Swiss Alpinist Ueli Steck is gearing up for another record-breaking season of soloing on some of the most challenging terrain possible. Keep up with his progress here and watch the impossible happen.
Updated 4/22/11: More details have emerged on Ueli Steck's extremely rapid ascent of Shishapangma, including specific times along the route. When he started up the face, Steck says, he was still anticipating just an acclimatization trip up to 7,000m to 7,200m, though he had discussed a summit bid with teammates Don Bowie and Rob Frost. Steck left advanced base camp at 5,800m at 10:30 p.m. and reached the bergschrund below the south face 2.5 hours later. He crossed the bergschrund and started up the main face at 1:10 a.m., according to an email to Freddie Wilkinson, with whom he had acclimatized in Nepal before going to Shishapangma. On the face, he climbed mostly along the British Route, along with sections of Krzysztof Wielicki's solo route and the Spanish Route.
When he passed 7,200m, Steck said he still felt strong. On his website, he wrote, "I promised my wife not to do any solos anymore. But this is not really a solo. In this area a roped party would not really belay. You would lose too much time, and it is not really necessary. I think I can do it, and I can already see the exit. Up or down. Down is also far. So up!"
Once he hit the ridge, Steck made the long traverse to Shishapangma's true summit, which he reached at 11:40, according to Wilkinson, 10.5 hours after crossing the bergschrund. He returned to the gear he had left where he topped out on the face, and then continued along the north side of the ridge to a saddle, from which he downclimbed by a different route than he had climbed. He reached advanced base camp again at 6:30 p.m., 20 hours after leaving.
Updated 4/19/11: Swiss alpinist Ueli Steck, 34, has soloed the 2,000-meter south face of Shishapangma (8,027m/26,335') in 10.5 hours. Read more here.
Updated 4/15/11: Ueli Steck, Canadian Don Bowie, and their support team arrived in base camp below the south face of Shishapangma yesterday. Read the full posts chronicled by Freddie Wilkinson at himalayaspeed.com.