Swede on summit push, to ski the
third highest mountain in the world
The Swedish extreme skier Fredrik
Ericsson is trying to become the first person to ski the three highest
mountains in the world. This Saturday he started the summit push on the
third highest mountain, Kangchenjunga (8586m). The climb up to the summit
and the ski descent is expected to take four days. Fredrik’s
partner on the expedition is Norwegian extreme skier Jörgen Aamot.
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-metre peaks, but now the aim is towards the absolute highest. The project
spans over three years and I will try to ski the three highest mountains in
the world, Kangchenjunga (8586m) this autumn, K2 (8612m) next summer and Mount
Everest in the autumn of 2010”
The first challenge begins now when
Fredrik together with his Norwegian companion are starting their summit push
on Kangchenjunga that lies on
the border between Nepal and Indian state Sikkim. Kangchenjunga was first
climbed in 1955 by a British team that included Joe Brown and George Band.
Since then, around 200 climbers have reached the summit. But so far no Swede
or Norwegian has climbed to the summit and no one has skied off the summit of
“This means that we can become the first
Swede and Norwegian to climb to the summit and also the first in the world the
ski the mountain” says Fredrik
Fredrik and Jörgen has spent three weeks
in their base camp on the Yalung glacier at an altitude of 5100 meters. Over
this period they have prepared for the big challenge and acclimated to
altitude through reconnaissance climbs and skiing on Kangchenjunga.
”We have just returned to base camp after one of our
acclimating climbs. So far we have been up to about 7000 meters, just below
where we will set our camp 2. It is very time consuming to find a good route
since we are the only climbers on the mountain. First of all we need to
negotiate a safe way through a labyrinth of Seracs and Crevasses and then
there’s only two of us to break the trail in the deep snow ” Says Fredrik
Since Fredrik and Jörgen are carrying
skis on their back, have randonneboots on their feet and will not use
supplemental oxygen it’s
harder for them to climb the mountain than for most other climbers.
“The Mountain looks very good at moment.
There is a lot of snow so if we can make it to the summit the chances are good
that we will be able to ski all the way down to the snow level at 5500 metres.
We are acclimating well and are now ready to make our summit push”
The summit push starts from base camp and
they will use three camps at 6200 metres, 7200 metres and 7800 metres. From
the last camp the climbing towards the summit at 8586 metres starts at
midnight and it will take around ten hours.
The ski descent, which is the highlight
of the two month expedition, is expected to take five hours. The descent has a
vertical of almost 3100 metres and has very steep sections of up to 50 degrees
“To ski at 8000 meters is not easy. It’s
extremely hard work 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”
For Fredrik the challenge is to take skiing one step further
and to ski where no one has skied before. After ten years of preparations he’s
now ready for his greatest challenge
2008-10-24: Base Camp Life
At the moment we are stuck in base camp and all we can do
is to wait for the weather to change. I’m getting a bit of déjà vu from last
year on Dhaulagiri. Acclimatization climbs passed by without any problems
but as soon as I'm ready for the summit the weather changes totally. Last
year it was a week of snowfall that stopped me, this year the jet stream has
taken over the mountain. For about a week now it’s been around 90 km/h wind
up on 8000 meters and that is no place for us to be in those conditions.
Instead we get to hang out in base camp. So how is life in
the camp? My home is a big four man tent that I got all to myself. My down
sleeping mattress is possible to convert into a nice and comfy chair. That’s
where I spend most of my time. Either listening to music, reading a good book
or just enjoying the amazing view from my tent. Our tent site is not very
exciting. It's made up of ice, sand and rocks and it’s very uneven. But the
mountains surrounding our camp are very impressive. It's an amphi-theatre of
beautiful peaks, from "The Fake Jannu" in the north via Kangbacken, Yalung
Kang, Kangchenjunga to Talung and Kabru in the south. They are all rising
2000 meters higher than we are. That view is hard to beat.
When I'm not in my tent I'm eating food. Jörgen and I have
our own kitchen crew here in base camp. Buddhi, Kansha and Mon are making sure
we are stuffed after breakfast, lunch and dinner. They are a good crew. Not
only are they cooking good food but they are also laughing at our jokes (we
paid extra for that).
