A hanging chunk of ice the size of an apartment block has forced Polish daredevil Andrzej Bargiel to abandon his bid to ski down Mount Everest, he announced on his Facebook on Monday.
The 31-year-old, who last year skied down K2, was making a rare attempt to summit the world’s tallest mountain and then ski down without supplemental oxygen. But a serac (a block of glacial ice) is hanging dangerously above the already treacherous Khumbu icefall that climbers have to cross to reach Camp 1.
Bargiel and other teams were waiting at the base camp hoping the serac, which he said is around 50 meters (165 feet) by 30 meters (98 feet), would break off so they could pass.
We’ve been on the base at Everest for the third week. The conditions of this year are very difficult. The rain is extending, often it’s snowing and rain. During the summer, the level of freezing was very high and the glacier is in a tragic state, there are plenty of cracks in it The biggest problem is the šerák hanging 800 meters above the glacier, it is 50 m high, 30 m long and is more than the right glacier. Moving under it is very difficult. I don’t accept this risk, šerák can fall at any time and it stops us from action. We tried to wait this period, then we could start activities unfortunately we have been here for a long time, there is no progress in mountain action and in acclimatization. We finish because this is the most reasonable. Unfortunately, sometimes it is the case that you have to take risks and if it is too big to say “stop”.
Thank you to the members of my team, to all who believe and support this project, especially sponsors and partners.
Autumn expeditions on Everest are rare because of snowier terrain, shorter and colder days and a narrow summit window compared to the busy spring. Nepal has issued only 10 permits for the mountain this season.
Bargiel was eyeing the 8,848-metre-tall Everest (29,028 feet) only a year after he became the first person to ski down Pakistan’s K2, the second-highest mountain in the world. He has previously also skied off Nepal’s Manaslu, Broad Peak in Pakistan and Shishapangma in Tibet.
The world’s highest peak has seen a handful of ski descents, but never a continuous downhill without additional oxygen, as Bargiel had planned.
This year’s traffic-clogged spring climbing season saw a record 885 people summit on Everest, 644 of them from the south and 241 from the northern flank in Tibet. The season ended with 11 deaths — at least four blamed on overcrowding.