Himalaya 2011: More On Ueli’s Speed Ascent Of Shisha Pangma

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.


7 thoughts on “Himalaya 2011: More On Ueli’s Speed Ascent Of Shisha Pangma”

  1. Well said Kraig!
    Funny how some people just seem to have to drum up controversy where none typically is. How about we simply enjoy in what a fellow adventurer has accomplished as efforts like this raise all of us above…

  2. Agreed DSD! Ueli is such an amazing athlete and he seems like a really class act as well. It seems that the terms "speed climb" and "speed record" automatically get some people fired up.

  3. wow. great himalaya is truely great.. i just get shivers watching it in pictures. great work done!!

  4. I agree wis "no summit photo" "no starting photo" "no timers at start or summit".
    No summit photo? Not acceptable.

  5. I don't think anyone is saying we're giving Ueli a pass on the summit photo, just that we expect they'll come out at some point.

    Unlike Christian Stangl, for instance, Ueli had a witness and there are photos of him high on the mountain. He also documents his climbs extensively, so I think we're waiting for his team to have some time to share the images and video.

  6. "Unlike Christian Stangl, for instance, Ueli had a witness and there are photos of him high on the mountain."

    Ueli had a witness? Where?

    There were no summit witnesses.

    Discussed below and some links to Ueli's website:

    On his website, and in the abundant media


    he reported starting from ABC (Advance Base Camp).

    and his website


    10:25 PM (16. April): I left ABC
    1:10 AM (17 April): I just crossed the Bergschrund
    11:40 AM: I reached summit.
    6.30 PM: Returned to ABC

    This would make his total time to the summit 13h:15m (Advance Base Camp to the Summit). Bottom to top.

    Not "10.5 hours" as Ueli and the media report


    The time Ueli claims is from the Bergshrund to the Summit, not from the bottom to the Summit.
    A complete ascent is from the bottom to the summit. ABC to Summit.

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