Weekend Warm-Up: Andrzej Bargiel’s Doo Sar Karakorum Adventure

Karakorum Skiing

This is a story meant for a new generation of climbers. As we get deeper into the 21st century, after all the 8,000’ers have been climbed, and then tamed in both summer and winter, a new concept of exploration arises. Seek out virgin peaks in hidden valleys, go lightweight, and find different ways to climb and descend.

Andrzej Bargiel and Jedrek Baranowski of Poland starred in one of the most exciting expeditions in Pakistani last summer. They climbed and skied down the remote Yawar Shar II (6,178m) and then the commonly photographed but rarely summited dagger known as Laila Peak (6,096m).

Afterward, they shared a few details and short clips, but we never saw the true extent of their adventure. We never thought about, for example, how they managed to access isolated Yawar Shar II and how they skied the distinctive ramp of Laila Peak, which ends in a massive cliff.

Andrzej Bargiel at Laila Peak’s Base Camp.

Red Bull has just released a 45-minute video documenting Bargiel and Baranowski’s Pakistan adventure. Videographer and drone operator Jakub Gzela directed the film, with the help of veteran climber and coach Darek Zaluski and photographer Bartlomiej Pawlikowski.

Gzela’s exquisite work (at only 23!) has almost made us forget Bargiel’s brother Bartek, who notably filmed his brother’s 2019 K2 ski descent. Bartek was not there to fly his drone this time. The footage in this film shows 360º perspectives of sharp summits and the nearly vertical slopes of their chosen descents. Meanwhile, the climbers’ helmet cams document the vertigo accompanying every turn.

Beauty, but also a serious risk

Andrzej Bargiel has become one of the best-known high-altitude skiers since his landmark run down of K2. Baranowski, on the other hand, had no high-altitude experience, so this was quite an extreme introduction. Especially since it took place in the wildest corner of the Karakorum.

This background, plus Bargiel’s reflections, fill the first part of the video. We get progressively more eager to see the skiers tackle nearly impossible turns. And in time, we indeed get plenty of amazing footage. The film shows the beauty of the place but also the serious risks that the skiers took.

In addition to the steep slopes, Bargiel and Garanowski had to deal with extremely tricky conditions. On the upper sections of Yawash Sar II, a thin layer of soft snow concealed hard blue ice below, which no ski edge could hold. Only Bargiel reached the highest point and so achieved the first ascent of the peak.

On Laila, the main challenge was the changing, icy conditions on the section right above the cliff, and a serac area through which they hurried. The weather was good, but their window was short on both peaks, and they had to hurry.

Most of all, the skiers couldn’t wait for the right moment or ideal conditions. When they stepped into their skis, their next stop was base camp.

We can’t embed the video, but you can watch it by following the link below.

https://www.redbull.com/ca-en/films/doo-sar-a-karakoram-ski-expedition

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About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!

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1 month ago

Beautiful! What a beast the way he climbs those peaks.

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