Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Photo: Tomas Van Hoek
Fredrik Ericsson skiing at about 6500 meters on Dhaulagiri
The Swedish extreme skier Fredrik Ericsson is trying to become the first person to ski the three highest mountains in the world. The three year project starts this week when Fredrik goes to the Himalayas to ski the third highest mountain, Kangchenjunga (8586m). Fredrik’s partner on the expedition is Norwegian extreme skier Jörgen Aamot.
Fredrik Ericsson is one of the leading high altitude skiers in the world with ski descents on some of the highest mountains in the world, including; Peak Somoni, Shisha Pangma, Gasherbrum 2, Laila Peak and Dhaulagiri.
“I have already skied on three of the 14 8,000-meters peaks, but now the aim is towards the absolute highest. The project spans over three years and I will try to ski the three highest mountains in the world, Kangchenjunga (8586m) this Autumn, K2 (8612m) next summer and Mount Everest in the Autumn of 2010,” says Ericsson.
The first big challenge starts now when Fredrik together with his Norwegian companion are going to the Himalayas. The mountain they plan to climb and ski – Kangchenjunga – lies on the border between Nepal and the Indian state Sikkim. Kangchenjunga was for many years assumed to be the highest mountain in the world before the correct altitude of Mount Everest was established in 1849.
Kangchenjunga was first climbed in 1955 by a British team including Joe Brown and George Band. Since then, around 200 climbers have reached the summit. But so far no Swede or Norwegian has climbed to the summit and no one has skied off the summit of Kangchenjunga.
“This means that we can become the first Swede and Norwegian to climb to the summit and also the first in the world the ski the mountain,” Ericsson said.
After a long journey by airplane, jeep and foot they will end up on the Yalung glacier where they will set up base camp at an altitude of about 5,300 meters. Over the course of three weeks they will prepare for the big challenge by several acclimating climbs. In the middle of October, Fredrik and Jörgen start the hard climb to the top of Kangchenjunga.
“We will carry all our equipment by ourselves; we have randonne boots on our feet and will not use supplemental oxygen. Therefore it’s harder for us to climb the mountain than for most of the other climbers,” Ericsson said.
The climbing is mostly on a glacier, the route is long and serious and it’s extremely strenuous climbing at that altitude. Fredrik and Jörgen are planning to use four days from base camp to the summit and they will spend three nights in camps on the way.
“On the summit day we start climbing at midnight and I believe it will take about 10 hours to reach the top,” Ericsson said.
The ski descent, which is the highlight of the two months long expedition, is expected to take five hours. The descent goes all the way down to base camp, has a vertical fall of almost 3,300 meters with some very steep sections of up to 50 degrees inclination.
“To ski at 8,000 meters is not easy. It’s extremely hard work and in the beginning we have to stop to rest after only a few turns. After four to five turns I’m as exhausted as after skiing 1,000 vertical meters in the Alps,” Ericsson said.
To follow the expedition check out Fredrik’s website:
. Fredrik will post regular updates on the site.
Facts: Fredrik Ericsson
Fredrik Ericsson grew up in a town called Umeå in the northern part of Sweden but since 2000 spent most of his time in Chamonix in the French Alps. As a professional skier he spends the winter travelling to ski resorts in the Alps and exotic mountain ranges around the world. When Fredrik’s not skiing he enjoys climbing in the Mont Blanc range.
Below is a short summary of Fredrik’s previous ski descents:
2003 – Peak Somoni (7 495 m), Tadzjikistan.
2004 – Central summit of Shisha Pangma (8 012 m), Tibet.
2005 – Gasherbrum 2 (8 035 m), Pakistan.
2005 – Laila Peak (6 069 m), Pakistan, skied from 5 940 m.
2007 – Dhaulagiri (8 167 m), Nepal, skied from 8 000 to 4 700 meter.
Fredrik’s sponsors: Dynastar skis, Osprey, Tierra, Hestra, Adidas Eyewear and Grivel
Supporters: Tissot, Exped, DHL, Giro, Ortovox, Dynafit, Therm-Ic, Jämtport and Loben Expeditions