing.
Ueli Steck and David Göttler packing climbing gear
Ueli Steck and David Göttler packing climbing gear at basecamp
David Göttler using binoculars
David Göttler using binoculars to look at Shishapangma from advance basecamp.
Ueli Steck and David Göttler at advance basecamp
Ueli Steck and David Göttler inside their tent at Shishapangma’s advance basecamp relaxing and waiting for a weather window to climb
Ueli Steck at Shishapangma's advance basecamp
Ueli Steck looking out the tent door at Shishapangma’s south face.
Ueli Steck climbing on Shishapangma
Ueli Steck climbing on the original route on the south face of Shishapangma, the British Route. Photo David Göttler
David Göttler in tent after Shishapangma climb
David Göttler at advance base camp tent drinking water, and exhausted, after returning from a one day push on Shishapangma