Polish mountaineer and mountain runner Andrzej Bargiel, 30 has become the first person to ski down K2 (28,251-feet), the second tallest mountain in the world. He summited K2 on Sunday morning at 11:30 am and returned to Base Camp at around 7:30 pm local time.
He is reported to have connected four routes on the descent: Abruzzi Rib, the Česen the Messner variant and the Kukuczka-Piotrowski routes. He skied from the summit to the High Camp at 25,080-feet before being forced to wait out low visibility for about an hour. Once the route cleared, he continued down the traditional Abruzzi to Camp 3 at 23,760-feet where the route merges with the Česen. He took that lower and then a short traverse Messner used aptly called the Messner variant before connecting to the Kukuczka-Piotrowski, reports Alan Arnette.
Bargiel abandoned an initial attempt to ski the mountain last year as conditions were too treacherous, and there have been previous attempts by other climbers:
- Italian mountaineer, Hans Kammerlander skied the top 1,312-feet of K2 in 2001
- Internationally known climber and skier, Dave Watson skied the upper slopes of K2 on 4th August 2009. Watson skied from an altitude of 27,400-feet down the bottleneck of K2.
- German extreme mountaineer, Luis Stitzinger skied down Kukuczka Route to BC (16,732-feet) in 2011. Stitzinger skied from an altitude of 25,755-feet
- Experienced Swedish ski-mountaineer Fredrik Ericsson fell about 3,280-feet to his death when he had been close to the summit.
In 2015 Bargiel became the first person to ski down Broad Peak, which is 26,296-feet tall and close to K2.
While Mount Everest has been skied down multiple times now over the past two decades, a ski descent of K2 has proved still more challenging, largely because of a combination of treacherous terrain and often terrible weather.