Everest speed ascent: Christian Stangl summits in 16 hours without O2 on a day of tragedy

Posted: May 31, 2006 04:42 pm EDT

(MountEverest.net) May 25, 2006 was a sad day on Everests north side. Thomas Weber died near the summit, and Lincoln Hall was left for dead. However, the date is a brighter memory for Austrian Christian Stangl, who reached the summit of Everest without using supplementary O2, 16 hours and 42 minutes after leaving BC! Even faster was the descent: Just six hours from summit to BC that same day, according to Austrian website Mounteverest.at.

´Holy God, youre climbing without O2!?

Christian left BC at 5:00 pm, dressed in light down suit and carrying ½ liter of liquid, some carbohydrate-gel packs and salted cookies. He used a ski-pole, but no ice-axe or jumar. He had no radio or sat-phone with him.

Reportedly he progressed much faster than during a previous attempt, on May 15. However at 3:00 am, feeling his feet cold, he took a rest in the remains of an abandoned tent at 8.200m. After about one hour massaging his feet, he proceeded up, reportedly feeling in great shape.

Once on the summit Pyramid I saw a climber carrying two O2 bottles, Christian told Mounteverest.at. Trying to reduce the distance between him and I , I increased my speed even more. At rocky sections I was in such a hurry, I didnt use the fixed ropes unsecured, I climbed straight up. The climber on O2 had noticed me, and speeded up too. He reached the summit one minute before me. Then he looked at me, took away his mask and exclaimed: ´Holy God, youre climbing without O2!?

On a killing field

I didnt let euphoria cloud my mind I needed to descend fast. On the way up I had passed about 10 climbers below the First Step - the living ones that is, as I had passed a similar number of dead bodies. A killing field for real.

Chistian hasnt reported his summit time but according to the Austrian website he left BC at 5:00pm and took 16h 42 mins to reach the summit: That makes for 9:42 am as summit time.

ExplorersWeb have contacted Christian, asking for further details on his climb.

Summiting that day were also Scott Woolums' group, and the 7summit-club team. According to Alex Abramovs official report, Lincoln Hall and three Sherpas reached the summit at 9.00 am.
Thomas Weber, a climber with weakened sight, went completely blind at 9:15 only 50 meters from the summit. For this reason, Thomas, Harry and two Sherpas began descent at 9:30 a.m.

At 10:00 the descending Lincoln Hall reached a snow triangle, at 8800 meters. At this point, Sherpas transmitted, Lincoln started to move slowly, and lost his coordination. At 10:30 Lincoln lay down in the snow, and could not move independently any more.

According to Harry, Scott Woolums helped to retrieve Thomas, strangled in a bad position on the ridge by the second step, but it was too late. The climber is suspected to have died of stroke. 2 Sherpas tried to lower Lincoln Hall for 6 hours, but the climber was also left by the second step after reportedly showing no signs of life for several hours. The next morning, Lincoln was found by a team of climbers including Dan Mazur on summit push. They cared for him until expedition Sherpas reached them and brought Lincoln down.

There is no official file of speed records on the North side of Everest. Latest record have been achieved on the south side of the mountain, the climbers using O2.

The official speed-record ascent on Everest is currently held by Pemba Dorjie Sherpa. On May 21, 2004 Pemba reached the summit in 8 hrs 10 min. He used supplementary O2 and climbed from the south side.

Also from the South side, on Oct 5, 1990, Marc Batard climbed Everest w/o O2 in 22 hrs 29 min.


Christian's summit picture, courtesy of Mounteverest.at (click to enlarge).

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