Photo courtesy of Veikka Gustafsson.
Veikka Gustafsson has climbed Gasherbrum I in Pakistan, his 14th 8,000-meter peak without supplementary oxygen, making him the ninth person in history to achieve this feat. Gustafsson, a 41-year-old climber from Finland, was the longtime partner of Ed Viesturs, the first and only American to climb all the 8,000ers. Viesturs completed the quest in 2005, also without oxygen.
Gustafsson and his climbing partners have returned safely to Gasherbrum base camp.
Gustafsson climbed his first 8,000er without extra oxygen in 1993. In 1995, he summited Makalu, his first 8,000-meter peak with Viesturs. Altogether, the two climbers did six of the giant peaks as a team; they made four unsuccessful 8,000-meter attempts together and repeated Everest while working on a film project. Gustafsson was climbing with Viesturs in 2005 on Annapurna when the American finished his 8,000-meter project.
“I think it’s very cool that Veikka completed his endeavor,” Viesturs said. “It took him 16 years, as did mine. Lots of folks don’t understand the effort and persistence one needs to keep going like that for 16 years. With failures and successes along the way, there’s a lot of ups and downs. Staying safe and not letting ambition outweigh common sense is also hard, especially with the final peaks.
“It was a blast to do the climbs that I did with him,” Viesturs added. “He was the ‘perfect partner.’”
Gustafsson is the third man to complete the 8,000er quest in 2009, and the second to do it without supplementary oxygen. Denis Urubko from Kazakhstan did it with a stylish alpine-style new route on Cho Oyu, and German Ralf Dujmovits finished the feat on Lhotse.
Date of Ascent: July 2009