K2 isn’t the world’s largest mountain; it’s only the second-highest. But in terms of technical difficulty, it’s often considered the toughest to climb. So it was an accomplishment when Polish daredevil Andrzej Bargiel made it all the way to the top Saturday — and complete lunacy when he became the first man in history to ever ski his way back down.
Bargiel sent an update to his Facebook page early Sunday morning confirming he’d skied from the peak of the 28,151-foot mountain all the way back to base camp at an altitude of approximately 23,000 feet. Red Bull, one of his main sponsors on the trek, confirmed the story hours later. Weather and treacherous conditions prevented him from making a straight shot from the top of the mountain back to his tent, but all in all, things well pretty well, according to the young Pole:
I’m very happy that I’ve managed to ski down the summit of K2 and get back to the base safely! I started to climb K2 at 4 in the morning on Sunday. The weather was good. Some problems appeared when I reached the peak and started to ski down. It was very cloudy and I had to wait for it to clear up at Base IV because the next phase of my downhill was going to be very difficult and technical on an extremely steep wall. I feel huge happiness and, to be honest, it was my second attempt, so I’m glad that I won’t be coming here again.
Bargiel posted a brief clip of his descent to his Facebook page after returning to cell phone range. It is...nerve-racking.
K2 Ski Challenge ep.2
K2 Ski Challenge epizod drugi i kilka strzałów z drona z naszych ostatnich akcji górskich. Słońce, śnieg i szybkie skręty na stromych ścianach K2. K2 Ski Challenge episode two and a couple of drone shots from our latest ski hike. Sun, snow and quick turns on steep K2 slopes. #k2skichallenge #suntleones #timetoplay #piatkadlatomka #higoodfood Sobiesław Zasada Automotive Salomon Enel-Sport IMM PAJAK Pomoca SILVA Global Ujęcia/Footage: Bartek BargielPosted by Andrzej Bargiel on Monday, July 10, 2017
The daredevil is now one of fewer than 350 people to ever summit the deadly mountain and only the 13th Polish citizen to do so. This year’s trip marked his second attempt at climbing the world’s second-tallest mountain; his 2017 effort was curtailed after weather made it too dangerous to continue, deferring his dream of mankind’s nuttiest ski trip for a full year.
Amazingly, it’s not the first time he’s skied down an 8,000-meter monster; in 2015, he made it from the top of 8,015-meter Broad Peak back to base camp on a pair of downhill skis. After Sunday’s announcement, he’s now skied from the summits of five of the world’s 14 tallest mountains.
While Bargiel is left with the credit, he was pushed by an experienced team of crew members and local sherpas who risked their lives — K2 has one of the highest mortality rates for climbers in the world — to help him achieve his very specific goal.