March 9-11, 2000

From the site editor

For several years there has been a lasting controversy in Western media concerning the Dutch climber, Bart Vos. His claims about making a solo ascent of Dhaulagiri in 1996 along a new route from the East, and summiting Mt. Everest alone in 1984 via the classic way from the South have been thrown into doubt. The debate has escalated over the past several weeks due to appearance of a book by Mariska Mourik, Dutch climber who was on the '84 Everest Expedition with Vos.

In 1996, a CET Neva expedition was also working on Dhaulagiri under the leadership of Anatoly Moshnikov, the agency director. Vos met our climbers both in the Base Camp and in higher camps. Then, when caught in a many day snowfall with Russians, they made a long and torturous journey back to the civilization of a small village called Marfa. In his book, among other claims, he recounts these episodes putting his Russian companions in a bad light.

Not once did the journalists attempt to involve Russians into the discussion. Recently they succeeded in their efforts. After 4 years (!) a wave of desultory recollections, chaotic opinions relating to different occasions, fragments of personal e-mails and quotations from Vos' book about Dhaulagiri began on RUNET (RUssian interNET). It did not miss CET Neva and in early March the quantity of e-mails to Anatoly Moshnikov on the subject (as he was the man to reach the summit that year and met Vos on the mountain, he looks like a main witness of prosecution in the case "world climbing community against Bart Vos") exceeded 50kb (20 printed pages)!

Being the site editor, I find the idea of taking part in this disgusting trial offensive. There is no pleasure in reading the fragments of the Vos book where he faked the ascent of one of the world's tallest peaks and reveled in some features of his friends when they were not at their best. Also it is unpleasant to observe the frenzy of the journalists, as well as some climbers - alas - as they automatically tried to claw at one another when they got the claws into Vos. Of course, all of us are not angels, nor mountaineers. Maybe, in the fight against the elements somebody appears to be immodest. Maybe another one, who did not have the inner strength and volition to beat the last few metres of the mountain, was blaming others later, at his moment of physical exhaustion and phsycological depression. Maybe someone, afterwards when all the difficulties were behind, relaxed too much and drank too much alcohol. Are these topics worthy of one's time, labor and writing talent (if it exists)? Do we go to the mountains to show, when we return, our worst sides over the world by means of high electron technologies? These "hot" facts and "spicy" interviews may be the journalists bread and butter, but should we strive to give it to them?

Sadly these days, staying out of the debate becomes harder and harder. The only thing we feel suitable for this site is A. Moshnikov's statement on events surrounding Vos' claims and an article by the Duch journalist, Milja de Zwart from the March issue of Algemeen Dagblad. Additionally, Moshnikov's personal account of the Dhaulagiri Expedition 1996 (it had been published in 1997) is available on our web pages.

Besides, we have inserted on this web-page several pictures of Dhaulagiri - White Mountain - as a reminder... a simbol...

For all the rest the reader is recommended to visit the sites mentioned in the M. de Zwart article.

S. Kalmykov
Special thanks to Nick Stopford who has improved the English in the articles above and below.
If some non-English expressions still persist, the only cause is my obstinacy.

March 7, 2000

"Black Swan" on White Mountain or long ago...

A. Moshnikov

The present statement is about a solo ascent of Dhaulagiri (8167m), Himalaya via a new route in 1996 by B. Vos, Dutch climber.

Providence was merciful, and I had the luck to stand on the summit October 21, 1996. It was a hard expedition - the weather opposed us and winds obstructed many expeditions' paths to the summit. In spite of the weather, we collaborated with a Japanese expedition and a Dutchman, Bart Vos who was on the mountain for his third attempt to reach the summit. Now, several years later the story, suddenly, continues...

During 1997 and 1998, I had received a number of requests from Dutch journalists to confirm, if possible, Vos' solo ascent along the new route. For a long time I tried to avoid any involvement into the investigation because I never wanted to be an accuser or prove someone to be a liar.

There were several reasons for this my attitude:
- we worked hard together to escape from the mountain, spent several days helping each other in our common struggle against the elements, we were both within a hair's breadth of dying...
- members of our team, who had climbed with him, refused at that time to speak to the journalists regarding Vos' ascent, however, during informal talks they confirmed that Bart was climbing with them and hadn't reached the summit;
- I thought: for long months and years Bart was dreaming about Dhaulagiri, in those his dreams he stood atop the White Mountain, and even though the reality turned out to be a little different, is this diference so important now - the difference between a real summiting and the imaginary one?
- besides, Bart Vos has done a lot to popularize my beloved mountaineering (lectures, slide-shows, book...);
- and finally, I had no documents in my hands - those Vos' statements, articles, books and so on, I did have only the words they said about him.

I forwarded the questions to Bart and asked him to comment on them, but received no response.

Why am I returning now to those old events? Because the circumstances have changed. I was visited by two Dutch journalists who showed me Vos' book about his new solo route up Dhaulagiri. It upset me to read the excerpts (which had been translated into Russian) where Bart portrayed the character and behaviour of some of the Russians in a bad light.

