While I was away a controversy over Christian Stangl’s K2 summit flared up and came to the forefront, when a number of climbers questioned whether or not the Austrian mountaineer actually did reach the top of the world’s second tallest mountain. Considering Christian has only provided a single photo of an unidentifiable climber somewhere near the summit, and no other GPS data, I can’t say I’m surprised that this issue has come up. Some commenters in the original story of the climb were already questioning its validity weeks ago when it was first reported, while I took a “wait and see” attitude, hoping that Stangl would provide more details upon his return home as promised.
ExWeb has a complete report of the affair which can be found here. Essentially, several climbers on K2, including Maxut Zhumayev and Gheorghe Dijmarescu, questioned Christian’s claims as Sherpa reports say that no one was seen high on the mountain, and that it appeared as if no one has stayed in Camp 3 at all, as Christian had claimed. Furthermore, Stangl’s ice axes were still in C3, and his tent was still stowed. They also reported that the snow up to C4 was waist deep, and there was no evidence that anyone had gone up the mountain.
Christian countered with a detailed explanation of his own, explaining the route that he took to the top, and stating that he had indeed slept at C3, but had re-stowed his tent before he left so that others could use on a later attempt, which never came by the way. He said he also left his ice axes behind, as they weren’t needed from that point forward.
When pressed to provide more concrete evidence of his successful summit, Stangl bristled some, and lashed out at the “climbing community” by saying he doesn’t want to be a part of such a community that calls his character into question in such a manner. He also says that Dijmarescu has his own personal agenda, and has hinted at some threats and blackmail attempts that have been aimed his way. For his part, Stangl believes that he has closed the book on the subject, saying that he climbs only for himself, doesn’t need to be on any lists, and that he alone knows the truth of his climb.
As for what I think, I have to agree with ExWeb in that Christian has never been at the heart of a controversy like this ever before, and that I generally believe innocent until proven guilty. But on the other hand, I can’t help but wonder why the Austrian climber doesn’t just provide more evidence, and put an end to the chatter once and for all.
I guess we may never know for certain what happened up there.
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