As usual, Explorers Web has some details on Christian Stangl’s K2 summit last week. As was reported on Friday, the Austrian mountaineer claimed the only successful climb of the mountain this season following a 70-hour alpine style solo push to the top. At the time, we didn’t know much other than that Christian has summitted, with a promise of more info to come. Turns out it was quite the ordeal.
According to ExWeb, Christian initially set out at 5 PM local time on Tuesday, going up the Abruzzi Spur. He pushed on until he reached Camp 3, where he reports that the weather cleared as forecasts had predicted. On the route up it had snowed for most of the time, and falling rocks made things difficult, but the clear weather gave him incentive to push forward.
At 10 AM on Thursday Stangl finally reached the top of K2, a mountain that he says that he has spent four and a half months on over the past three years, and has seen only one good day. That day came last week when he topped out. After staying just long enough to get some photos and take in the view, he immediately turned around and started back down, with the weather already starting to change. Christian says that the visibility wasn’t very good on his descent.
He continued his descent all through the day on Thursday and well into the night, finally stopping for rest beneath a large rock at around mid-night. He slept for about four hours, and awoke to see a large cat standing in front of him. The climber could barely believe his eyes, but when he reported the sighting back in BC, they told him it was likely a snow leopard. In my opinion, that makes him twice blessed, he reached the summit of K2, and caught a glimpse of the exceedingly rare snow leopard too!
After he woke up, Christian continued his descent, getting back to Base Camp on Friday morning. He then proceeded to sleep for 12-hours straight, before packing up and heading out of BC. He’s now trekking back to Skardu and hopes to head home as soon as possible. He says that he also intends to make a more detailed report of the climb upon his return home, but that it was one of the most difficult things that he has ever done, and that if all mountains were like this one, he’d stop climbing immediately.
Check out the ExWeb article for more details, but it sounds like it was an incredibly challenging and lonely climb for Stangl. It took all of his stamina to summit, and now he just wants to put K2 behind him. I don’t think he’ll be planning on making a repeat performance any time soon.