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It all started with this picture on 1 April 2010

With a big tear in my eye I close my blog “Abenteuer Sport” today. After almost nine years (six years for the English version “Adventure Sports”) it’s over. The blog had to be terminated for technical reasons, decided the responsible persons of DW. In this form, the blog did not fit any more into the new, sharpened DW profile, it said.

I would like to thank you very much! You climbers and other adventurers who have always been open to me in the past years. You loyal readers who motivated me to continue with your encouraging comments. And you donators for our aid project “School up!” who made the reconstruction of the school in Thulosirubari possible after the devastating earthquake in Nepal in 2015.

We haven’t yet reached the finish line in this small mountain village. This is one of the reasons why I have decided to continue to report in the same familiar way about what is happening on the highest mountains of the world – in my new, now completely private blog “Abenteuer Berg” (Adventure Mountain). I hope you feel well informed and entertained there too. Most likely I won’t be able to keep up with the number of blog posts I wrote for “Adventure Sports”. But I do my best. And in a modification of the old French formula the heralds used to proclaim the death of the king, I say: The blog is dead, long live the blog!

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Alex Txikon on the Abruzzi route

What bad luck! Only with delay Waldemar Kowalewski from Poland – as reported – had joined the team of the Spaniard Alex Txikon. And now the K2 winter expedition has already ended for the 45-year-old. Kowalewski had been hit by a stone or a block of ice on his left collarbone on his descent from Camp 1 at about 6,100 meters to the Advanced Base Camp. “He had to go down at a slow pace but he feels calmer now at Base Camp,” Txikon’s team announced after the incident. Waldemar was flown out to Skardu today. Then the rescue helicopter picked up another Pole from Txikon’s team: Marek Klonowski had heart problems and could therefore no longer stay in the base camp at the foot of the second highest mountain in the world. He hopes to be able to return in about ten days.

Two tracks on one route?

Climber from the Pivtsov team

Alex Txikon has now finally decided to make no attempt via the still unclimbed K2 East Face. The ascent through the wall was “impossible” because it was too dangerous, the 37-year-old said. The team had equipped their route to Camp 2 at 6,700 meters via the Abruzzi Spur, Alex’ team said. It is not clear to me why this was necessary. After all, the team from Kazakhstan, Russia and Kyrgyzstan, led by Vassiliy Pivtsov, had already secured this route before. “Near us, Sherpas are fixing ropes parallel,” Pivtsov’s team informed on Sunday. Is Txikon’s team trying to signal that they are climbing  independently of the other team? On the same route? If the cap fits, wear it. According to Pivtsov and Co., they reached an altitude of 6,800 meters today. Tomorrow they want to climb further up.

Tent disappeared

Camp 2 after snowfall

On Nanga Parbat Italian Daniele Nardi, Briton Tom Ballard and their Pakistani companions Rahmat Ullah Baig and Karim Hayat do not have to worry about a possible competitive situation. They are alone on the mountain. The recent heavy snowfalls – a meter and a half of fresh snow in three days – have set the team back in their efforts to open a new route via the striking Mummery Rib in the Diamir Face. After Nardi and Ballard reached again Camp 3 at 5,700 meters yesterday, they searched in vain for the tent they had left there on their last ascent. Today, Tuesday, they wanted to be back at base camp to discuss how to proceed.

Moro and Pemba Sherpa give up on Manaslu

Shovel for all you’re worth

Meanwhile, Simone Moro and his Nepalese partner Pemba Gyalje Sherpa have abandoned their winter expedition on the eight-thousander Manaslu and let themselves be flown out of the base camp by helicopter. “Over the last few days the aim of reaching my fifth summit in winter was transformed into surviving this situation,” Simone writes today on Facebook. It would take at least two or three weeks of sunshine for the six meters of fresh snow to settle, says the Italian adding that the weather forecast is anything but good. For Moro, it was a deja vu: Also in winter 2015, Moro had fled from the snow masses on Manaslu, at that time in a team with the South Tyrolean Tamara Lunger.

