“The emotions only started to come during the descent”18. July 2018
Our colleague Simon Essig dared to undertake a challenge which few people dare to do: the alpinist summited the Island Peak – one of the six-thousanders of the Himalayas. Determination, endurance and prudence helped Simon reach the peak. These are qualities that are also indispensable to him at fischer.
One step forward, half a step back. Will I make it? is the question that is going through Simon Essig’s mind as he battles his way to the Island Peak summit (6,189 metres) in the Everest mountain range – while sinking in again and again. The reason is that 20 cm of fresh snow had fallen that morning. Snow dunes are impeding the steep ascent. Many would have abandoned the expedition, but Simon is motivated by the adverse conditions: he prepared for this challenge for a long time – and wants to face it with a cool head.
Three month’s preparation
The path through wind and ice at over six thousand metres above sea level is not an easy one. The 31-year old prepared for the three-week trip in May 2018 for three months. He ran 250 kilometres on the treadmill and improved his stamina in the fischer fitness studio. A friend from his high school days accompanied him to Nepal, where they met a local mountain guide and two sherpas.
Simon had already taken part in a Himalayan trekking tour last year, but he wanted to develop his skills further. “Reaching personal boundaries and pushing them further – that’s what motivates me”, says Simon. He learnt two lessons from his initial excursion: this time he packed a sleeping bag for extreme temperatures of up to -44 degrees Celsius – and even sturdier shoes. “Freezing in those heights is not much fun”, he says with a grin. “And good footwear is a life insurance”.
Arriving at the mogul slope
Simon’s exceptional mountain hike begins with a risky arrival, one that cannot be avoided: the airport in Lukla, Nepal, is known as one of the most dangerous in the world. It is also described as an “Altiport” due to its high location at 2,800 metres. From here, Simon reaches Namche Bazar – the gateway to the Khumbu region – through a series of mountain passes. For Simon, this is the point of departure for his expedition.
Regaining strength at the foot of the mountain
Over the next few days, the path takes the group past mountain lakes and through rugged valleys. Day by day they get used to the thin, icy air and temperatures far below zero. By the time they reach the foot of the Island Peak, they are at a height of around 5,000 metres – time to gather all their strength for the ascent.
Ascending using visual estimates
The time has finally come: the summiteers set off at 1 in the morning. Despite his determination and ambition, Simon remains prudent: “the aim isn’t to get to the top, but to get back down again safely”. Inhaling and exhaling becomes increasingly difficult – but Simon is on high alert. The group traverses crevasses that are 50 metres deep across wobbly ladders. But the hardest pass still lies ahead of them: the previous night’s heavy snowfall is giving them a hard time, causing their shoes to sink in. “Everything has to be in place”, says Simon. “The technology, the safeguard. Each wrong step could have consequences”.
Taking a deep breath on the roof of the world
Simon and his group climb for eight hours – conquering 1,100 metres in altitude. Then he has arrived at the highest point at 6,189 metres. Jumping for joy on the roof of the world is not recommended: summits are inhospitable areas. It is freezing cold and windy. “You have to take time for a picture”, he laughs. “But you shouldn’t stand still for too long”. The weather can turn at any moment – and you cool off at a dangerously fast rate. After a few hundred metres on the way down the tension lifts. “The emotions only started to come during the descent”, says Simon. Looking back at the peak almost seems surreal: “That’s where I was today? It takes time to grasp that”. It takes Simon and his companions seven hours to descend from the summit. After a total of 15 hours following their initial departure in the early morning, they safely reach the next location.
A real fischer original …
… of the DUOPOWER variety, a high-performance anchor, was taken along to Nepal by Simon, who photographed it in front of the breathtaking backdrop of the Island Peak. Simon himself is a “fischerian” through and through, and has had a connection to the company since he was a child. His father worked for fischer for 45 years, while Simon has been with the company for 11 years. He has worked in the technology metal production department since completing his dual course of study in machine engineering. Today, Simon is a Team Leader. The challenges in his daily working life at the Tumlingen site and at the steep, snow-covered slopes of the Himalayas may be different, but the strengths that lead to the goal both here and there appear to be the same: “curiosity, impetus, and the will to challenge yourself”, says Simon. “That’s what it comes down to”.