This summer, Swedish extreme skier Fredrik
Ericsson will embark on his dream of becoming the first person to ski the
world’s three highest mountains: Mount Everest, K2 and Kangchenjunga.
Arguably, the toughest challenge of the three will be his expedition to the
world’s second highest mountain, K2, which begins in June 2009.
Fredrik Ericsson is one of the world’s
leading high altitude skiers with ski descents on some of the highest
mountains on earth, including Peak Somoni, Shisha Pangma, Gasherbrum 2,
Laila Peak and Dhaulagiri.
“I have already skied on three of the 14
8000-meter peaks. During these adventures I gained critical experience that
will apply towards my goal of skiing the absolute highest. The project spans
two years and I will try to ski the three highest mountains in the world: K2
(8612m) this summer, Kangchenjunga (8586m) in autumn 2009, and Mount Everest
(8850m) in the autumn of 2010,” says Fredrik.
The first big challenge starts now when
Fredrik, together with his Italian companion Michele Fait, go to the
Karakoram mountain range in Pakistan. The mountain they plan to climb and
ski, K2, is arguably the hardest of all 8000-meter peaks. It is an
incredibly beautiful, remarkably steep pyramid with no easy route to the
top. Climbing the mountain is complicated by unusually severe and
unpredictable weather systems.
K2 was first climbed in 1954 by the
Italians Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli. Since then, The Savage
Mountain – as it has come to be called due to the extraordinarily high
number of deaths on the mountain – has been climbed on 10 different routes
and only around 200 people have summited. So far no one has made a complete
ski descent from the summit of K2.
“This means that we can become the first in the world to ski
the mountain,” says Fredrik.
After a long, rough journey by airplane, bus, jeep and on foot
the team will arrive on the Goodwin-Austen Glacier at the foot of K2 where
they will set up base camp at an altitude of about 5,000 meters. They will
prepare for the big challenge over a period of one month during which they
will undertake several acclimatizing climbs. One of these training climbs will
be a side trip to attempt the first complete ski descent of coveted Laila Peak
(6069m). Mid-July will see the duo start the grueling climb to the top of K2.
“We will not use supplemental oxygen and will carry all the
same equipment as the other climbers. In addition, we’ll also be carrying all
of our ski equipment and wearing ski touring boots which are not nearly as
warm, comfortable or functional as climbing boots. This makes the climb much
more difficult for us than for other climbers,” says Fredrik.
Fredrik and Michele plan to climb the south-southeast ridge, a
long and serious route featuring extremely strenuous, high-altitude climbing.
During the weeks leading to their final push, the team will methodically climb
higher and higher up the mountain while their bodies and minds grow accustomed
to the debilitating hardships of climbing at such altitude. When the team is
fully acclimatized, the two intrepid skiers will need four days to get from
base camp to the summit, spending three nights in desolate, high-altitude
camps on the way.
“On the final day of our summit push we will start climbing
from our 8000 meter camp at midnight and I believe it will take about 12 hours
of climbing in The Death Zone to reach the top,” says Fredrik.
The ski descent, which is the highlight of the two-month
expedition, is expected to take five hours. The descent from the summit all
the way to base camp, has a vertical drop of almost 3600 meters and has very
steep sections of up to 50 degrees inclination.
“To ski at 8000 meters is extraordinarily difficult and in the
beginning we have to stop to rest after only a few turns. After four to five
turns I’m as exhausted as after skiing 1000 vertical meters in the Alps,” says
The project to be the first in the world to ski the three
highest mountains is a step towards Fredrik’s ultimate goal to ski all 14 of
the world’s 8000-meter peaks.
Facts: Fredrik Ericsson
Fredrik Ericsson grew up in a town called Umea in the northern
part of Sweden but since 2000 has spent most of his time in Chamonix in the
French Alps. As a professional skier he spends the winter traveling to ski
resorts in the Alps and exotic mountain ranges around the world. When
Fredrik’s not skiing he enjoys climbing in the Mont Blanc range.
Below is a short summary of Fredrik’s previous ski descents:
2003 - Peak Somoni, Tajikistan (7,495m). Skied from summit to
2004 - Central summit of Shisha Pangma,Tibet (8,012m). Skied
from summit to 5,600 meters.
2005 - Gasherbrum 2, Pakistan (8,035 m). Skied from summit to
2005 - Laila Peak, Pakistan (6,069 m). Skied from 5,940
2007 – Dhaulagiri, Nepal (8,167 m). Skied from 8,000 to 4,700
2008 – Kangchenjunga, Nepal (8586 m). Skied from 7,000 to
Fredrik’s sponsors: Dynastar, Osprey, Tierra, Hestra, Adidas
Eyewear and Grivel
Supporters: Tissot, Exped, Giro,
Scarpa, Primus, Ortovox, Therm-Ic, Jämtport
weather, high altitude double boot for extreme conditions The Olympus
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See more here.