Anyway after a week in base camp I’m getting restless and
I’m hoping that the wind will calm down soon so that we can pack our gear and
head up on the mountain again. This time we will try for the summit of
Lat N 27° 40’ 24”
Lon E 88° 05’ 43”
Altitude: 5163 meters
Favorite Norwegian story:
"Why do the Norwegians leave the door open when they go to the toilet"? "So
that no one will look through the keyhole"
Book that I'm reading:
Tissot: The story of a watch company by Estelle Fallet
Music on my MP3 player:
Dio - Holy Diver
Kangchenjunga Ski Expedition - Update 4
Skiing at last
Back in base camp again after a second acclimatization climb
on Kangchenjunga. This time it took us only eight hours, instead of four days,
to climb the 1000 vertical meters up to Camp 1 at 6250 meters. Being better
acclimatized and having a trail to follow makes a big difference.
The weather has been identical to last week. We've had
sunshine in the morning and clouds and snowfall in the afternoon. We are happy
that we have marked the route with willow wands (bamboo sticks), that way we
could easily find the way to C1 even if it was bad visibility almost half the
way up there.
The route from "The Hump" (C1) up to "The Great Shelf" (C2)
goes down for about a hundred meters then up what we call "The Second
Glacier", a steep snow slope with lots of Seracs and Crevasses. Very similar
to "The First Glacier" that goes up to C1.
Being a bit lazy and too comfortable in our sleeping bags we
were not very quick out of the tent in the mornings. That way we didn't get
far before clouds and snowfall stopped us at lunchtime. To our defense: we can
feel the winter coming and the nights are getting colder ;). With this pace it
took us three days from C1 to 6950 meters (almost "The Great Shelf") where we
found a nice ridge to set camp on.
At this moment the weather changed and it got very windy.
According to Meteotest, that are doing our weather forecasts, the wind was 90
km/h at 8000 meters. Maybe a bit less where we were, but still enough. After a
stormy night and when the wind didn't decline the next day we decided to
return to BC.
After four days of uphill it was then time for skiing. It
felt good to step into the bindings after a long summer and a lot of uphill on
this trip. "The Second Glacier" is a nice slope for skiing. It has everything
from low angle traverses to 50 degrees sections. Unfortunately the snow wasn't
great this time but the scenery made up for that. Anyway, skiing on the slopes
of Kangchenjunga was a special feeling.
Both Jörgen and I are in good mood and are acclimatizing
well. We are now ready for the summit push and as soon as we get a weather
forecast giving us four days of nice weather we will go for it.
Stay tuned for more news from Kangchenjunga.
Camp 1 N 27° 40.909'
E 88° 06.958'
Altitude: 6278 meters
Camp 2? N 27° 41.215'
E 88° 07.912'
Altitude: 6959 meters
Book that I'm reading: Everest: The West Ridge by Tom
Music on the MP3 player: Eddie Vedder - Into the wild
Beard competition: Jörgen = Impressive
Not so Impressive
Fredrik’s sponsors: Dynastar, Osprey, Tierra, Hestra, Adidas
Eyewear and Grivel
Supporters: Tissot, Giro, DHL, Exped, Dynafit, Loben
Expeditions and Jamtport
2008-10-12: Route to Camp 1!
Climbing an 8000-meter peak is a time consuming project. Not only can it be
a long and demanding approach to the foot of the mountain but you also need
to spend weeks to get used to the altitude (acclimatize) to be able to climb
the mountain. In total Jörgen and I are spending two month to be able to
climb and ski on Kangchenjunga.
This Autumn Jörgen and I are the only climbers on the
south side of Kangchenjunga. Normally the base camps on the 8000ers are
crowded with climbers and on the mountain there are fixed ropes all along
the routes. Being alone is great, it gives a more adventurous touch to it.
We get to go up on the mountain all by ourselves to search and find a nice
and safe route to climb (and ski). I can almost imagine what it was like for
the British climbers that first climbed Kangchenjunga in 1955.
