Kristin Harila Summits Makalu, Breaks Record

It was not impossible. At 10:40 am today, Norwegian athlete Kristin Harila summited Makalu. It was her sixth 8,000’er in just 29 days, beating out Nirmal Purja’s 31 days in 2019 for the fastest time to summit that many 8,000’ers.

 

 

Harila climbed with Dawa Wongchu Sherpa and Pasdawa Sherpa. Shortly after, Nepali climber Purnima Shrestha summited as well, alongside Nurbu Sherpa. Earlier this spring, Shrestha also summited Kangchenjunga and Lhotse. She has now bagged all of her country’s 8,000’ers except for Cho Oyu, which is usually climbed from Tibet.

All climbers are on their way down the mountain. Celebrations will have to wait until they are safely down. The weather is bad, and according to Harila’s tracker, they are descending slowly.

Tough conditions

The climb today has been really tough because of relentless, heavy snow, 8K’s Lakpa Sherpa told ExplorersWeb.

“This is why the other climbers on the mountain are a day or two behind. However, they [Harila, Dawa Wongchu Sherpa, and Pasdawa Sherpa] wanted to break the record and they knew they had to go in front of the rest.

“Our four strongest Sherpas were there breaking the trail, which was especially hard up the French Couloir, and both Harila and Shrestha are also extremely strong,” Lakpa Sherpa continued.

In addition to the summiters, Halung Dorchi also climbed during the summit push with Harila.

Purnima Shrestha some days ago on Lhotse. Photo: Purnima Shrestha

Less than a month

Harila summited Annapurna on April 28, Dhaulagiri’s main summit (the team specifically noted that it was the main summit because Dhaulagiri’s summit area is confusing) on May 8, Kangchenjunga on May 14, and then Everest and Lhotse on May 22. Then, after a short delay because bad weather grounded her helicopter for 24 hours, Harila summited Makalu on May 27.

This makes for a total of 29 days. As with Purja, this required a huge physical effort, mental strength, meticulous planning, and reliable logistical support, provided for Harila by 8K Expeditions. Good weather also helped, at least until Makalu.

The challenge ahead

Harila has now completed the first phase of her 14×8,000’er project. She hopes to complete it in record time.

 

The second and third phases will be even more difficult, at least logistically. In Pakistan, helicopters are not as easily available and are more expensive. She will also face the Karakoram giants, with less stable weather patterns and technical difficulties.

Then in the fall, Harila will need to climb Manaslu (where she should aim for the true summit to set herself apart from the previous record-holder), Cho Oyu, and Shishapangma. For Shishapangma, located completely in Tibet, Harila will have to ask the Chinese government for a special climbing permit, since the mountain remains closed to foreigners.

On Cho Oyu, she may try to obtain a Chinese permit as well, or she could join the Nepali teams planning to open a new route from Nepal.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides is a college-graduated journalist specializing in high-altitude mountaineer 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.