k2
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Woman Vies for Second-Ever Ski Descent of K2

An American skier and climber aims to become the second person to ski down K2, the world’s second-highest mountain. She’ll do it during K2’s busiest season on record.

Sarah Strattan reached the base camp of K2 on June 24, and then started preparing to climb up the mountain — with a pair of skis.

Strattan plans to become the second person to ski down K2 (28,251 feet) after reaching the summit. She expects the endeavor to take about 2 months. Climbing via the standard route of the Abruzzi Ridge, she will take her skis with her so “I can ski what and when the conditions allow,” she wrote on Instagram.

Broad Peak Expedition ‘Lures’ Strattan’s Efforts

“Experiencing the raw and real beauty that can only come from a ski mountaineering expedition has captivated me and lured me in,” Strattan wrote on June 5. “Last summer I tried to take at least one picture of K2 every day.”

She became entranced with the mountain after seeing it from Broad Peak base camp in 2021. Then, she aimed to ski down the Pakistani peak, the world’s 12th-tallest mountain, after summiting.

But Broad Peak didn’t yield to Strattan’s plans.

“Despite not reaching the summit, I learned more about myself and my capabilities than I ever thought possible, and the beauty of the entire experience is almost indescribable,” Stratton wrote at the time.

However, looking at K2 from the adjacent mountain inspired her with “absolute awe,” and she returned to the Karakoram this year to try her luck on K2.

K2 Ski Descents, Current and Past

Strattan experienced a “challenging journey” to base camp this month, arriving with a sore throat and congestion — with some puking and coughing thrown in for good measure.

 

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A post shared by Sarah Strattan (@sarah_strattan)

Now, she plans to begin her ascent as soon as her health improves. Strattan is using a Garmin tracker, allowing spectators to follow her progress in real time. She also has a porter and plans to use oxygen to reach the summit.

Polish skier Andrzej Bargiel became the first person to ski down K2 in the summer of 2018. He completed his ski descent on July 22 after leaving base camp on July 19.

Bargiel reached the summit alone and without oxygen. He then spent the next 7-plus hours descending from the peak on skis. Learn more in the video below.

To bolster her attempt, Strattan will draw on words you could call both galvanizing and frank. To quote a phrase, she doesn’t appear to think there’s a shortcut to the top of K2.

“‘Motivation comes from the natural human drive to achieve something. Motivation doesn’t last forever no matter how much you want something,'” she wrote, calling the passage one of her favorite quotes.

“‘It’s a temporary effect created by the brain to boost you in the right direction. Discipline is the ability to continue pushing in the right direction when you no longer have motivation doing it for you. Discipline is far more important than motivation and you should never rely on motivation only.'”

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Andrew McLemore
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An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Cuenca, Ecuador, which he uses as a home base for adventures throughout the Americas. When he's not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he's hanging out with his dog Campana.