The SnowBrains Podcast | Episode #13 | Adrian Ballinger – Climbing Mt. Everest & K2 Without Supplemental Oxygen

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Episode #13 – Adrian Ballinger

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This week, we bring you Adrian Ballinger. In this episode, Adrian & Miles discuss extreme skiing at extreme altitude, the best stories from Adrian’s insane high mountain guiding and climbing career, summiting Everest without oxygen, summiting K2 without oxygen, avalanches, getting the IFMGA full certification in only 3 years, Alpenglow Expeditions, and much more.

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“I was heli-ski guiding in Alaska, and through a series of communications breakdowns between me, my co-guide, and my pilot, we ended up getting out of a helicopter, my 6 clients me and a co-guide, and it turned out we were on top of a cornice. The cornice broke 18 feet back as the helicopter lifted off. Me and 2 clients were on the wrong side of that break and took an 1800-foot fall. The first 200 feet over cliffs, and then through a huge avalanche runout zone, two people buried a bunch of broken bones between all of us, and really bad injuries. Took a long time to get comfortable around cornices again.”

– Adrian Ballinger

Adrian Ballinger’s list of accomplishments is over-the-top. It’s too much. Here are some of his career highlights:

  • The first person to ski Manaslu from the summit (6th tallest peak in the world)
  • Only American with 3 complete 8000m ski descents
  • 4th American to summit Everest and K2 without supplemental oxygen (first in 25 years)
  • 8 summits of Mt Everest, 13 seasons on the mountain, over 100 clients on top
  • 17 total 8000-meter peak summits
  • 6 total 8000-meter peak ski attempts
  • Summited Mt. Everest twice within 3- weeks on 2 separate occasions
  • Guided/led more than 150 international expeditions
  • Founder of Alpenglow Expeditions, in 2004
  • Guided on Kilimanjaro (14 times by 4 different routes), Denali (by the West Rib), Alpamayo (14 times by 3 different routes), Cotopaxi (more than 30 times), and many other expeditions on many other high peaks all over the world.

Ballinger has also led successful expeditions to more than 25 Himalayan summits over 6000 meters, including twelve ascents of Ama Dablam, which is a highly technical 6800m peak next to Everest.

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Episode #13:

Adrian Ballinger – Climbing Mt. Everest & K2 Without Supplemental Oxygen

This episode is brought to you by Alta Ski Area – home of the deepest average annual snowfall in the Rocky Mountains.

“Made it really close. I was probably 400-vertical-feet from the summit, at well over 28,500 feet. I got to the point where I couldn’t feel from my hands to behind my wrists, so I could no longer clip devices onto the fixed rope. So then I had to solo because I couldn’t use the rope. I was still going up, and I’m soloing, and I can’t feel my hands, started to think about the consequences of frostbite when I have a girlfriend who is a professional rock climber. It still took a long time, but I did ultimately decide to turn around… I’m sure that’s what saved my toes and fingers.”

– Adrian Ballinger

In this episode, Adrian & Miles discuss extreme skiing at extreme altitude, the best stories from Adrian’s insane high mountain guiding and climbing career, summiting Everest without oxygen, summiting K2 without oxygen, avalanches, getting the IFMGA full certification in only 3 years, Alpenglow Expeditions, and much more.

Adrian Ballinger answers these mountain-y questions:

  • You were the very first person to ski 26,781′ Manaslu from the summit – this is the 6th tallest peak in the world. What was that experience like and why had no one ever skied before you?
  • In 2016 you decided it was time to try Everest without supplemental oxygen. You failed and you said you almost got yourself killed only hours from the summit. What happened there?
  • How are you able to climb above 26K feet without supplemental oxygen? Is there something genetic or biological about you that helps at altitude?
  • You’ve spent so much time on Everest – I’d love to hear your perspective on the overcrowding of Everest and the effects that it’s having.
  • Please tell us a bit about the Sherpa people. What are they like and please explain exactly what they do. It sounds like without the Sherpa, climbing Everest would nearly be impossible.
  • Why did you decide to climb K2 without supplemental oxygen?
  • What are the Pakistani people like?
  • What’s the craziest or funniest thing you’ve seen on Everest?
  • What’s the scariest accident you’ve had in the mountains?
  • Where’s your favorite place to ski? Favorite place to climb? Favorite mountain ranges?
  • What evidence of climate change have you seen in your lifetime?
  • What challenges you most intellectually on a daily basis?
  • What’s your favorite book?
  • More

Please enjoy!

***

This episode is brought to you by Alta Ski Area – home of the deepest average annual snowfall in the Rocky Mountains.

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The SnowBrains Podcast | Episode #13 | Adrian Ballinger – Climbing Mt. Everest & K2 Without Supplemental Oxygen

Recorded on December 03, 2020, in Jackson Hole, WY (Miles Clark) and Moab, UT (Adrian Ballinger).

This episode was edited by Robert Wilkinson.

Music by Chad Crouch.

Host, producer, and creator = Miles Clark.

The SnowBrains Podcast. Skier: Miles Clark. Location: Jackson Hole, WY. Photo: Sasha Motivala.  Date:  March 2020

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