Vedrines’ K2 Plan: A No-O2, One-Day Speed Ascent, Then Paraglide Down

Fresh from climbing three alpine North Faces in three days, French ace Benjamin Vedrines is turning to ski-mountaineering for the rest of the winter and spring. He wants to get as fit as possible to prepare for a major high-altitude challenge in July. Vedrines plans to climb K2 without oxygen, in a one-day speed ascent. He will then paraglide from near the summit.

“It’s not the number of mountains I climb, it’s more about the journey on each of them,” Vedrines wrote some weeks ago. “With K2, I have a special relationship.”

Vedrines takes a selfie while on a snow summit.

Benjamin Vedrines during his ski traverse of Queiras, in the French Alps, last year. Photo: Benjamin Vedrines


Lessons learned

“I want to climb K2 again because the mountain forced me to turn around in 2022 at 8,400m,” Vedrines told ExplorersWeb. “I had just climbed Broad Peak twice, once in a whopping 7 hours, 19 minutes from Base Camp to summit. When I went up K2 immediately afterward, I suffered severe hypoxia because of fatigue.”

Indeed, other climbers on the spot found him nearly unconscious and gave him oxygen. Vedrines recovered almost immediately thanks to the bottled gas and started descending on his own. At a certain point, he just paraglided back to Base Camp.

“This time, I will learn from this previous expedition, and try to do things well while limiting risk as much as possible,” said Vedrines. “The goal is to climb the mountain in a day. If conditions are good enough [they must be excellent, he noted], I will take off near the summit with my paraglider.”

Growing experience

Vedrines told ExplorersWeb that he is looking forward to reaching above 8,600m for the first time. “It would be a big step for me to reach that symbolic altitude, and it will also be a big evolution in the way I train. This will be a good test for future high-altitude projects.

“I’ll have to train a lot, It’s going to be demanding but spreading my paraglider up there and taking off, my feet above all these 8,000m giants…would be amazing,” he posted recently on social media.

The climber paraglides above the peaks suppounding Nanga Parbat right after jumping off from a snowy shoulder.

Vedrines flies from the upper sections of Nanga Parbat. Frame from a drone video shot by Vedrines and David Goettler


As with the recent alpine trilogy, Vedrines understands his climbs as stages in an endless process of acquiring ever more experience.

“There’s always more to explore beyond the act of climbing,” Vedrines wrote. “Physical preparation is crucial, but so is mental preparation. Records are excuses to grow as a human. It’s not just the summit that matters, but also the long-term quest. A quest is necessary to trigger motivation because it takes a lot to get up there.”

Broad Peak

Vedrines’ Fastest Known Time on Broad Peak in 2022 was his first experience on an 8,000’er. His record overshadowed other speed ascents that season, including one by Denis Urubko. However, it was far from his first high-class Himalayan expedition. Vedrines had previously bagged the first ascent of the Northeast Face of Chamlang Middle (7,240m) with Nicolas Jean in 2019, and a new route on the North Face of Chamlang Main (7,319m) with Charles Dubouloz in 2021.

In 2023, Vedrines and partner David Goettler launched a remarkable alpine-style attempt on Nanga Parbat‘s Schell route from the Rupal side. Although he felt strong and was just 600m from the summit, Vedrines turned around when Goettler decided to retreat.

Vedrines considered a solo attempt the following day but ultimately refused to leave his companion. “I can neither hide my pain nor blame David,” he admitted.

He prepared for Nanga Parbat by completing some mind-blowingly fast ascents and ski traverses in the Alps, such as the famous Chamonix-Zermatt route in 15 hours, a 138km-long, 12,000 vertical-meter ski tour in two days, and the Gousseault-Desmaison route up the north face of the Grandes Jorasses in nine hours.

An ambitious 2024

This year couldn’t have started better for Vedrines. Paired with Leo Billon, he onsighted the three North Faces of the Dru, the Droites, and the Grandes Jorasses in winter in just three days, all free climbing in one push without bivouacs on the wall.

On K2, Vedrines may well target another record. Fellow French climber Benoit Chamoux completed the fastest ascent of K2 (without supplementary oxygen) in 23 hours in 1986, via the Abruzzi Spur (normal) route. Chamoux had also acclimatized by climbing Broad Peak two weeks earlier.

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.