Messner Still Trashes Jost Kobusch

Reinhold Messner is back in Nepal for a visit and a couple of inaugurations. The climbing guru had also made time for an interview with the Nepali Times. In the interview, Messner expresses admiration for Nirmal Purja: “I needed 16 years to climb all 14 peaks without oxygen…for this, I give Nirmal great respect, he did it in such a short time. And after this, he went back to K2 and became the first to climb it in winter.”

This is somewhat surprising, Messner is depicted as someone who “takes the message of pure alpine-style climbing around the world.”

No mercy for Kobusch

He does not extend the same admiration for Jost Kobusch, who is also in Nepal, soloing Everest via its West Ridge.

“It is all PR. He has said he only has a 1% chance. If that is so, he should stay in the Alps, do smaller things successfully, or climb the challenging 6,000 or 7,000’ers first,” Messner told the Nepali Times.

However, that is exactly what Kobusch did before considering Everest. In 2014, Ama Dablam became his first Himalayan summit. He became the youngest summiter ever, at 21. He climbed solo in monsoon season and used no safety equipment. You can watch the video here:


Kobusch then climbed Annapurna without O2. Next, he soloed Nangpai Gossum II (7,298m) in 2017. The first ascent of Nangpai Gossum II might not be hard enough for Messner, but apparently it was enough for the Piolet D’or jury members, who shortlisted Kobusch for the award that year.

On his two Everest expeditions, Kobusch has acclimatized both times by summiting previously unclimbed peaks: Amotsang (6,393m) in 2019, and Purbung some weeks ago.

Reinhold Messner in Kathmandu. Photo: The Nepali Times


As for the Everest quest itself, the young German made it above 7,000m in winter 2019-20 and has reached 6,500m already this year. That is, alone, in winter, up the Lho La icefall, and the West Ridge of Everest. It seems ridiculously risky to be a PR stunt.

Kobusch in the media

Undoubtely, Jost Kobusch has courted some controversy with his “hardest ever” climbing style and relentless self-confidence. His sense of what is an acceptable risk is definitely far from average. He is also concerned about his image in the media. But critics don’t usually question his intentions, especially after he survived the first attempt two winters ago.

Kobusch is well aware of Messner’s distaste for him but takes it as a sort of compliment. “You’re only criticized if you don’t do whatever everybody else does; to me, that means that you’re doing something right,” he said in a previous interview with ExplorersWeb. “It fuels me to go and prove the critics wrong.”

In this same vein, Messner should remember how lucky he was that he didn’t follow the advice he has just given to Kobusch. When Messner set off on his own Everest quest in 1978, without supplementary O2, people didn’t even give him and Peter Habeler a 1% chance. Surviving at summit altitude without bottled gas was considered physically impossible until they proved the critics wrong.