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Tima Deryan

She does not fit into the clichés that many people in the West have of Arab women. Fatima, called Tima, Deryan does not stand in the shadow of a man. She is cosmopolitan, self-confident and independent. She has founded a company in Dubai where she lives – and she is a mountaineer: Tima has already scaled five of the “Seven Summits”, the highest mountains of all continents. Mount Everest and Mount Vinson in the Antarctica are still missing from her collection.

On 23 March, the 26-year-old will fly to Nepal to climb the highest mountain on earth. On the trek to Everest Base Camp, Tima will certainly pay special attention to the yaks. In October 2017 on her way to Island Peak, she was attacked by a yak when she had just crossed a bridge over the Dudh Kosi between Phakding and Namche Bazaar. She was flipped over by the yak. The horns hit her at the thigh, Deryan was slightly injured.

Tima, how did you become a mountaineer?

On the summit of Aconcagua (in 2017)

I was born in Kuwait, my family moved to Lebanon when I was two years old and then moved to Dubai when I was nine years old. I‘ve been always into sports in general. During my teenage, I was into bodybuilding and then started bungy jumping by the age of 16. I then started my scuba diving and got my advanced PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) license, then I thought I should also get my skydiving license and I did.

In 2015 I attended a speech by Omar Samra, the first Egyptian man to climb Everest (in 2007) and I was reminded about my goal: I’ve always wanted to climb Everest ever since I was 14. I have visited Nepal five times and flew over Everest twice and I always said I will climb to the top of this mountain one day. So I took the first step to see if I like mountaineering or not and took off to climb Mount Elbrus in Russia. This was when I got hooked and my mountaineering journey started.

How would you describe your character?

I’m am a strong woman both physically and mentally. I love laughing and I enjoy the simple things in life. I‘m a minimalist, so to me it’s all about the experience rather than material. I have two jobs when I’m not on the mountain, one is in finance, the other is my own business which means I work hard for my money.

I‘m a loud person when I’m happy and I try to control it. I would consider myself between both an extrovert and introvert at this stage in life. Mind over matter is what I believe in. A positive, balanced and happy life is what I try to achieve all the time.

On the ladder across a crevasse (on Island Peak)

Which of your qualities do help you the most in the mountains?

Believing that I’m strong, being positive and laughing (especially when the altitude hits me) and of course now that its all about mind over matter which I actually tattooed on my hand as a reminder.

What does mountaineering mean to you today?

I honestly wish mountaineering is my job but this doesn’t work in my world. My dreams are big and I need to earn a lot to be able to achieve them. So now mountaineering for me is a run away from the standard city life and mainstream world. It‘s when I refill all my positive energy and boost my confidence. It‘s when I’m in peace with myself and I push all the limits happily. It‘s when I rebalance my thoughts and mentally heal. Mountaineering is literally my heaven on earth and happy place.

How do you prepare for Everest?

While rock climbing

Given that Everest has been a long time dream of mine, when I decided that I want to do it, I discovered that it takes about two months! As a newbie, I continued climbing for three years until I gained confidence and learned enough to take such a decision.

As for training, I do my strength training from 6am to 7am then I’m off to a long day at work. I come back and do my HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) in the evening.

I run ten kilometers one or two times a week, do indoor climbing two, three times a week and I’m always hiking over the weekend.

How do you finance the expedition?

I’m a minimalist, I live with my family so I really do not spend much of what I earn. Everything goes into mountains and trips. As for Everest, it is a launching event for my new company Yalla Cleaning (an online portal for cleaning industry). Part of my initiative is contributing to cleaning Everest, so currently working with the Nepalis on how I can help to bring the trash off the mountain through a system.

South side of Mount Everest

What are your expectations for Everest?

I think anyone wanting to climb a mountain would have the ultimate goal of reaching the top. For Everest, my ultimate goal is definitely reaching the top but I am very well aware that things might go against my expectations. The fact that I have the chance to spend around 50 days on the mountain, be there and live the experience, it is way too beautiful. But to top the cake with the cherry, it’ll be great to come back home with the summit! So I really do not have a lot of expectations besides – expecting the cold, stainless-steel ladders, Khumbu Icefall, crevasses, and the epic basecamp life!

A woman as a mountaineer – there are not many in the male-dominated Arab world. What resistance did you have to overcome?

