Polish ski mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel has become the first man to summit Yawash Sar II (6,178m / 20,269 ft) in the Karakoram range in Pakistan. He is then reported to have skied down to the mountain’s base.
Andrzej Bargiel, who was the first man top successfully summit and ski down the world’s second highest peak, K2, in 2018, climbed with Yendrek Baranowski setting off from Base Camp before camping at 5,100m, then departing for the top at 4am.
The duo are reported to have made the ascent sooner than originally planned as Pakistan intends to enforce a tourism travel shuts down on May 8 to limit COVID spread during the end-of-Ramadan holidays.
Before then Bargiel is reported to be aiming to climb and ski Laila Peak (6,096 metres /20,000 ft).
Laila Peak has a distinctive spear-like shape and its northwest face has a slope of 45 degrees for more than 1500 vertical metres.
The mountain has been described as, “one of the most amazing mountains we have ever seen, like a needle it points straight up in the sky,” by the first men who tried to ski it in 2005, Jörgen Aamot and the late Fredrik Ericsson, who died attempting a ski descent of K2 before Bargiel’s successful one. They managed to get 100 vertical metres from the summit before finding conditions too icy and skiing down from below the peak.
A second attempt reached 5,400m before finding an avalanche blocking their ascent and a third attempt in 2016 by an Italian team gave up the ascent 150 metres from the summit due to the amount of snow there. During the ski descent one of the party, Leonardo Comelli, fell 400 metres to his death.
“It seems to me that these peaks are similar, the difficulty will be comparable – both climbing and skiing. We will be accompanied by the spirit of exploration, which is what I appreciate in the mountains,” Bargiel said before the trip.
Update 12 May 2021: Bargiel did manage to summit then ski Laila Peak, leaving his skis 150m from the summit to go back and start his descent from a “safer” spot. This quick video has been released showing the challdenge involved. He and his partner became the second group to ski the mountain after a team of ski mountaineers from Val d’Isere were first to achieve it in 2018.