On Wednesday October 2nd, Polish Red Bull athlete Andrzej Bargiel made a solo summit and ski descent of 8,013m Shishapangma in epic conditions.
“I'm very happy to have realised my dream,” the 25-year-old Polish mountaineer wrote on his blog.
Conditions were far from perfect, with poor visibility, heavy snowfall and strong winds, and at one point he was advised to turn back. For some time Bargiel wrestled with the dilemma but decided to push on.
“It was very hard — with waist deep snow,” he said. The last section was the most challenging.
“It gave me the most adrenaline. It started to get steep — the snow was really too much, I even had to get on all fours in order to stay on the surface. Right next to me avalanche went off, which was alarming.”
In the end Bargiel summited around 13:00, 28 hours after settting off from base camp. After a short break he put on his skis and went for the descent. He was so tired he was forced to stop every few minutes but he made it to camp 2 without incident where his team was there to congratulate him and offer tea.
They consisted of his brother Grzegorz, who volunteers on a mountain search and rescue teams and is an experienced mountain guide, and by filmmaker Darek Załuski, who is said to be “the best mountaineer among filmmakers, and the best filmmaker among mountaineers”.
At 8,013m, Shishapangma is the world's 14th highest mountain and a highly coveted prize for mountaineers seeking to climb all 14 mountains over 8,000m.
It was Bargiel's first successful 8,000er. He has previously made attemps on Manaslu (8,156m) and Lhotse (8,516m) but had to turn back due to difficult conditions.
Bargiel is an accomplished mountaineer. In 2010, he set the current speed record to the summit of Mt. Elbrus, (5,642) in the Caucasus with a time of 3:23.27.
And he isn't done yet. The Shishapagma Ski Challenge is part of a larger goal: to ski off all the highest mountains on earth as part of the 'Hic sung leones' project. The Latin maxim means 'unknown territories'. Will he pull it off? We'll be watching closely.