I always say the Arab world is in a transition phase. It is true that it is male-dominated but women are rising up in all domains. Women in the Middle East are achieving the impossible whether it is in fitness, business, culture, music and entertainment.

Nepal, I’m coming

As I started my mountaineering journey, it was difficult to convince my family to travel alone knowing that I will be disconnected and they might not hear from me for a while. It was very hard for them to accept it but I managed to convince them. Otherwise, I did not really face a lot of difficulties kick-starting my passion.

As for society, I usually have a lot of respect from both men and women when they know what I go through to reach the peak. Just like in any other part of the world, some people think I’m too crazy and my future will be complicated. I don’t really bother explaining instead I climb more and prove them wrong. It’s all about action at the end of the day.

How do Arab men react to your mountain successes, how do Arab women?

Both Arab men and women react in a beautiful way towards my summit successes. It makes me so happy to hear “we are proud of you”. I must say, I do get challenged by some men when it comes to fitness so they can prove a point. I accept it for fun. Whether I lose or win doesn’t matter but I make sure my message goes through which is: Women are strong creatures with a high pain threshold.

Is there also a message that you want to give to Arab women by climbing Everest?

On expedition (to Denali)

Yes. Through my Everest climb I would like to demonstrate that an Arab woman is able to fight all sorts of limitations that society imposes upon her. She can earn her freedom only by action. If she wants something she must work really hard to get it! Being strong does not mean not being feminine enough. Being strong is way more attractive than being “soft”.

Arab women are still going through the phase of being independent and doing anything on there own. Most women still find it difficult to date to depend solely on themselves. So If I can climb Everest and depend on myself on the mountain then they can do anything. All it takes is courage and hard work.

I want Arab women to know that they are beautiful, they are strong and they can conquer the world. But only with the right mindset.

P.S.: By the way, the first Arab woman on Everest was the Palestinian Suzanne Al Houby, who reached the highest point at 8850 meters in spring 2011.

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Igloos in K2 Base Camp

Bad weather forces the climbers of the winter expeditions on the eight-thousanders K2 and Nanga Parbat in Pakistan and on Manaslu in Nepal to inactivity. The team from Kazakhstan, Russia and Kyrgyzstan led by Vassiliy Pivtsov returned to K2 Base Camp yesterday after the seven climbers, according to their own words, had fixed ropes on the classical Abruzzi route up to an altitude of 6,300 meters. The Spaniard Alex Txikon’s team has not yet ascended, but built in the base camp three igloos, in which a total of ten to 14 people can sleep. Alex was thrilled after his first igloo night.

“Best night of my eight winter expeditions”

Alex Txikon in front of his sleeping place

“In the dining tent we had temperatures of minus 13 degrees Celsius, in the normal tent minus 26 degrees, but in the igloo we slept at minus five degrees,” reported the 37-year-old. “I must say it was the best night of my eight winter expeditions. When you go from the dining tent to the igloo, all your muscles freeze, your hands get stiff and the wind blows in your face. But when you enter the igloo, silence returns, the sound of the wind disappears.” The team is considering building igloos in the Advanced Base Camp (ABC) too.

Even longer snowfall at Nanga Parbat

Daniele Nardi during the ascent

On K2, the second highest mountain on earth, snowfall is predicted at least until Wednesday morning local time, at Nanga Parbat possibly even until the weekend. There the Italian Daniele Nardi and the British Tom Ballard had reached an altitude of 6,200 meters last week in their attempt to completely climb through the so-called “Mummery Rib”, a striking rock spur in the Diamir Face, for the first time. “Well, what did you expect? It is winter on the ninth highest peak in the world. No picnic,“ Tom wrote on Facebook.

Crevasse stops Moro and Pemba

We can’t go on here

Also on the eight-thousander Manaslu in Nepal no other picture: “Snow, snow, snow …,” writes Simone Moro today from the base camp. “Hopefully it will stop soon, but as per the weather forecast by Karl Gabl (a well-known meteorologist from Austria) it will snow till 29th.” On Sunday, the 51-year-old Italian had let us known that he and his Nepalese climbing partner Pemba Gyalje Sherpa were forced to rest and think about a new plan because of the bad weather: “There’s maybe one way to avoid the problems we faced today.” The two had climbed up to 6,400 meters, but had then been stopped by a crevasse that, according to Simone, “can be overcome only with ladders (that we don’t have and in any case we would not use).”

