A few days back we received the stunning news of Ueli Steck making a solo speed climb of Shisha Pangma in just 10.5 hours. Over the past few days more details and information about that ascent have begun to trickle out, even as Ueli and his climbing partner, Don Bowie, make their way for their next big Himalayan peak.
An update was posted to Ueli’s website, HimalayanSpeed.com, that contains some more insight into the climb. It seems that Steck attacked the South Face of the 8013 meter (26,289 ft) after getting a weather forecast that was favorable for his ascent. Bowie was forced to stay behind in ABC, as he has not fully acclimatized yet, but Ueli was able to go in his traditional style, light and fast, all the way to the top. His 10.5 hour climb marks the fastest ever ascent of the South Face and the second fastest 8000 meter climb of all time.
Don Bowie has also posted his thoughts on the climb on his website as well, with some personal insights into what happened as well. He says that Ueli had intended to climb with him, but Don encouraged him to take advantage of their present weather window and have a go at it. The forecasts weren’t good for a few days later, and in mountaineering terms you have to go for it when you can. With that in mind, Ueli went for it, and the rest is history.
Don and Ueli are no en route to Cho Oyu, an 8201 meter (26,906 ft) peak on the border of Tibet and Nepal. They spent just five days on Shisha, much to the surprise of their support crew, who are use to settling in for weeks at a time. Even the yak herder who brought their gear was surprised to get a call back to BC, as he had barely returned home when it was time to pick up the gear once again.
This is just the latest demonstration of Ueli’s versatile climbing skills. I guess there will probably come a time when I stop being surprised at the things this guy pulls off on the mountains, but I’m not sure when that will happen. He is simply an amazing climber, dedicated to his craft, and he’ll probably have another great climb on Cho Oyu before heading over to the Big Hill – Everest – in a few weeks.
And for the commenter who has already been posting anonymously questioning Ueli’s time and wondering about summit photos, you may want to stop trying to drum up controversy where there is none. Ueli’s reputation is beyond reproach, and his skills are WELL documented. I’m sure that you’ll get all the proof you need at some point. As for me, I have all I need in Ueli’s word alone.
Can’t wait to see what he and Don can do on the other two 8000 meter peaks on their itinerary.
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