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with Stefan Nestler

First complete ski run from K2

Andrzej Bargiel after his return to base camp

The Pole Andrzej Bargiel has written K2 history. According to his own words, the 30-year-old succeeded yesterday the first complete ski descent from the second highest mountain in the world. In doing so, he snapped up the “Holy Grail”, which had previously caused the failure of some of the best ski mountaineers in the world – such as Hans Kammerlander from South Tyrol in 2001. After reaching the summit at 8,611 metres on Sunday, Andrzej skied down in one go to the base camp on a combination of several routes, his sponsor from Austria informed: “From the summit, he descended along the shoulder towards the Cesen route (also known as the Basque route), passing below huge seracs, then via the extremely difficult Messner traverse, and via the arête on the Kukuczka-Piotrowski route (which was opened by the two Poles in 1986). Next, he had to face some snow fields full of crevasses. He managed to overcome all the difficulties and achieved his dream, achieving the impossible in the process.”

“Just glad”

On the run

“I’m just glad I don’t have to come back,” said Andrzej in the base camp, visibly marked by the exertions, but with a big grin on his face. During the ascent he had been supported by his compatriot Janusz Golab and a team of Sherpas. “K2 is certainly the most demanding and also most dangerous eight-thousander that you can ski down,” Luis Stitzinger told me a year ago, when Slovenian Davo Karnicar and later Bargiel had given up their attempts of a complete ski descent. In 2011, the 49-year-old German mountaineer – who a few days ago scaled Gasherbrum I, his eighth eight-thousander – had skied down from 8,050 meters to the base camp.

Not any flat meter

Andrzej’s ski route

“On K2, you have to be a very good extreme skier, and you always have to give it your all because there is not any flat meter.” Another danger is caused by the increasing temperatures in the Karakoram as a result of climate change. “There you set off high up on the mountain on rock-hard snow and reach the lower parts on snow as soft as butter. Particularly in the lower area there is also a threat of wet avalanches thundering down through the couloirs.”


Record season and one death

Muhammad Ali “Sadpara” on the summit of K 2

On Saturday and Sunday, a total of 63 climbers reached the summit of the K2, more than ever before in one season. Among them was Pakistani Muhammad Ali “Sadpara”, who had been one of the first winter ascenders of Nanga Parbat in February 2016. Having climbed K2, the 42-year-old completed his collection of the five eight-thousanders in his home country Pakistan. Also sad news was reported from K2: The 41-year-old Japanese Kojiro Watanabe fell to his death on his descent from the summit at about 8,300 meters. R.I.P.


23. July 2018 | 17:18