Polish ski mountaineer/superhero Andrzej Bargiel just realized a lifelong dream: being the first to ski from the summit of the world’s second highest peak, K2. After reaching the 28,251-foot summit on Sunday morning, he clicked into his skis and picked his way down the line of a lifetime. The historic first descent is especially noteworthy considering Bargiel soloed the peak without supplementary oxygen.
According to RedBull, Bargiel’s ascent took three days. After clicking into his skis around 1130 A.M. Sunday, he returned safely to basecamp around 7:30 P.M., following the Cesen route, below the seracs above the Messner Traverse, and finally down the Kukuczka-Piotrowski route. He used one rappel to descend above the infamous Bottleneck, and had to wait in Camp 4 for a few hours for weather to clear. Thanks to favorable conditions, K2 was also summited by 31 other climbers on Sunday.
Unlike most high-altitude expeditions, Bargiel’s solo ascent allowed him to move fast and light and focus on one thing: successfully skiing the peak. The 13,000-foot ski descent had been attempted several times before, claiming the lives of climbers Michele Fait in 2009 and Fredrik Ericsson in 2010. Famed alpinist Hans Kammerlander abandoned his ski descent off the summit in 2001 after watching a fellow climber fall to his death. Even Bargiel himself abandoned a ski attempt in 2016 after encountering dangerous conditions.
Bargiel’s brother Bartek Bargiel was on hand to document the adventure. Bartek set a record of his own, setting an altitude record for a camera drone by flying it above K2’s summit to film his brother’s descent. Bartek was also the drone pilot who helped rescue climber Rick Allen on nearby Broad peak a few days ago.
Check out some footage from the historic ski descent.