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This is where the game is to be played

Mount Everest has long been an event venue. Thus in 2009, the Nepalese government moved a cabinet meeting to the base camp at the foot of Mount Everest to attract media attention. Also there the British DJ Paul Oakenfold gave a benefit concert in 2017. Last year a British star chef organized the “world’s highest dinner party” on the Tibetan north side of Everest: exclusive dining on the North Col at about 7,000 meters, with a white tablecloth, candlestick and champagne. And it goes on. Next spring, Everest will probably host the highest rugby match of all time.

Two Guinness book entries?

Ollie Philipps on a trekking in the Nepalese Everest region

Former and current British rugby stars Lee Mears, Ollie Phillips, Shane Williams and Tamara Taylor alongside 20 players are set to make two entries in the Guinness Book of Records: the highest game of full contact rugby and the highest game of touch rugby between mixed teams of women and men. Touch Rugby is the variant of the sport without hard body contact to keep the risk of injury low. The game is to be played near the Advance Base Camp (ABC), on a snow plateau at an altitude of 6,500 meters, located between the 7045-meter-high Lhakpa Ri and Everest. The organizers are still looking for some players.

Help for handicapped and disadvantaged children

More important than the records: The campaign is intended to flush money into the coffers of the aid organization “Wooden Spoon”, which supports disabled and disadvantaged children in Great Britain and Ireland. Mears and Phillips were already involved in the “Arctic Rugby Challenge” in 2015. At that time, a team had played rugby at the magnetic North Pole to raise money for “Wooden Spoon”.

ARCTIC RUGBY CHALLENGE - THEY DID IT! MAY15 - YouTube

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Jost Kobusch in Alaska

US President Donald Trump has also slowed down Jost Kobusch with his shutdown of the federal administration. The German climber was suddenly standing in front of a locked door in Talkeetna in Alaska. Jost read on a sign behind the glass pane that the rangers’ office was closed “due to the lapse in funding of the federal government budget”. The Denali National Park administration sent an email to the 26-year-old informing him that he would probably not receive any more news due to the shutdown for the time being. “Just watch the news,” he was recommended.

“Government bullsh..”

Kobusch had planned to climb solo the 6,190-meter-high Denali, the highest mountain in North America, this winter. He had completed all the formalities – except for the visit to the Ranger station in Talkeetna. One and a half years preparation a dog’s breakfast. “It’s kind of a very big failure,” Jost told the Canadian TV station KTVA (see the video below). “It’s one thing if you are on a mountain and its windy and you are forced to return by storm. It’s another thing if you are forced to return because of some government bullshit.” In order not to have to travel home to Germany empty-handed, Kobusch at least wanted to climb the 3,773-meter-high mountain Kahiltna Queen in winter. “I’ll climb some other stuff, prepare myself and come back next year,” Jost announced.

Federal shutdown prevents winter summit of Denali - YouTube

In 2015, Kobusch had become well known all over the world. The young German had shot a video of the giant avalanche – triggered by the devastating earthquake on 25 April 2015 – which had destroyed the base camp on the Nepali side of Mount Everest and had killed 19 people. In spring 2016, Kobusch scaled Annapurna, his first eight-thousander – without bottled oxygen. In fall 2017, Kobusch, climbing solo, succeeded the first ascent of the 7296-meter high Nangpai Gosum II in eastern Nepal. Last fall, Jost according to his own words opened a new route on the Carstensz Pyramid, with an altitude of 4,884 meters the highest mountain in Oceania. Denali should become his next solo attempt on one of the “Seven Summits”, the highest peaks of all continents. But Trump couldn’t care less about climbers. But who does he actually care about?

