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ExWeb interview with Everest speed climber Christian Stangl: I passed a climber having problems with his O2 system

Posted: Jun 05, 2006 03:43 pm EDT

(MountEverest.net) Last week it was reported that Christian Stangl achieved a no O2 speed ascent on Everest north side. Christian took 16 hours, 42 mins to reach the summit, plus 6 hours more to return to the starting point. The reports had it that Christian started the climb from BC - a considerable distance.

ExWeb contacted Stangl for specs on the May 25th climb. In the interview, Christian also provided some details on the climbers he passed en route. While Christian ran up and down the mountain, German Richard Weber perished on the higher sections of Everest, and Australian Lincoln Hall was left for dead.

ExWeb: Where did you start from on May 24 at 5:00 pm? BC or ABC? Exactly at what altitude were you when you started?

Christian: With BC I mean Camp at approximately 6.400m - actually ABC. I started the "time recording" at the beginning of the fixed ropes. The idea came from American speed-climber Joby Ogwyn, in order to settle a fixed starting point. (Ed. note: Joby Ogwyn also made a speed ascent attempt on Everest's North side this season but turned back at 8500m.)

In fact, starting at ABC wouldnt be accurate enough, since ABC on the North side of Everest spreads across a large extension. Depending whether you start at the bottom end or the top end of ABC, you could easily "win" or "lose" about 15 minutes.

ExWeb: Could you confirm the exact time? In a previous report, you also mentioned meeting another climber going on O2 on the top. Was it him who took the summit picture of you?

Christian: I started on May 24 at 5:00 pm, and reached the summit on May 25, at 9:42 am. I returned to ABC at 4:30 pm that same day.

The summit picture was shot by Ecuadorian climber, Patricio Crausaz. It is his camera which I am holding in my right hand in the summit image. Patricio reached the summit approx. one minute before me. There were two more guys on the summit, probably Sherpas, but I didnt speak to them. They were busy taking tons of pictures and I only stayed on the summit for max 3 minutes.

ExWeb: Did you meet climbers in trouble on your way up to or down from the summit? Lincoln Hall reached the summit within an hour of you; Thomas Weber was on the higher slopes of Everest when you passed by. None of them returned to C3 that night.

Christian: I probably passed Lincoln Hall, but didnt know it was him at the time. I just remember that I passed three descending climbers above the 2nd Step. One had obvious problems with his O2 system; the others were trying to help him. Few minutes later, beneath the 2nd Step, two Sherpas were heading up very fast, saying they were going to rescue one client.

I dont know about Harry Kikstra and Thomas Weber. Maybe I passed them too, but that day I passed at least 15 people that I didn't know. I was the last member out of the Asian Trekking team to attempt the summit this season.

ExWeb: Who was the official expedition leader in the Asian Trekking Expedition?

Christian: The "International Asian Trekking" Group consisted of independent climbers. No "leader" was nominated.

ExplorersWeb: Did you come to Everest this season to attempt a speed record?

Christian: The idea to speed-climb Mt. Everest in a single day came up in a conversation with Hans Kammerlander in Kathmandu in spring 2005. I always admired his performance back in 1996. But the "disturbing" thing to me was that he had used "resupplies" (Sherpas in camp 1 and 2 who were waiting for him with hot drinks etc.). My idea was to climb completely independent, without resupplies and in "pure" Alpine Style.

On May 25, 2006 Austrian Christian Stangl reached the summit of Everest without using supplementary O2, 16 hours and 42 minutes after leaving ABC. He returned to ABC in six hours. Christian climbed in a light down suit and carried ½ liter of liquid, carbohydrate-gel packs and salted cookies. He used a ski-pole, but no ice-axe or jumar. He had no radio or sat-phone with him.

The earlier fastest no O2 ascent on Mount Everest's north side was made in 1996 by Italian Hans Kammerlander, who reached the summit from ABC in 17 hours and skied down from 7800m.

April this year, Christian Stangl also speed climbed Mount Elbrus in 5 hours 18 min from AZAU to the top. Christian has also climbed Kilimanjaro in 5 hours 36 min via the UMBWE Route, and Aconcagua in 4 hours 25 min from Plaza de Mulas to the summit.

Christian summited Everest May 25: Also summiting that day was Scott Woolums' group, and the 7Summit-club team. According to Alex Abramovs official report, Lincoln Hall and three Sherpas reached the summit at 9:00 am.

Thomas Weber, a climber with weakened sight, went completely blind at 9:15am only 50 meters from the summit. For this reason, Thomas, Harry and two Sherpas began their descent at 9:30am.

At 10:00am the descending Lincoln Hall reached a snow triangle, at 8800 meters. At this point, Sherpas transmitted, Lincoln started to move slowly, and lost his coordination. At 10:30am Lincoln lay down in the snow, and could not move independently any more.

According to Harry, Scott Woolums helped to retrieve Thomas, stranded in a bad position on the ridge by the second step, but it was too late. The climber is suspected to have died of a stroke. Two Sherpas tried to lower Lincoln Hall for 6 hours, but the climber was also left by the second step after reportedly showing no signs of life for several hours. The next morning, Lincoln was found by a team of climbers on their summit push. They cared for him until expedition Sherpas reached them and brought Lincoln down.


"I started on May 24 at 5:00 pm, and reached the summit on May 25, at 9:42 am," said Christian. "The summit picture was shot by an Ecuadorian climber, Patricio Crausaz. I'm holding his camera in my right hand in the summit pic." (Click to enlarge)
View from the summit towards Nepal and Nuptse's jagged summit ridge (click to enlarge).
Austrian Christian Stangl gives the camera a thumbs up after his successful climb. He is particularly proud of having summited without any external help or resupplies. All images courtesy of Christian Stangl / Skyrunning.at (click to enlarge).