Index – Sport – What does it mean to climb alone? Why Everest?

Index – Sport – What does it mean to climb alone? Why Everest?
Index – Sport – What does it mean to climb alone? Why Everest?

Who is Suhajda Szilárd?

The 40-year-old English teacher from Békéscsaba is one of the outstanding figures of Hungarian mountaineering. His love for nature dates back to his childhood, he traveled through the central Hungarian mountains as a high school student in the Great Plains. After moving to Esztergomba, he hiked and climbed mountains in the surrounding countries. Around 2010, together with János Kiss, they formulated that they would go on a larger-scale expedition above 8,000 meters. In order to secure a sufficient financial background, he gave up his teaching career and moved to Great Britain. During the years he spent abroad, following a 7-day-a-week training plan, he continuously prepared himself physically and mentally, while participating in the Hidden Peak expedition (Gasherbrum I).

In 2014, Csaba Varga, a mountaineer from Nagyvárad, climbed the world’s twelfth highest peak, Broad Peak, without using oxygen cylinders.

In 2019, he was the first Hungarian to climb K2, considered one of the most difficult mountains in the world, the second highest peak on Earth, without help or oxygen. In January 2022, he announced that his sporting goal is to conquer the five highest mountain peaks in the world, referred to in the literature as the Big Five. At the next stop in the series, in May 2022, he also successfully conquered Lhoc alone, without help or using an oxygen cylinder.

The next stop of the Big Five is the conquest of Mount Everest, which is now featured prominently in the news, in the same way: alone, without help and without the use of supplemental oxygen. You can read more about this here.

What does it mean to climb alone?

These climbers want to achieve their goals without any external help or supplemental oxygen. According to the world’s most famous climbers, climbing alone provides the greatest experience. When a sportsman is alone in the mountains, he can only rely on himself, which requires at least as much mental preparation as physical. According to the literature, “when we start climbing in the field, the psyche plays a 10 percent role, the other 90 percent is made up of physical preparation. As the terrain becomes more difficult or the higher we go, perhaps we start expeditions – which does take a lot of time – then mental preparation can become more important than the physical part”.

Why was Szilárd Suhajda aiming to climb Mount Everest?

Mount Everest, also known as Mount Everest, is the highest mountain on Earth from sea level. Climbing the Goddess of Earth is part of the Big Five, which the Hungarian sportsman decided to complete.

On the other hand, a Hungarian citizen has not yet completed Mount Everest in this way, despite several attempts, without the help of Sherpas and an oxygen cylinder.

How long have they been climbing this peak?

The highest peak on Earth in 1847 John W. Armstrong discovered by who was then working for the Survey of India. Sir George Everest, who was an English military engineer colonel, finished measuring the peak in 1852, and it was then that it became clear that Csomolungma, known to the English as Peak XV, is the highest peak in the world. Everest’s colleague and successor named the mountain Mount Everest.

The history of the conquest of the peak dates back to the 20th century. dates back to the beginning of the century. The first official, larger attempt was on June 8, 1924 George Mallory and Andrew Irvine to his name, who, however, never returned from the mountain, to this day there is no conclusive evidence as to how high they reached.

In the following decades, countless expeditions tried to reach Mount Everest, and finally, in 1953, the ninth expedition organized by the British, led by John Hunt, was successful. New Zealand on May 29 Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Tendzing Norgaj reached the summit of Everest. According to recollections, Hillary was the first to set foot on the summit.

When did Hungarians climb Everest for the first time?

For a long time, it was believed that Zoltán Demján from Slovakia was the first Hungarian to reach the summit in 1984 as part of a Czechoslovakian expedition. However, Demján himself denied it, calling it a misunderstanding that he was Hungarian.

The first Hungarian Csomolungma expedition was led by Sándor Nagy in 1996. In the end, the expedition did not have the opportunity to mount a summit attack. In 2001, two Hungarian expeditions set out for the mountain. The team attempting the normal Tibetan route of the mountain was led by László Mécs, while the other team climbed the eastern (or Kangshung) wall of Csomolungma, which is considered the most difficult, led by Dávid Klein (Tibet, Kharta Valley). The doctor-climber of the team attempting the Tibetan normal route, dr. Sándor Gárdos lost his life – presumably after a fall caused by a gust of wind. As the first Hungarian, he is finally legendary Strong Psalm peaked in 2002.

Who have been the successful Hungarian climbers so far?

On May 25, 2002 Strong Psalm he reached the summit with an oxygen bottle, he was the 1621st person to reach the Csomolungma. Five years later, on May 23, 2007, with a private organization Attila Jelinkó made it to the top of the world. He used supplemental oxygen from 7,300 meters to the summit.

On May 2, 2009 Come on Anita reached the summit, he used supplemental oxygen from an altitude of 7,950 meters. Although Anita climbed Everest again a year later, in the same way, using oxygen from a height of 7,950 meters.

On May 20, 2016 Emil Neszmélyi He reached the summit from 7,100 meters using an oxygen bottle, and six years later, on May 13, 2022, he reached the highest point on Earth again.

On May 18, 2018, he lives in England Alexandra Németh He climbed Everest from 7,300 meters using an oxygen cylinder. He is the first Hungarian to complete the Seven Summits, the seven mountain summit challenge, i.e. climbing the highest mountain peaks of the seven continents. (In this challenge, it is assumed that North and South America are separate continents, so there are seven mountain peaks in the program, not six.)

on May 14, 2023 Martin Price also reached the summit, using an oxygen cylinder from 7100 meters.

