High Altitude Skiing from Swedish Expert

by Jack Geldard – Editor – UKC The Swedish extreme skier Fredrik Ericsson is trying to become the firstperson to ski the three highest mountains in the world. His recent attempt on Kangchenjunga (8586m) withNorwegianextreme skier Jörgen Aamot was unfortunately unsuccessful but Ericsson remains undeterred as the pair were only thwarted by heavy snow. ´Kangch´ lies onthe border between Nepal andthe Indian state Sikkim and was first climbed in 1955 by a British team that included JoeBrown and George Band.Since then, around 200 climbers have reached the summit. But so far noSwede or Norwegian has climbed to the summit and no one has skied offthe summit of Kangchenjunga. Fredrik and Jörgen spent threeweeks in their base camp on the Yalung glacier at an altitude of  5100meters. Over this period they acclimatised with reconnaissanceclimbs and skiing on Kangchenjunga. The pair were carrying skis on their back, had randonne boots on their feet and didnot use supplemental oxygen. All these things stacked up against thepair, making their plans extremely impressive, but they remained optimistic until the bitter end, commenting just before they missed the summit: ?The mountain looks verygood at moment. There is a lot of snow so if we can make it to thesummit the chances are good that we will be able to ski all the waydown to the snow level at 5500 metres. We are acclimatising well and arenow ready to make our summit push.? The pair were stopped short of the summit due to heavy snow, but their ski descent, which was to be the highlight of the two month expedition, went without incident: “To make it down without getting avalanched we had to use all ourexperience and all the tricks in the book. There were some scarysections but mostly we could enjoy nice powder turns on one of thehighest mountains in the world. I am disappointed that we didn´t reachthe summit but at the same time relieved that we made it down safely.We had a great experience in a beautiful environment and I willdefinitely return one day to make a new attempt on Kangchenjunga.” Ericsson is oneof the world´s leading high altitudeskiers with ski descents on some of the highest mountainson earth, including; Peak Somoni, Shisha Pangma, Gasherbrum 2, Laila Peak and Dhaulagiri. Fredrik explained his skiing aspirations: ?I have already skied on three of the 14 8000-metre peaks, butnow the aim is towards the absolute highest. The project spans overthree years and I will try to ski the three highest mountains inthe world, [including] K2 (8612m) next summer and Mount Everest in the autumn of 2010.? Mountain Guide and high altitude expert Kenton Cool summed up what Ericsson is about: “I know Fredrik quite well and he is a sound lad.  I think what heis doing is pretty good; low key, small teams, minimal spray, yetgetting the shit done.  He didn´t get the summit on Kanch this seasondue to heavy snow, or Dhaulagiri last autumn, but he got very close -around 200 metres from the summit I think. He skied from high points onboth. Fredrik normally has small teams, no O2 and little or no Sherpasupport.  I reckon he is a lot more ´Real´ than many of the folk outthere.” Fredrik´s Website: www.fredrikericsson.com. Kenton Cool´s Website: www.dream-guides.com