I’m not going to turn this blog into a string of press releases, but an interesting one came in today so I’ll post it. The same guys who did that amazing speed ascent and ski descent of Mustagh Ata last year are on Gasherbraum II, according to Reiner Gerstner of Dynafit:
They just skied today from camp 3 (about 7000 m) to the Basecamp. Skiing is very tough because of steep and hard conditions. They belayed part of the skiing for a section using a nice but steep route in the middle. They were roped two or three times but skied the whole thing without any interruption….. (net skiing about 35-40 minutes, fast!). The plan is that after they have succeeded on this first summit they will go down and rest and after that they plan to do it on one push again…….what a nice but crazy idea…in which you need beside physical and mental strength the right light but high performing material….the Dynafit stuff! We SPEED UP….!!
My pro Dynafit bias aside, I find it very cool that randonnee racing athletes are taking their skills to the great ranges. A sport recursing back to its roots so easily is nice to see in these days of specialization. Here is the press release:
High speed on skis on Gasherbrum ll — 8,035 m high Gasherbrum ll provides the latest challenge for the two extreme athletes Sebastian Haag (27) and Benedikt BÃ¶hm (28). The desire to increase their own performance and at the same time enjoy speed in its most intense formâ€“ this is what drives Benedikt BÃ¶hm and Sebastian Haag from Munich when they begin their ascent of the 8,035 m high Gasherbrum ll in Pakistan.
Just last year the two ski mountaineers reached the limits of their physical capabilities in the Chinese Kuen Lun Mountains when they climbed the 7,456 m high Mustagh Ata. In partially icy temperatures that went down as far as â€“35 degrees the athletes reached the peak from base camp at 4,450 m in 9 hours and 25 minutes. After that the duo took just 1 hour 16 minutes to return to base camp. The stop watch recorded a total time of 10 hours and 41 minutes for the return trip.
The background to this success story was the decision to climb the highest peaks the same way modern ski touring racers climb the peaks of the Alps. As a member of the German national ski mountaineering team, BÃ¶hm has a good grounding in ski tour racing. However, as the two racers did not want to give up skis, snow and speed during the summer months, they have decided to take the race to the highest mountains.
This form of mountaineering requires a good marriage of physical fitness and hi-tech products. Every gram of weight must be trimmed back, so for clothing and equipment only very light materials can be used. â€œAt these altitudes, the choice of equipment can be decisive for the success of an expedition. As a member of the Dynafit-GORE TEXÂ® team we have full confidence in the material of our sponsors who have supported us since we began our mountaineering careersâ€? said BÃ¶hm.
On Gasherbrum ll itâ€™s all about speed. At the end of June the two extreme sportsmen headed off for Islamabad. By the end of July they plan to reach the summit of the formidable 8,000 m high mountain in Karakorum in the north east of Pakistan. A neighbour of K2, Broad Peak and Gasherbrum, it is one of the giants among the mightiest peaks on earth.
Very few ski expeditions have ever been attempted on this mountain. The skiers will be faced with their greatest challenge to date, not just from the point of view of altitude, but also as a result of long passages at 45 degree angles and inclines of up to 50 degrees. The ascent on the peak requires not just a high level of technical know-how, experience and fitness but also exceptional skiing ability. The guys approached the expedition with an open mind as to whether they would attempt to set a speed record.
The expedition organiser, The German Alpine Association which also supported their last trip to China, makes sure that everything will go without a hitch. BÃ¶hm and Haag prepared for the expedition on many tours in the Alps, from the Waliser Alps to Karwendel. There are hardly any peaks that they have not yet reached. Although both men have full time jobs, they still manage to make time to train every day near their homes in Garmisch and Tegernsee.
For both extreme sportsmen, ski mountaineering is more than just a sport or even a passion. They are driven to reach the limits of their own abilities. This is the power that pushes them to the highest peaks on earth.