On 15th of June 2018, as part of the project - Hic Sunt Leones, Andrzej Bargiel started another expedition under the name - "K2 Ski Challenge". Andrzej decided to return to the Karakorum mountains in Pakistan to finish the project, which he began in the summer of 2017. Andrzej's plan was to ski down from the second highest mountain in the world - K2. Unfortunately, a year ago, dangerous weather conditions prevailing on K2 did not allow him to attempt to reach the summit and he had to postpone the realisation of this dream. However, the reconnaissance he made during that expedition confirmed his conviction that this is possible and this year he managed to achieve the intended goal of skiing directly off the summit.
After a few weeks spent in Karakorum, on Thursday, July 19th, in the late afternoon, Andrzej Bargiel started his way up. On the first day he ascended to Camp 2 where Janusz Gołąb was waiting for him. On the next day the team moved to the Camp 3 located at 7000 m. The following day, Bargiel set off on his own and after a night in the fourth camp at an altitude of 8,000 m, on Sunday, July 22nd, the actual summit push on K2 started successfully. The K2 summit was reached by Andrzej around 11:28 am local time and shortly after he strapped on his skis and started the historic descent.
The ski descent route was prepared in advance and checked for potential difficulties and threats, but still Andrzej encountered some problems. In the higher parts of the mountain there was poor visibility, and Andrzej had to stay in the fourth camp for about an hour and wait for the clear weather. The descent from the summit led through the shoulder to the Cessen's route, from where Andrzej made the passage below the huge seracs that loom above the so-called Messner's traverse, to reach the ridge on the Kukuczka-Piotrowski route few moments later. Andrzej returned to the base camp around 7:30 pm. He fulfilled his great dream, going down in the history of mountaineering! Andrzej would like to dedicate this feat in memory of 100th anniversary of regaining independence by Poland.
The expedition members were Janusz Gołąb, Piotr Pawlus, Marek Ogień and Andrzej’s brother - Bartłomiej Bargiel who had flown his drone to an impressive altitude to film Andrzej standing on the summit and then follow him during this historical descent. Apart from that Bartek used his drone during this expedition to help in rescuing 65-year-old Scotman Rick Allen on Broad Peak.
The main sponsors of this year's expedition were Bank Pekao S.A. and Mercedes-Benz Sobiesław Zasada Automotive. The technical partner of Andrzej Bargiel was Salomon. The expedition suit was once again provided by Pajak and Enel-Sport became a medical partner just as during last year's expedition. The expedition was also supported by the Institute of Media Monitoring. Storytel joined the group of this year's sponsors. The effect of this cooperation is the ATAK2 audiobook, thanks to which we can hear the report from the course of action during the K2 Ski Challenge 2018. Red Bull is Andrzej Bargiel’s partner.
I am three-time Polish champion in ski alpinism, third in the overall World Cup, I have the world record in the Elbrus race and I became the first Pole, who in 2013 managed to summit the eight-thousander of Shishapangma on skis and completed the ski descent from its very top to the bottom. I set a time record in reaching the Manaslu summit and as the second man in history I came down from this peak skiing to the base camp. In 2015, as the first man in the world I completed the ski descent from the Broad Peak summit. In the following year I set out on an expedition to conquer the five highest peaks of the former Soviet Union area. It was a successful completion that resulted in a prestigious mountaineering award - the so called “Snow Leopard”.
I was born on April 18, 1988 in Łętownia, near Jordanów. I am the ninth of eleven children of Maria and Józef Bargiel. Energy has been bursting with me since my childhood. No one was able to deal with me, neither teachers at school, nor parents, who unsuccessfully tried to direct my energy to work in a backyard household.
It was only in the backyard sports that I gave way to my fantasy. Running after the ball, climbing the trees, swimming and romping with the guys was what I liked the most. In high school it became clear that the only way to tame my energy was regular sports training. I started riding horses and doing mountain biking. I even had some small successes, unfortunately my bike just fell apart. Our sports club did not have enough budget to buy a new bike, and parents could not afford such a luxury. Apparently my cycling career wasn’t meant for me.
Then I went back to skis, but I want to tell this story from the beginning …
Well, I bought my first skis from my neighbour when I was 9 years old and I think I did the “deal of my life". I exchanged table tennis paddles for wooden skis with a screwed edge and plastic sliding (height 190 cm) and shoes in size 44 !!! I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep. Even then I knew it would be my passion. As soon as the first snow fell, I went with a bunch of buddies to hills nearby my house. Together, we made the ski runs and built the first ski jumps. It was in these places that I took my first steps in the discipline known colloquially as the "freeride". I often escaped from school or invented strange ailments, thanks to which I could free myself from classes. I can say that it was my private investment in a sports career.
Winter existed only for skis!