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Climbing Pakistan’s K2 is a rare feat — just over 300 people have stood on its peak — but going up the towering rock and then skiing down is a achievement that can be claimed by only one: Andrzej Bargiel.


At 8,611 meters (28,251 ft) above sea level, K2 is the second highest mountain in the world after Mount Everest, and is widely considered the toughest of the big peaks to climb. On July 22, 2018, Polish ski mountaineer Bargiel not only summited K2 after a three-and-one-half day climb, but then snapped on his skis for a hair-raising, record-breaking descent that lasted just 7 hours.

First ever ski descent of K2 made by Andrzej Bargiel

''I work in a way that such a challenge cuts me off from everything. Nothing scares me. I might've worried before, during preparation, but when the time comes, I just do it.''

— Andrzej Bargiel, on skiing down K2

Traditional ski trail ratings range from Green Circle, designating a beginner slope, to intermediate Blue Square trails, to Black Diamond and Double Black Diamond slopes for expert skiers. The K2 trail pioneered by Bargiel requires a wholly new rating (Quintuple Black Diamond?) as there is a good chance he will be the only one to ever make the descent on skis as climate change is rapidly thinning the mountain’s snowpack.


A few years before his K2 stunt, Bargiel climbed, then skied down another mountain in the Karakoram mountain range. Broad Peak, the 12th highest mountain in the world, rises 8,047 meters (26,401 ft) above sea level and offers just a slightly-less terrifying slope than its big brother.