Andrzej Bargiel has been honoured as a 2019 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year following his historic feat of skiing down from the summit of K2 – the world’s second highest mountain. Here is all you need to know:
– The Polish ski mountaineer had to call off a 2017 attempt, however found a weather window in July 2018 to ascend the peak for four days and then ski straight back down guided by his crew of brother Bartłomiej, Janusz Gołąb, Piotr Pawlus and Marek Ogień.
– The 30-year-old is the current record holder in taking the least amount of time to achieve the Snow Leopard award, which comprises a summit of all five peaks of 7000m and above located in the former Soviet Union.
– It was his K2 feat on July 22, though, that propelled him into the global spotlight especially with the threat of rockfalls and avalanches on the mountain that is steeper, colder and more remote than Mount Everest.
– He wanted to do it in 2018 because he was worried that climate change would transform the big glacier too fast and the line he had in mind wouldn’t work.
– His training in the Tatra mountains where he lives and the Alps helped him tackle temperature differences on the face of the mountain that measured -30 degrees Celsius at the top and +30 degrees at the bottom.
– On his triumphant return to Base Camp, he said: “Relief and joy. I had a lot of extreme emotions because not everything went to plan. Coming back after the first year’s failed attempt I was fully aware of the risks, but I also knew how to do it. It was difficult until the very end, but then I was as happy as a kid!”
– Chris Davenport, two-time World Extreme Skiing champion and a previous National Geographic Adventurer of the Year honouree, revealed: “There’s a reason it’s never been done before. Some of the best ski mountaineers in the world have died on K2.”