I have met some amazing people in the Himalayas, people truly worthy of admiration, and Gerlinde is one of these people. I think that she is one of the most intelligent, toughest and technically gifted female mountaineers that I have ever come across, in addition to being a really nice person.

A few days ago we exchanged several emails. She had yet to begin her ascent to the summit of K2, and she told me in her mails that the route that she had taken was as tough as it was beautiful. Consequently I have been concerned about her over these last few days. Here was a friend of mine climbing one of the toughest mountains on earth, without oxygen and via a complicated route. My concern was a result of what she had told me, and I just hoped that everything was going to turn out OK.

I was delighted when I learned that she had reached the summit. I tried to imagine how she felt, up there at the top. She will undoubtedly tell us all about it, but I am sure that she felt very, very happy considering all the hard work that she has put in over the last few years in order to complete this project.

I was also somewhat nervous thinking about her descent. The only thing that I would ask is that she comes back down and heads back home soon, so that she can enjoy the whole experience with Raff and all her loved ones – there are a lot of us.

This is how I feel. Gerlinde is one of the people who I admire the most in the Himalayas. She is someone who has maintained her own particular style right until the end, and who has been clear about her objectives from the very beginning. She is an incredible woman who can be defined by two concepts: A GREAT mountaineer (the best) and a BETTER person.

Congratulations Gerlinde!