Zsolt Erőss on the summit of the 8,516-meter high Lhoce on May 21, 2011

Photo: László Gál / MTI

Didn’t Szilárd Suhajda reach the top now?

There is currently no clear data on reaching the peak. Tímea Legindi, the expedition’s communications officer and Szilárd’s wife, wrote the following in her Facebook post published on Thursday evening:

However, the closest signal came two hours later, at 19:30 Nepali time, from even higher, at 8,795 meters. This is the height of the Hillary ladder. The summit is only 53 meters away from here, and based on the climber’s movement up to that point, it takes about an hour and a half to climb. This was the last location, the beacon did not send any more positions. Based on its satellite beacon, its highest altitude reached was 8,795 meters. We do not know whether Suhajda reached the summit, but we can clearly say that she is the mountaineer who has so far reached the highest summit of the Hungarians on Mount Everest by “clean climbing”. Its performance is unique in this sense.

What is the difference between climbing without oxygen and climbing with supplemental oxygen?

Climbing journalist László Pintér very aptly put it this way: climbing with a bottle and without a bottle are two different dimensions. It’s like riding the Tour de France on an e-bike.

The fact is that climbing with supplemental oxygen is much safer. The body’s oxygen supply is better, blood that thickens at high altitudes reaches the limbs more easily. Clearer thinking.

Those who climb cleanly, without help, move and think more slowly, and their cognitive abilities are reduced.

Bottle climbers need much less acclimatization and spend less time on the mountain, so they are less exposed to the mountain, since they spend a much shorter time in the avalanche and icefall-risk environment.

László Pintér draws attention to another interesting difference:

it is very important for a bottle climber to have enough oxygen up there and to finish the climb before the bottle is empty, because when the supplemental oxygen is taken away, precisely because of the weaker acclimatization, the person’s condition deteriorates extremely quickly, and if he does not get down as fast as lightning, even may die. On the other hand, those who climb without a bottle constantly experience the real conditions, so they can better detect the signals given by their body and have time to react.

What happens to the human body at an altitude of 8,000 meters?

We wrote a detailed article about this here on Index on Thursday. The most important thing: at this altitude, the air pressure is only a third of that at sea level, and the amount of oxygen is also only a third, and this is so little that, according to the current state of science, the body begins to use up its oxygen reserves, because it is impossible to inhale the sufficient amount from the air. At this altitude, it is almost impossible to sleep and digestion stops, and the risk of pulmonary or cerebral edema skyrockets. If it doesn’t happen, the body still teeters on the edge of collapse, judgment weakens (which results in bad decisions), and loss of consciousness can happen at any time. Death is almost daily above 8,000 meters, and most high-altitude climbers also die in this zone.

Jon Krakauer, one of the world’s best-known mountaineering writers, writes about this: Above eight thousand meters (…) the line between desirable enthusiasm and life-threatening summit fever becomes dangerously thin. That is why so many dead bodies lie on the slopes of Mount Everest.

Are there professional climbers?

Yes, we can consider it a professional level if someone has the appropriate training as a mountain guide and can make a living from this way of life. This is much more difficult and rarer in Hungary than in countries with a traditionally strong climbing tradition and culture.

What do mountain climbers do for a living?

The sport of mountaineering, especially the big climbs in the Himalayas, is extremely expensive. The long preparation, the modern, durable equipment even at -50 degrees Celsius and strong storms, and the acquisition of the appropriate permits cost a lot compared to an average Hungarian salary. And what are climbers made of? Szilárd Suhajda testified about this in an interview:

I try to stand on more than one foot – on the one hand, I try to generate my income through work related to mountain climbing, and on the other hand, from supporter offerings, although the latter can typically be linked to specific expeditions and are sufficient for their implementation. Tour guiding or giving lectures and experience reports can be an independent source of income. This requires a good amount of creativity, organizational skills and not being afraid to perform in front of a large audience – fortunately for me, this does not cause any problems due to my teaching career, and is even inspiring every time. Obtaining subsidies can be much more difficult – based on the classic approach, we take a list and start looking for companies. A small number of them will respond and, if lucky, a meeting can take place where we can tell you our plans. We succeed only in a few cases out of 100, and if they like the expedition idea and see fantasy in such an enterprise, they become our sponsors.

Why climb such dangerous mountains in a life-threatening way?

Many people gave different answers to this. Here and now, we recall three very similar, legendary answers.

Ernest Hemingway: There are only three real sports: bullfighting, car racing and mountain climbing. The rest is just a game.

Zsolt Strong, the first Hungarian to stand on the summit of Mount Everest: Even good climbers can die because accidents can happen. But even among those who don’t make it to the top, people die every day.

Suhajda Szilárd: Mountain climbing is not only a physical achievement, but also a spiritual experience, an experience that allows you to improve a lot, and which you can later use in your everyday life. We also learn a lot about ourselves, as we will inevitably come face to face with our true selves. In the mountains, everything is clear, everything is clear.

(Cover photo: Suhajda Szilárd. Photo: Balázs Mohai / MTI)

The article is in Hungarian

Tags: Index Sport climb Everest


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