Nepalese Expedition: Successful Speed Ascent by Benedikt Böhm and Prakash Sherpa on Himlung Himal
Benedikt “Bene” Böhm and Prakash Sherpa reached their goal of a common speed project on Sept. 4: the summit of Himlung Himal (7,126 meters) in Nepal. DYNAFIT managing director Böhm and the Nepalese mountain guide finished the climb from base camp at 4,850 meters to the summit in just 6 hours and 43 minutes. After a total of 9 hours and 39 minutes underway, the duo arrived back in base camp. Aside from the athletic and mental challenges, the expedition was in the name of friendship and environmental protection: Benedikt Böhm (45) and Prakash Sherpa (29) also traveled in the Terai region after their summit ascent together to bring exposure to the endangered animal world and Nepal’s flora so worthy of protection. This is where WWF is involved in the protection of endangered animal species such as the Bengal Tiger and the Indian Rhino, among others.
In the midst of the largest mountain range in the world, the Himalayas, the starting gun went off on Sept. 4 at 3 a.m. for Benedikt Böhm’s latest speed project: the ascent of 7,128-meter Himlung Himal – climbing 2,253 meters of vert nonstop and then back to base camp. After the two-day approach to base camp (4,850 meters) and a few days for acclimatization, Böhm and his friend and expedition partner Prakash Sherpa started out on the climb to the summit. After the first section on foot, the ascent then continued along the northwest ridge on touring skis. After 6 hours and 43 minutes, they reached the summit. After a short break, they returned on touring skis and on foot to base camp. They were able to cover the total distance of 20.12 kilometers in 9 hours, 39 minutes, setting a new time record for Himlung Himal.
“Until now, no one has attempted to climb Himlung Himal in one day. Normally, expeditions take three days with three high camps just for the time to climb. We had actually planned to start our Speed ascent a day earlier, but extreme rainfall and snow forced us to wait another day. Luckily, on Sunday, we had largely ideal conditions for the climb, although moving through the deep snow at the top with the wind was really exhausting. In the end, we were much faster than planned because we were able to push and motivate each other. Despite frozen fingertips, we had a brilliant view over the Himalaya Mountains that we were able to enjoy briefly from the summit,” said Benedikt Böhm about the successful Speed tour. He was not only very proud about the time achieved but also about completing the route only together with Prakash.
#SPEEDUP FOR TIGERS, RHINOS AND NEPAL’S DIVERSITY
The climb of Himlung had led Böhm back to Nepal – a country with which he has been closely connected for many years: “The diversity of Nepal fascinates me again and again. On the one hand, you have rain forests, raging waterfalls, and unbelievable flora and fauna. On the other hand, huge glaciers and the highest mountains in the world are right at home. The people of Nepal are unbelievably friendly and, although Nepal counts among the poorest countries in the world, the people beam with satisfaction and warmth, as I’ve rarely experienced elsewhere.”
Böhm has acted as a WWF ambassador since spring 2022 to gain exposure for the various initiatives of this respected foundation in Nepal. With this expedition to Himlung, the ski mountaineer would like to bring attention to the effect of people and climate change as well as to WWF in the area. To that end, it is not for the extreme mountaineer about wagging a finger at the environmental sins of people. Rather, it is more about showing how beautiful the world is and that it is well worth taking care of it.
Benedikt Böhm and Prakash Sherpa already started their travels together in mid-August in the Terai region in the country’s south. Together with a WWF delegation, they visited the Chitwan National Park, among others. There, thanks in part to WWF initiatives, the population of the Bengal Tigers has in recent years tripled. Today, more than 350 tigers live in the country’s forests.
An extreme contrast to Nepal’s otherwise impressive outdoors: the immense presence of trash the expedition team was confronted with during the entire stay – not only in the capital city of Kathmandu but also on the sides of roads on the way to Koto and even in the high-alpine terrain. At about 5,500 meters above sea level, Böhm and Sherpa came across old food containers and plastic garbage. With the motto “Cleaner Than Before,” the two alpinists collected several sacks of trash there and made a call for others to always leave the outdoors cleaner than it was before to make a contribution.
SPEED ASCENT: TWO FRIENDS OF THE EXTREME REACH 7,126 METER SUMMIT IN 6 HOURS, 43 MINUTES
Prakash Sherpa is a mountain guide and an experienced alpinist with an impressive background: The 29-year-old grew up as one of six children in a Nepalese village at an elevation of 2,500 meters in the Everest region, an eight-day walk from any drivable roads. He climbed his first 6,000er at just 15 years of age. Since then, he has stood on the summit of several 8,000ers – including Mount Everest, Manaslu and Dhaulagiri – and has turned his passion into a profession. Sherpa is among the few internationally certified mountain guides from Nepal, manages his own company, is a member of the DYNAFIT athlete team, and regularly climbs the highest peaks in the world. After a few years in Europe, today he again lives in Nepal and, as the oldest son in his family, has taken responsibility for the family.
Although the so-called “Roof of the World” is where he is at home, this expedition to Himlung Himal still brought unaccustomed challenges for Prakash Sherpa: “I actually never have anxiety in the mountains. But I am not at all a professional skier. This was for me a new situation – one which I totally had respect for and for which I really had to train. Meaning I am all the more thrilled that everything went as it did, and I am thankful for this special experience in my homeland.”
Böhm, too, was moved by the project together. “Prakash and I have fully different backgrounds. Nevertheless, the same passion for the outdoors, the mountains and sports unites us. A special thank-you to him for the expedition is in order. It was not only a special experience for me to know for me I had Prakash as a strong partner and friend at my side. With him, I had the unparalleled opportunity to experience a deep-dive into the Nepalese culture in the Himalaya.”
Main image: 2,253 meters of vert and 6:43 hours later: Prakash Sherpa and Benedikt Böhm on the summit of Himlung Himal (7,126 meters)
©Mountain Film Crew / DYNAFIT
A LOOK AT PHOTOS OF THE EXPEDITION ON HIMLUNG HIMAL, NEPAL