Updated: Harila Summits Kangchenjunga

Kristin Harila of Norway summited Kangchenjunga this morning, her home team announced. A small group of climbers had launched a summit push after the rope-fixing team last night.

There was initially some confusion. French climber Vadim Druelle, who was part of that group, believed that everybody had turned around at 8,100m. “Cold, wind and the absence of tracks forced everyone down,” Druelle’s team posted on Instagram. “No one has reached the summit.”

However, he was mistaken. Gonzalo Fernandez of Andorra, another of the climbers to retreat, explained what had happened after he reached Base Camp.

“The rope-fixing team chose the wrong couloir, forcing everybody back without summiting, except for Kristin Harila and her team,” said Fernandez. “They did chose the right couloir to the top.”

Kangchenjunga in a sunny day, with some clouds stuck to its ridge.

Kangchenjunga some days ago. Photo: Vadim Druelle/Facebook


Druelle had made a remarkable effort to join the summit group at Camp 4 early today, after climbing all the way from Base Camp in 17 hours non-stop. He made it, but then, as he reported, his group turned around at 5:30 am local time.

Druelle's close shot, under a snowfall.

Vadim Druelle. Photo: Facebook


Indeed, by the time Druelle was on his way down, Kristin Harila’s tracker located her at summit altitude (actually, slightly above).

Harila’s tracker at 1 pm Nepal time, on May 18, close to Kangchenjunga’s summit.


That is exactly the summit time given by Harila’s team. They also mention she climbed assisted by Tenjen (Lama) Sherpa and Gelu Sherpa.

In addition, this year Harila is outfitted by Seven Summit Treks, which is in charge of fixing the ropes on a number of 8,000’ers. That way, on Makalu last weekend, she was able to reach the summit soon after the powerful Sherpa rope fixers opened the route. However, because of the couloir mistake, on Kangchenjunga she and her team had to forge their own route.

Some hours after the summit announcement, Harila was descending at a good pace (check her tracker). The Norwegian climber is after a 14×8,000m speed record. She hopes to summit them all in six months. She has now climbed four of them since April 26, when she summited Shishapangma. Then she went for Cho Oyu and Makalu.

Harila's tracker

Kristin Harila’s tracker at around 5:00 pm local time today. The detour, circled in red, might be the wrong couloir they started up, following the fixed ropes, before her team self-corrected and took the right way to the summit.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.