K2 is perhaps the most dangerous mountain in the world. One in every four people who makes an attempt to summit it dies, and nobody has ever climbed it in winter. Only 300 or so people have ever even reached the peak of K2, and its relatively northern location makes it a particularly unpredictable mountain to tame.
And someone just skied down from the summit for the first time in history. Polish adventurer Andrzej Bargiel first tried to make the historic descent last year, only to pull up because of falling rocks and the possibility of causing an avalanche. This time, he made it all the way from the summit to base camp. The majority of mountaineering accidents occur during descents, and skiing obviously increases that risk dramatically.
Italian alpinist Michele Fait died trying to ski K2 in 2009, a year before his friend Fredrik Ericsson fell to his death near the summit. In 2001, Hans Kammerlander stopped after just a quarter mile when he witnessed a Korean climber fall to his death. Dave Watson actually made it through the infamous bottleneck section all the way to base camp in 2009, though he didn’t start from the summit.
Bargiel reached the summit around 11:30 a.m. Sunday morning, and he made it to base camp eight hours later after being forced to wait out cloudy weather a few times.
When Bargiel finished up, he said he was pretty much all done with K2. “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.”