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Daniele Nardi in Camp 3

While the winter expedition teams at the eight-thousanders K2 and Manaslu have only just moved into their base camps, the Italian Daniele Nardi and his three companions on Nanga Parbat are in a more advanced phase. Today Daniele, the Brit Tom Ballard and the two Pakistani mountaineers Rahmat Ullah Baig and Karim Hayat ascended again to Camp 3 at 5,700 meters, directly below the Mummery Rib. Five days ago, the four climbers had deposited a tent there and then returned to base camp.

Second attempt

Position of Camp 3 below the distinctive Mummery Rib

Tom and Karim broke the trail, Daniele and Rahmat followed carrying heavy equipment, Nardi’s team wrote today on Facebook. “Today it was really hard to get from Camp 1 to Camp 3 with a 30kg backpack on our shoulders and the wind that was not helping us”, Daniele told by radio. “When we reached the tent, we found it submerged under snow. We worked hard to put things straight again.”

Nardi and Co. want to climb the complete Mummery Rib for the first time. In 1895, the British pioneer Albert Frederick Mummery had dared the first serious attempt on an eight-thousander via the distinctive rock spur in the Diamir Face. With the Gurkha Ragobir he had reached an altitude of 6,100 meters. Nardi tries this route for the second time: In winter 2013, he had climbed with the Frenchwoman Elisabeth Revol up to about 6,400 meters.

K2 Base Camp reached

K2 team from Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

Meanwhile, the seven climbers of the K2 winter expedition from Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have set up their base camp at an altitude of around 5,200 meters at the foot of the world’s second highest mountain. After arriving there yesterday, four team members turned towards Advanced Base Camp today, but were unable to reach the spot due to bad weather.

Today the two Poles Marek Klonowski and Pawel Dunaj reached K2 Base Camp too, as the first climbers from the team of the Spaniard Alex Txikon. The majority of the members, including Txikon, are expected there on Wednesday. Waldemar Kowalewski,, the third Polish climber, will join the team in a few days. The 45-year-old has scaled three eight-thousanders so far: Mount Everest in 2014, Lhotse and Broad Peak in 2017. According to the chronicle “Himalayan Database”, he reached the 8,125-meter-high Subpeak of Manaslu in 2016.

Moro and Pemba Sherpa at Manaslu Base Camp

Base camp at the foot of Manaslu

The Italian Simone Moro and the Nepalese Pemba Gyalje Sherpa have moved to their base camp at the eight-thousander Manaslu in western Nepal. After having previously climbed the six-thousander Mera Peak in the Khumbu region to acclimatize, they yesterday were flown by helicopter from Kathmandu directly to the base camp at 4,800 meters. “Due to the snow porters cannot walk till here,“ Simone wrote on Facebook on Monday. “Weather conditions are good, definitely better than 2015. Of course, it’s a bit cold. Today it’s minus 25 degrees Celsius. Let this adventure begin!” In 2015, the 51-year-old and the South Tyrolean Tamara Lunger had failed on Manaslu due to the enormous snow masses of that winter.

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Furdiki Sherpa (l.) and Nima Doma Sherpa (r.)

Mount Everest took their husbands. And the fathers of their children. Nevertheless, Nima Doma Sherpa and Furdiki Sherpa want to climb the highest mountain on earth this spring. “We are doing our expedition for the respect of our late husbands because they were mountaineers too,” Nima Doma replies to my question about the purpose of their project. “And we want to motivate all the widows.” Everest has left a lot of single mothers behind. According to the mountaineering chronicle “Himalayan Database”, 37 Sherpas have died there in the past 20 years alone. Furdiki’s husband, Mingma Sherpa, belonged to the so-called “Icefall Doctors” who set up and secure the route through the Khumbu Icefall every year. The 44-year-old died in a fall into a crevasse on 7 April 2013. One year later, on 18 April 2014, Nima Doma Sherpa’s husband, Tshering Wangchu Sherpa, was one of the 16 Nepalese victims of the major avalanche accident in the Icefall

Move to Kathmandu

During the ascent on Island Peak

When Everest’s fate struck, the two Sherpanis each worked in the small tea houses of their families: Furdiki in Dingboche, a small village in the Everest region at 4,340 meters, Nima Doma in Khumjung, further down the valley at 3,780 meters. Their income was too low to make ends meet for their children in the long run. Both moved to Kathmandu and started working as porters and later guides of trekking groups. Furdiki wanted to give her children greater opportunities for the future than she could finance herself. The 42-year-old found adoptive parents in the USA for her three daughters, who are now 14, 17 and 20 years old. Nima Doma has a ten-year-old son and an eight-year-old daughter. When the 34-year-old is on the road as a trekking guide, her mother looks after the children in Kathmandu.

