Bargiel Skis K2!

Polish ski mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel has become the first person in history to ski down from the summit of the second highest mountain in the world. This follows a busy few days on K2, as 31 climbers summited on July 21. No word on whether Bargiel had to dodge any of them as he hurtled downhill.

Within each generation of high-altitude alpinism, there are exceptional moments: Reinhold Messner’s solo climb of Everest in 1980, or House and Anderson’s alpine-style ascent of Nanga Parbat’s Rupal Face in the noughties, for example. Given the notoriously harsh weather on K2, its extreme altitude, the exposure and the technical difficulty, Bargiel’s descent must rank as one of those moments. That some of the world’s best extreme skiers have tried and failed only strengthens his achievement.


Tha angle ramping up on the Abruzzi spur at 7,800m. Photo: Andrzej Bargiel


On July 19 Bargiel left Base Camp for Camp 2, where his climbing partner, Janusz Golab, was waiting. After a night at Camp 3, Bargiel hurried on to Camp 4 alone as Golab was feeling unwell. Here, Bargiel spent the night before pushing on alone to the summit. He reached it early on Sunday morning (July 22).



Bargiel left the summit by the Abruzzi route, the voie normale, then traversed right to follow a series of lines that culminated in the Polish route down the steep and imposing south face.


Bargiel began his descent via the Abruzzi route (purple line) and then followed the Cesen/Basque route (green line) to Camp 3. From there he traversed to the left via Messner’s variant (pink line) and finished down the Polish route (light blue line) Photo: Marcin Kin


Speaking at Base Camp, Bargiel said: “I’m very happy that I’ve managed to ski down the summit of K2 and get back to the base safely! I started to climb K2 at 4 in the morning on Sunday. The weather was good. Some problems appeared when I reached the peak and started to ski down. It was very cloudy and I had to wait for it to clear up at Base IV because the next phase of my downhill was going to be very difficult and technical on an extremely steep wall. I feel huge happiness and, to be honest, it was my second attempt, so I’m glad that I won’t be coming here again”.