K2 had a record year this 2022 summer. Most of the summits were by Sherpas or Pakistani climbers helping their paying clients, but a handful were the rare type: no supplemental oxygen, no Sherpa support, and no commercial team.
Danish climber Andreas Ritzau Frydensberg with American Eric Gilbertson summited Broad Peak on July 18th and K2 on July 28th. On his website, Country Highpoints, Eric describes their Broad Peak, and K2 climbs in detail. They climbed unsupported, using Pakastani Alpine Adventure Guides for base camp services. So they climbed with no on-mountain support – no Sherpas to set up tents, cook food, or break trail. They also didn’t use supplemental oxygen.
They did use the fixed ropes put in by the commercial teams. They also used tents at some of the high camps with permission from their owners or that were obviously abandoned. And, of course, they did use a boot path when available. Also, they teamed up with other independent climbers to leverage power to break trail, for general moral support.
And, yes, they found themselves following some of the commercial teams but passed the oxygen-supported teams, even though they were climbing without. So as you can see, it’s always a challenge to characterize a climb using terms like “solo, alone, unsupported, or independent.” Andres told me, “Of course, the extensive sherpa support on especially K2 benefitted everyone.”
Of note is that Eric is climbing the highest point in every country on earth – that’s 196!! Thus far, he and his twin brother, Matthew, have topped out in 135 countries. And, yes, they have all the US Highpoints, all 50.
Before getting to their story, I admit that 2022 caused me to lose some hope in the sport I admire. Too many inexperienced climbers, too much talk of records, most important only to the individual seeking it, and teams with too many clients supported but too many Sherpas. It just felt out of control. I’m thankful we had a relatively small number of deaths, but as I learn more, I see a large number of rescues, and near misses, so this was a season of luck.
In looking at what Eric and Andreas did, they gave me hope. I am excited to see younger climbers demonstrate creativity, excellent judgment, and impressive results, all in good style. It gave me hope for our sport, and I’m proud of them and several others who climbed similarly. Now, onto the interview.
This relaxed-paced interview with Eric and Andreas only days after they returned home to Seattle and Denmark, respectively.
Memories are Everything
Interview with Eric and Andreas
The Podcast on alanarnette.com
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