David Goettler: From No-O2 Everest to an Alpine-Style Winter 8,000’er

David Goettler is currently in Nepal, preparing to tackle a winter 8,000’er in alpine style with Herve Barmasse. It’s been a busy and fulfilling year for the German athlete. Last May 21, he stood alone on the summit Everest, which he had just climbed without supplementary O2. He describes it as the fulfillment of one of his biggest dreams.

Shortly after that climb, Goettler spoke to ExplorersWeb about his achievement. He was already thinking ahead to winter. Below, some of the highlights of that conversation.

First, recall that when Goettler posted about his Everest summit, he quickly noted he had used the fixed ropes and also the ladders across the Khumbu Icefall. He even confessed that he had used an abandoned tent platform on his summit push and accepted a handful of Haribo gummy bears from another climber.

Photo shared on Instagram by David Goettler after his no-O2 Everest climb, showing him clipped to the fixed ropes.

 

“As I see it, this is how mountaineering achievements must be reported,” he explained. “We need to be totally transparent, and at the same time do our best to educate the audiences so that they can tell one climb from another.”

Everybody knows the tricks

“Of course, being on a fixed route with 500 other people walking on it every day makes a huge difference, and everyone who climbs high mountains knows that perfectly well,” Goettler added. “So we should be clear enough to point out if/when we take easier ways to achieve our goals. Not mentioning this is not so different from lying.

“This is why, when I see no mention of whether a person has used O2 or not, I take for granted that they did, even if they made a great effort to conceal their masks on their summit pictures.”

David Goettler during a Zoom interview with Angela Benavides last June.

 

“I don’t think my style is superior to others,” he said. “You may solo a wall or just pull out the quickdraws. You can ride the Tour de France or spend a Sunday on your e-bike, and all of them can be amazing experiences. We just need to be honest about how much it takes to do each activity, especially those advertising themselves as ‘athletes doing some out-of-the-norm‘ — who know very well what a difference some factors make in the difficulty and results of the activity.”

“As long as they’re clear about it, everyone can climb however they please. That’s the allure of mountaineering — that we do not have rules.”

Winter, Goettler-style

Goettler applies the same criteria to winter climbing.

“Again, it is so much about style,” he says.”If you change suddenly the style [in which winter 8000ers were climbed so far], as we saw on K2, the options for success increase.”

Goettler wants to do this upcoming winter climb in his own way, which is alpine style.

Barmasse takes a selfie of himself and Goettler, with peaks in background.

Herve Barmasse (left) and David Goettler in the Khumbu Valley earlier this week. Photo: Herve Barmasse/Instagram

 

His climbing partner Herve Barmasse shares his ideals. The pair will soon reveal whether they are heading to Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, or back to Nanga Parbat.

“We want to return to Nanga Parbat, for sure,” Goettler told ExplorersWeb in that interview earlier this year. “We feel it can be done as long as we get a long enough windless window.”

Goettler also explained why the pair chose the huge Rupal Face last winter. “For us, it is the easiest route to climb Nanga Parbat in winter,” he said. “It is long but well-sheltered from the wind until the Mazeno Col. And it’s in the sun, unlike the Diamir side in winter, which is like a freezer.”

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides is a college-graduated journalist specializing in high-altitude mountaineer and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.