Kristin Harila Named European Adventurer of the Year

Norway’s Kristin Harila barely missed her chance to set a new record this year, but at least she’s getting a consolation prize.

Harila was named European Adventurer of the Year this week during ISPO, the world’s largest sports fair in Munich, Germany. The organization behind the award spoke highly of Harila’s achievements in the Greater Ranges.

“She is 36 years old and on her way to becoming a mountain legend,” the group said in a news release. “During 2022, she has reached 12 of the world’s 14 highest peaks over 8,000 metres. With her strong spirit, speed, and spirit of adventure, Kristin Harila has shown the world that women can play in the same league as men.”

This year, Harila tried to break the record of Nirmal Purja of Nepal. In 2019, he summited all 14 of the 8,000m peaks in 189 days. It later turned out that Purja had settled for sub-summits on two of the peaks. He returned in subsequent seasons and summited Dhaulagiri and Manaslu properly, making his actual record more like two years.

But Harila almost certainly would have bested Purja’s original six-month time had she received a permit from China to climb Cho Oyu and Shishapangma. China has been closed to foreign mountaineers since COVID in 2020. She attempted Cho Oyu from Nepal in the fall, but heavy snow from an endless monsoon aborted that attempt.

Yet Harila still managed to set several other records during the attempt. She’s now the fastest climber to summit the five highest mountains in the world (68 days). Also, Harila is the fastest person to summit six 8,000m mountains in spring in Nepal (25 days) and the fastest woman from peak to peak between Everest and Lhotse (8.5 hours).

“It is a great honor to win the award as European Adventurer of the Year, as the first from Norway,” Harila said this week. “My goal was to draw attention to women who engage in mountain climbing and other expedition sports.”

Despite the disappointment, Harila shows no signs of slowing down. She heads back to Nepal on Thursday to have another go at Cho Oyu, this time in winter.

She also plans to redo her 14 peaks project in 2023.

Andrew McLemore

An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is also a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Medellin, Colombia. When he’s not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he’s hanging out with his dog Campana.