Anja Blacha: 3 Summits – 3 Learnings

24. August 2023 – Oliver Stoldt

By Anja Blacha

This summer Anja Blacha climbed the 8000m peaks Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum I and Gasherbrum II. Among her takeaways:

Achieving more does not take much more

Climbing one 8000m peak takes a lot of time and effort: Preparation, travel, trekking, acclimatizing, waiting for a weather window, the summit push, and the return. This easily accumulates to 5-8+ weeks. Climbing three 8000m peaks chained up takes only a little more time and effort: The additional summit push, and perhaps some more trekking and waiting. Everything else I can leverage from the first mountain, whereas climbing them separately would take almost the 3-fold amount of time and effort. Leveraging momentum in any context allows us to achieve more without spending much more time and effort.

Take context switching costs: According to some sources, we lose about 40% in productivity to context switching. Imagine adding this to your free time or work successes instead.

Achievement is personal and subjective

The stereotypical climber in the Himalayas? Does not exist. Some are mountaineers since early childhood, others have climbed their first mountain only recently, some maximize safety, others favour independence. They all make their own choices about their climbing style. Some are proud to have summited with personal Sherpas and bottled oxygen. I, for one, was content to have climbed without either, yet followed fixed lines and tracks along the normal routes. Others again would not even consider climbing on a normal route an achievement for themselves, but push for new, challenging routes.

Does that mean that one climber’s summit is worth more than the other’s? Leaving perhaps absolute record statements aside, no, because all climbers started with different backgrounds, abilities, and ambitions. Add to that constantly changing conditions, and it is obvious that achievement can only be understood in its full context. Both, on and off the mountains. Thus, I believe our drive to learn and perform at our best is what matters more.

Climate change is happening rapidly and with severe consequences

This has been my second time in the Karakorum after 2019. Both years have had exceptionally high amounts of snowfall, yet the stark recession of the glaciers was clearly visible. Unsurprisingly, a report has just come out that factualizes these observations:

  • Glacier loss in the Himalayas accelerated by 65% in the past decade.
  • These glaciers may lose 75% of ice by 2100.
  • With that, we can expect significant flooding and water shortages for the ~240 million locals, and the ~2 billion people living downstream of the corresponding rivers.
  • The importance of protecting our glaciers goes well beyond any vain mountaineers’ desires.

Taking action does not need to be just about restrictions in our personal lives, but most of us can bring about change through our work, too – regardless of our role and function.

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Anja Blacha

Adventurer, Extreme Athlete - Expert Resilience, Motivation & Reaching Goals