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As If Making the First Ascent of this Peak Wasn’t Hard Enough, He Skied Down It Too

Last Friday, Polish alpinist Andrzej Bargiel completed the first ascent of Yawash Sar II (6,178 m/20,269 ft) in the Pakistani Karakoram, before skiing down the mountain to complete its first ski descent. 

Bargiel and partner Jędrek Baranowski attacked the west face of the peak, with Baranowski throwing in the towel halfway up the route and waiting for Bargiel to return. The latter summited around 11:00 am after a 7-hour push. “The wall was very demanding, especially in the summit cone, but the descent was quite enjoyable,” Bargiel wrote on Facebook. “It was a great adventure, although we didn’t exactly achieve our common goal because we didn’t reach the summit together,” he added. Bargiel also uploaded a short video showcasing his climb and descent.

One of 11 children, Bargiel achieved widespread fame after completing the first ski descent of K2 (summit to Base Camp). In addition to setting records on the 8000ers Broad Peak (first ski descent) and Manaslu (fastest summit) among others, he holds the world’s fastest time completing the “Snow Leopard Award,” which is bestowed on climbers who summit all five 7,000-meter mountains in the former Soviet Union. Bargiel climbed all five peaks in under 30 days in 2016, beating the previous record by 12 days. He is also a three-time Polish ski mountaineering champion, and was named a National Geographic Explorer of the Year in 2019. 

Yawash Sar II, located in the Karakoram’s Ghujerab Mountains, has seen a handful of attempts, with a few expeditions entering the region at least since 2011. A 2018 attempt by fellow Pole Krzysztof Wielicki and Pakistani Jalal Uddin was stymied at 5,800 meters, when the duo decided to retreat after running out of rope. The Italian climber Frank Gasser, also in the party, made two unsuccessful solo attempts of his own, reaching around the same elevation. 

Of the summit, Bargiel wrote, “Knowing that no one has been there before is magical.”

He and his team are now trekking towards nearby Laila Peak (6,096 m/20,000 ft), their second objective. The remote summit saw its first ski descent in 2018 via the northwest face, accomplished by the French trio of Carole Chambaret, Tiphaine Duperier, and Boris Langenstein.