On top of two six-thousanders

Nima Doma (l.) and Furtiki in the climbing wall

In order to prepare for their “Two Widow Expedition”, Nima Doma and Furdiki attended several climbing courses of the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA). Last November they scaled the 6,584-meter-high Chulu East in the Annapurna region and the 6,189-meter-high Island Peak in the Everest region, two popular trekking peaks. Is that enough experience for Everest? I asked the two Sherpani if they were not afraid that something might happen to them on the highest mountain on earth and that their children would then be orphans. “We are not afraid of the mountains because we believe we gain basic technic that is need in the mountains and well wishes from all the people who know us and our story,” replies Nima Doma Sherpa. “Every mother loves her children and so do we. But after the death of our husbands all the responsibility suddenly lay on our shoulders. We want to show our children that we can be independent. This will motivate them and make them proud.”

P.S. Nima Doma and Furdiki still need more money to finance their expedition. On 19 October, they will be hosting a fundraising dinner party in a hotel in Kathmandu. If you want to support the two Sherpani, you can also send them money online. Here is the link to their crowdfunding campaign.

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Alex Txikon (l.) and Simone Moro in Lhukla

Several winter expeditions in the Himalayas and Karakoram started in the first days of the year. Two of the three climbers who had succeeded the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat in 2016 met in Lhukla in Nepal, however now with different goals: The Spaniard Alex Txikon wants to tackle K2 in Pakistan, the last remaining eight-thousander to be climbed for the first time in the cold season, the Italian Simone Moro is drawn to Manaslu again. The 51-year-old and the South Tyrolean Tamara Lunger had failed on the 8167-meter-high mountain in western Nepal in 2015 because of the enormous snow masses of that winter. This year, according to the Kathmandu-based newspaper “The Himalayan Times”, Moro plans to climb with the Nepalese Pemba Gyalje Sherpa on the normal route without bottled oxygen. In order to acclimatize, they wanted to climb the 6,476-meter-high Mera Peak in the Khumbu region.

Also two Poles in Txikon’s K2 team

Alex Txikon meanwhile travelled with his Sherpa team to Islamabad. There he meets his Spanish climbing partner Felix Criado and other compatriots from the K2 expedition team – as well as the Poles Marek Klonowski and Pawel Dunaj. Both have participated several times in winter expeditions to Nanga Parbat. “We will certainly not play the first fiddle if we play the fiddle at all,” said Pawel in an interview with the Polish radio station “RMF 24”. “But we will try to support Alex as much as we can.”

Only seven climbers left in Pivtsov’s team

Pivtsov’s team in Islamabad

While Txikon’s team grew, the K2 winter expedition team from Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan shrank from eleven climbers – as originally planned – to seven, due to lack of money. Now the experienced Kazakh Vassily Pivtsov, who has already scaled all 14 eight-thousanders, will lead only six climbers: the Russians Artem Brown, Roman Abildaev and Konstantin Shepelev, the Kazakh Tursunali Aubakirov and Dmitry Muraviov and the Kyrgyz Mikhail Danichkin. The mountaineers from the former CIS states are on their way to Northern Pakistan.

Nardi and Ballard in Camp 1

Daniele Nardi on Nanga Parbat

Still in the old year the Italian Daniele Nardi and the Brit Tom Ballard arrived in the base camp at the foot of Nanga Parbat. As reported, they want to climb together with the two Pakistani Rahmat Ullah Baig and Kareem Hayat the 8125-meter-high mountain on a new route via the Mummery Rib in the Diamir Face, which has not yet been mastered. They already reached Camp 1 at 4,700 meters.

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I wish you all an amazing, eventful and peaceful year 2019 – full of adventures, in the mountains or elsewhere. Live your dreams – and keep cool!

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