Vos's route picture The Bart Vos climb up to the Dhaulagiri top via the new way as displayed on the scheme [see figure on the left, click to zoom - S.K.] was a figment of his sick imagination. It never happened. He moved with the Russian team along the normal route from the North-East, as well used our snowholes. I have diaries, photographs... Sadly, Bart Vos has not been on the top, nor did he put up a new solo route.

Why sadly? Because I wish that he had. If this had been the case then there would not be this bitter dispute about whether he deserves the honourary title of climber. When one betrays what you love... A pure profit and popularity, unmerited and cheap, - this is the only one to remain... It's a pity. Bart Vos has understood nothing about this giant and beautiful world of mountains.

Dhaulagiri, normal route from the North-East.

October 20, 1996, setting camp on 7400m.

Climbers on the N-E ridge at 7550 m.


Deceit of a mountaineer

Milja de Zwart

[The article below had been sent March 3, 2000 via e-mail to several addresses including CET Neva by M. de Zwart. - S.K.]

As I promised most of you, hereby you will find a summary of the publications about Bart Vos, today and tomorrow in my paper. Thank you for helping me to sort truth and untruth.
Hope to hear from you again,
Milja de Zwart

Under the headline 'Deceit of a mountaineer' I published the following story today, March 3 2000:

Mountaineer Bart Vos never made it to the summits of Mount Everest (8848 m) and Dhaulagiri (8167 m) in the Himalaya. Mariska Mourik, who joined Vos on the 1984 expedition to the Everest, says so in a revealing book, 'One Meter Everest', which is published today.

Vos's claim he was the first Dutchman on the Everest, has always been doubted. But it is the first time a member of the expedition fights this statement in public. And nobody ever suspected Vos lying about his so-called 'Olympic' performance on the Dhaulagiri, October 17 in 1996.

However, inquiries in Nepal learned that Vos's succes was doubted immediately on the site. Edi Koblmuller, leader of a small Austrian expedition which reached the summit two weeks later, made objections. The Austrian, who owns a climbing school in Linz, didn't believe Vos. He said 'Netherland-man' Vos wore a nickname among mountaineers climbing the Dhaulagiri: 'Neverland-man'.

Back in Holland, Vos said Russian climbers witnessed his achievements on the Dhaulagiri. But the members of this Russian expedition are flabbergasted, when confronted with Vos's allegations.

Against these allegations, which are backed by Vos's liaisonofficer in Nepal, the Russians insist they even didn't know the Dutchman registered his climb as a succes.

The Russians retain happy memories of the generous mr Vos. Exactly in the days Vos, like he claims, was all alone on a rope in the never before climbed eastern wall of the Dhaulagiri, they met him on the normal route on the northeastern side of the mountain. They even made pictures with the date automatically printed on it.

Vos sticks to his story, however he admits everything could have happened one or two days earlier or later. 'This is my story. I cannot understand why the Russians choose this position. I can only speculate about the reasons, and I don't want to do that.' Vos says he met the Russians on the mountain, but earlier that fall.

By chance, Mourik discovered in 1997 Vos's succes on the Dhaulagiri was founded on fantasy. It spurred her to reveal the truth about the Dutch Mount Everest Expedition 1984 at last. Mourik joined Vos until a 150 meters below the top. She says Vos was too much out of shape for making great performances.

This article is backed up by a big story, in which the Russian mountaineers Anatoly Moshnikov, Nickolay Pimkin, Alexei and Nickolay Shustrov and Michail Gavrilov are interviewed. Moshnikov declares Bart Vos 'persona non grata'.

About the Everest, it adds sherpa Ganesh Gurung later stated in an official declaration that he waved from the South Summit to Bart Vos, who reached the main summit. But the first Dutch woman on the Everest, Katja Staartjes (May 1999) says: 'It's impossible to see the South Summit from the Main top.'

Also, there is a reconstruction of the situation on the Mount Everest in 1984 - 1985.
3-10-1984 Greg Mortimer and Tim Macartney-Snape found the top completely clean. Macartney says Mortimer left some small things on the summit, a small teddybear and a kid's hairlock.
8-10-1984 Bart Vos saw nothing on the top, he said the Chinese tripod was gone, but he could have read that in a book. He said he found ropes on the Hillary Step, and later he told a reporter that Chris Bonington, who climbed the Everest next spring, used it. But when asked, Bonington denies this: 'There were no ropes on the Hillary Step when we got there in 1985 - it was completely clean.'
15-10-1984 Zoltan Demjan found the little teddybear and a blue oxygen cylinder on the top. It could be possible the wind blew away the snow which covered the blue oxygen cylinder in the time between the 3d and the 15th October. Demjan came from the South Pillar route and when he reached the normal route, he found footprints in the snow, which helped him enormously with climbing in the deep snow. But the prints stopped on the south summit and turned back.
20-10-1984 Phil Ershler reached summit and found the blue oxygen bottle. 'It was impossible to miss', he said.

If you want to know more, surf to the following sites:

On Saturday, March 4, we will publish in AD Magazine an interview with Mariska Mourik plus part of a chapter of her book (editor Contact, +31 20 5249800).

Milja de Zwart
Algemeen Dagblad / AD Magazine