From our base camp at 5100 meters we have about 3500
meters up to the summit of the mountain and we will use three camps on the
way. During the last four days Jörgen and I have been working our way up to
our first camp. It is located at about 6200 meters on a ridge that was named
“The Hump” by the first ascensionists. The route goes on a fairly steep
glacier that is cracked up by crevasses (cracks) and seracs (ice walls) that
we have to navigate around. The routefinding was a bit tricky and the
weather didn’t cooperate with us either. Each day it was clear and sunny in
the morning but after a only few hours clouds pulled in and it started
snowing. Needing good visibility to move higher up we could only manage to
ascend a few hundred meters a day. We spent one night at camp one before we
returned to base camp. Four days up, three hours down.
Having a good route up to C1 and the fact that Jörgen and
I seem to acclimatize well we are getting good confidence for the future. At
the moment we are resting in base camp before we are heading up the mountain
to continue our acclimatization and trying to figure out the route to Camp 2
at 7000 meters. More news when we are back from C2.
Lat N 27° 40’ 24”
Lon E 88° 05’ 43”
Altitude: 5100 meters
Warmest temp: +36°C
Coldest temp: -11°C
have reached the Kangchenjunga Base Camp and it was not a walk in the park to
get there. We were hoping for eight days of nice walking in the hills and
mountains of eastern Nepal. Now 14 days later I know that the Kangchenjunga
base camp trek is a bit more complicated than that.
were strolling in the sun along rice fields and banana plantations. Then came
the Jungle with the leeches. The days got longer and the rainfalls got more
frequent. As we moved up to higher altitude the weather and the terrain got
nicer. Once in a while I even got a glimpse of a snow capped mountain. Our
mood got better but that didn’t stop Jörgen from catching a cold. He got a
sore throat and a bad cough that kept him a wake most of the night. To get rid
of the cough Jörgen decided to stay a few days in the camp in Tseram (3700m)
while the rest of the crew continued. During the trek we had about 20 porters
that helped us carry our gear and food. When we came up to the Yalung Glacier
that leads up to Kangchenjunga, about half of them didn’t want to continue.
With only half the men it took us two days to travel the distance of a normal
day. If that wasn’t enough, then came the snow. In one day we got 20 cm snow
and that made the rest of the porters give up on us as well. Even though it
gave us some problems I totally understand them. Walking on this glacier is no
fun at all and 20 cm of snow doesn’t make it more exciting. It’s a mix of
sand, rocks and ice and always up or down. Not a single flat spot. The gear
the porters show up in is better suited for a sunny day on the beach than on a
snowy glacier. I’m impressed that they made it as far as they did. Fortunate
for us we were not far from base camp. Jörgen got well and caught up with us
and together with our cooking crew: Buddhi, Kansha and Mon we could move up to
Kangchenjunga Base Camp.
great to be here at the foot of Kangchenjunga and the view of the beautiful
mountains makes the long trek all worthwhile. After 14 days in the jungle and
on the moraine Jörgen and I are getting very excited to take out the skis and
head up to the snow.
Earlier: The Adventure has begun. Jörgen and I are now on the trek towards
Kangchenjunga base camp. Four days have passed and four days to go to reach
camp. It’s just over a week since we arrived in Nepal. We spent three days in
Kathmandu sorting out climbing permit at the ministry of tourism, meetings
with journalists and a chat with Elisabeth Hawley, the master of Himalayan
climbing statistics. We also bought some gear and food that we will need on
Kathmandu is a big and lively city with millions of people. There is a
massive amount of cars and motorcycles and the traffic is the most chaotic
I’ve ever experienced. It’s interesting to visit Kathmandu but it’s a bit too
stressful for a guy like me that is used to the peace and quiet life of
We continued with a one hour flight to Bhadrapur and a jeep ride via Ilam
to Gopetar. After getting delayed one day due to a missing bag on the flight
to Bhadrapurwe left Gopetar last Friday and started the trek towards
Kanghenjunga, We are now halfway on the eight days trek and it’s not the
regular trek that we are used to. We’ve been walking up and down the hills,
going through rise- and cornfields, crossing rives on wooden suspension
bridges and through the jungle. Jörgen and I have agreed that we are not made
for the jungle. It’s warm and moisty, the rocks are slippery and leeches are
attacking us from all directions.
During the trek we have met a lot of nice people that have been telling us
stories about life in Nepal and we have been trying to describe to them what
life is like in Europe. We are now looking forward to leave the jungle and
move up to higher altitude and hopefully we will reach base camp in a few
days. More news when we arrive.
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