In the coming days, Polish ski mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel will attempt something never before accomplished in mountaineering history: The 29-year-old will not only try to summit K2, the world’s second-largest mountain, but he will then seek to become the first person to ever ski K2 from top to bottom, as reported by the Daily Mail.
There are a couple of reasons why nobody has ever successfully skied down the 28,251-foot mountain on the Chinese/Pakistani border.
K2 is incredibly difficult to summit in the first place — last year, mountaineer Alan Arnette reported less than 400 people have ever reached K2’s peak, versus more the more than 5,000 people who have reached the top of Everest.
Arnette and the New York Times also report that roughly one out of every four mountaineers who attempt the K2 summit have died.
In fact, per The Australian, the feat is so dangerous only one other person — Italian mountaineer Hans Kammerlander in 2001 — has ever tried to ski off K2’s peak. But he clipped out of his skis and climbed down to the bottom of the mountain after losing his nerve when he witnessed a fellow climber fall off K2 and die.
Still, Bargiel remains undeterred.
“Previous attempts prove that the descent is possible, provided you had carried out excellent preparation, were at the peak of sporting fitness and had experience of skiing at such high altitudes,” Bargiel told The Times about his quest. “A quick descent on skis could be seen as an even more difficult step on my Himalayan and skiing career. But it would also be a feat recorded in the history of Himalayan mountaineering and skiing.”
And the Polish mountaineer does have experience with skiing at extremely high altitudes: In 2015, The Australian reports that Bargiel successfully skied the 26,414-foot Broad Peak — the world’s 12th tallest mountain — from top to bottom.
Still, Bargiel knows that he will need some help if he is to complete his goal.
“Of course you had to have a bit of luck with the weather and snow quality,” the Polish mountaineer told The Times.
In a translation of an interview Tuesday with the Polish publication RMF provided by Google, Bargiel — who had already reached K2’s Camp II — said he planned to climb to around 23,000 feet Wednesday and reach K2’s summit some time between July 20-30.
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