Andrzej Bargiel achieves first Ski Descent of K2

Polish ski mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel has made the coveted first ski descent of K2 (8611m) in the Karakoram range. This was Bargiel's second attempt at a descent; a feat which has long attracted the world's best ski mountaineers without success, often ending in tragedy. Bargiel descended via a combination of the normal route (Abruzzi), the Basque route to camp 3, then traversed via Messner's variant to the Polish route and skied down to base camp - all without removing his skis.

Andrzej Bargiel: First ski descent of K2., 144 kb
Andrzej Bargiel: First ski descent of K2.
© Marek Ogień/Red Bull Content Pool

Bargiel had soent a few weeks acclimatising in the Karakoram before attempting the climb and descent. Beginning on 19th July, he ascended to the 2nd base camp. The following morning Bargiel and his team moved to 3rd base camp at 7000m, before leaving for and reaching the summit on 22nd July at 11:30am local time.

Not wishing to hang around, Bargiel promptly set off on his ski descent. He managed to link snowy sections the entire way down, on what is widely regarded as the most technical and dangerous peak in the world.

Andrzej's descent line very roughly marked in yellow, by UKC., 118 kb
Andrzej's descent line very roughly marked in yellow, by UKC.

From the summit, he descended along the shoulder towards the Cesen Route, passing below huge seracs, then along the Messner traverse, and the arête on the Kukuczka-Piotrowski route. Crevasse-ridden snow fields were the next obstacle to negotiate. Bargiel made one abseil around 50 metres above the Bottleneck and was forced to wait in Camp 4 as clouds cleared and visibility improved. He arrived at base camp around 7:30pm local time.

Andrzej Bargiel hiking with his skis., 135 kb
Andrzej Bargiel hiking with his skis.
© Marek Ogień/Red Bull Content Pool

Bargiel was supported in this project by his brother, Bartłomiej - whose drone skills recently helped rescue Scottish mountaineer Rick Allen on Broad Peak - Janusz Gołąb, Piotr Pawlus, Marek Ogień and a team of Sherpas.

Other notable ski descents made by the 30 year-old include Shishapangma's Central summit in 2013, Manaslu in 2014 and Broad Peak in 2015. In 2016, Bargiel aborted a ski descent on K2 due to high temperatures and risky conditions.

K2 Ski Descent attempts - via

  • 1998 - Edmund Joyeusaz of Italy skied from around 7000m
  • 2001 - Italian Hans Kammerlander skied circa 400 metres down from the summit before abandoning his attempt to save a fallen Korean climber.
  • 2009 - American David Watson skied the Bottleneck
  • 2009 - Italian Michele Fait fell to his death while skiing from Camp 2 with Fredrik Ericsson
  • 2010 - Fredrik Ericsson died after a fall from the Bottleneck while climbing, with the intention of making a ski descent
  • 2011 - Luis Stitzinger skied from 8050m to base camp.

Watch a video of Andrzej climbing to the summit:

Forums 26 comments

I can't see any criticism of the descent from either 2 posters you have replied to.  Trying to understand something that you are not familiar with doesn't necessarily make it a criticism.  Of course, it's easy to...
I would like to know how anyone can criticize an achievement like this. Debating ethics like this is absolute rubbish. Some people will never accept the achievements of others, no matter what they will do. All they will...
I don't think it is. Climbing is primarily about the style of ascent whereas I presume skiing is primarily about the styles of descent (is anyone fretting about whether he used fixed ropes or whatever on the way up?). A...
Hmm, kind of disagree.   The type of descent blurs the lines with mountaineering.  Obviously, there's no lifts or piste, and in order to get to the top of the mountain, considerable mountaineering skills are...
You really are joking, right? You are criticizing this guy for using an abseil? Its one the of the hardest mountains in the world to climb, let alone ski down. Can you ski? I think you are joker, and this is troll...
Well at least one person has claimed to have skiied Everest without skiing quite a bit of it, so it seems so. Post edited at 11:00

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