“A happy ending to an extremely difficult season on the Karakorum.”
— Luis Stitzinger | LOWA PRO Team
The Gasherbrum 1, or “Hidden Peak”, in the Karakorum Mountains of Pakistan provided the 49-year-old Luis Stitzinger from Füssen in Allgäu with a surprising success in mid-July: what is likely to be the only ascent of the 8,068-metre mountain and a ski descent in this season. Just a few days before pulling off the trick, neither Stitzinger nor his partner Corona was counting on much of anything at all. The two athletes reached high camp 3 at 7,200 metres under adverse conditions. During the night, a storm and snowfall clouded the mountain climbers’ hopes. But the skies suddenly cleared in the second half of the night, and the German-Italian team was able to set off at 2:30 a.m.
Thirteen to 14 hours later, the athletes Luis Stitzinger and Gianpaolo Corona had reached the top of the 8,068 metre Hidden Peak – an ascent through virgin calf-deep snow in Alpine style and without the use of bottled oxygen. With evening approaching, including a forecast of ominously bad weather, the athletes descended the mountain as quickly as they could. Stitzinger, who wanted to ski down the mountain in addition to climbing it, skied the first section to the high camp. Once darkness set in, he took off his skis and walked the remaining distance to the base camp – with the help of a GPS device because the storm was already raging and he could not manage the descent in any other way.
Despite the raging storm, both athletes reached the camp safely and continued their descent on the following day. Stitzinger had to pass on the 55 degree “Japanese Couloir”, between high camp 3 and 2 at 6,400 meters because of the threat of avalanches: “It was a tough decision for me to make, ” he said. “You don’t like to leave the fillet on your plate. But there was no other choice.” From here, he was able to ski to the large icefall (5,400 metres) and reached the basis camp located 300 metres below shortly thereafter.
Many expeditions had to be called off following weeks of unending snowstorms: “Even after the weather finally settled down, the huge amounts of snow and the poor conditions resulted in an unusually low number of summit successes on the Pakistani eight-thousanders. We are that much happier because we were able to pull it off together as a two-man team!”
“Freezing cold and extreme heights require a boot that can take on any situation. The expedition 8000 EVO RD is such an adventurer.”