Shisha Speed: More Details About Ueli’s Ascent

Ueli Steck’s Project: Himalaya
Objective 1: Shisha Pangma (8027m)
Chronicled by Freddie Wilkinson

Over the weekend, Swiss alpinist-extraordinaire Ueli Steck blazed up the South face of Shisha Pangma, the 14th highest mountain in the world, ascending more that 2000 vertical meters of terrain to reach the 8027 meter summit in a mere ten and a half hours.

“Our latest weather forecast on the 16th indicated low pressures and high winds would arrive late on the 17th, and the next good weather window would likely not arrive until perhaps the 28th or 29th – if it ever came at all. In other words, the weather forecast was not looking good,” teammate Don Bowie writes on his own website. “Since late February, Ueli has been trekking and training in Nepal – including a successful climb of Cholatse – so he was far ahead of me acclimatization-wise… Together we decided that Ueli would make an immediate trip up the lower British Route to get a feel for conditions and take advantage of the 30 hours of good weather before the storms arrived.”

“Ueli made a point of saying it was his intention to climb together with me, not solo,” Bowie adds. “I appreciated his words, but told him that if it all looked good and he felt strong, he should keep going higher.”

“It was amazing to witness,” adventure-filmmaker Rob Frost reported this morning from Tibet. Frost, who accompanied Steck and Bowie to advanced basecamp at the foot of the face to document Ueli’s ascent for Sender Films, wrote the following account:

“ABC is at about 19,500 feet. Don Bowie, Ueli and I got up there on the 16th, and based on the weather reports it made sense for him to go up onto the British route immediately… Don fed Ueli a Hostess Cupcake (which Ueli had never had before) and then he geared up for his ascent no fewer than 5 hours after reaching ABC. He left the tent door at 10:30 that night, headlamp fading into the darkness. When I awoke the following morning I tried to find him on the south face through the telefoto lens but had no luck. It was like finding a needle in a haystack- a dot in the abyss of a 2,000 meter Himalayan wall. Eventually I spotted him way off to the right of the British route as he was traversing into a hidden gully just below the summit ridge. We caught some of his descent several hours later, and then he strolled into ABC after his sub 20 hour speed ascent of 8027 meter Shisha Pangma.”

Writing in jest, Frost likened the atmosphere of the expedition more to that of a casual day at the crag then a serious high-altitude endeavor. “Seems more like a long sport climbing weekend than a Himalayan expedition… kind of. Not really.”

Confirmation of Steck’s exact line of ascent will take some time to sort out. Steck and Bowie, meanwhile, are already in transit to their next objective: Cho Oyu.

Stay tuned…

6 Comments

  1. Johnny
    Posted April 20, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Awesome…Be safe.

  2. Szabi
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    A few years ago we yelled ” Go planet” now we yell ” Go Ueli” because he is a superhero for us.

  3. Posted April 21, 2011 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Congratulations for your 4th eight thousand!

    • Posted April 26, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      Congratulations! It’s fun following your exciting and BOLD adventures! Wishing you the best of luck and many happy returns to base camp!

  4. Szabi
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    Go Ueli, don’t worry about anyone, anything…you are the best. We are with you.

  5. Fernando
    Posted April 27, 2011 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    venga uli saludos de Mexico

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