Kristin Harila: 14 eight-thousanders in three months?

Kristina Harila

Even if you might turn up your nose at the alpinistic value of the project, Kristin Harila shows what is possible on the eight-thousanders in terms of time – if one gathers around oneself not just one but many strong companions, has the necessary fitness and determination, climbs with bottled oxygen and via the normal routes, uses infrastructure such as helicopters and, of course, also has the necessary small change.

Yesterday, Monday, the 37-year-old Norwegian stood on the 8,091-meter-high summit of Annapurna I. Kristin was accompanied at this summit success by seven Nepalese climbers: Tenjen (Lama) Sherpa, Pasang Nurbu Sherpa, Lakpa Temba Sherpa, Mingma Tenjing Sherpa, Pasang Sherpa, Lakpa Gyaljen Sherpa and Tashi Sherpa. For Harila and Tenjen Sherpa it was the eighth eight-thousander summit within 40 days.

In the next days to Manaslu

Manaslu in the first dailight
Manaslu (in 2007)

On Monday last week they had also scaled the 8,167-meter-high Dhaulagiri, there accompanied by Lakpa Dorchi Sherpa and Nima Wangdak Sherpa. Previously, Kristin and Tenjen – with changing team composition and number of members – had “ticked off” Shishapangma (26 April) and Cho Oyu (3 May) in Tibet and then in Nepal Makalu (13 May), Kangchenjunga (18 May), Mount Everest and Lhotse (both on 23 May). She now wants to do the same on the 8,163-meter-high Manaslu in a few days.

At the moment, her project is going like clockwork. And Harila is cautiously optimistic that she and her team will be able to climb all 14 eight-thousanders in half the originally envisaged time of six months. “I believe we can do it, if we do Manaslu now and the five (eight-thousanders) in Pakistan, we can do in three months,” Kristin said after returning to Kathmandu from Annapurna. In 2019, Nepalese Nirmal Purja had submitted a total time of six months and six days for the same project in the same style.

Self-formulated role model

The former cross-country skier sees herself as a role model for female climbers. “I hope that the project will inspire and make it easier for girls after me,” Harila told the AFP news agency. “To see that we can actually go and break records and that we can get sponsorships and that we can earn money on this.”

Last year, the Norwegian had already summited 12 of the 14 eight-thousanders in a rush – in the same style, but with a different Nepalese expedition operator. Then the Chinese-Tibetan authorities had put a spoke in her wheel. They had made no exception for Harila. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the eight-thousanders Mount Everest, Cho Oyu and Shishapangma, which are located partly or entirely in Tibet, had been closed to foreign climbers for three years. This spring, Harila and Co. was the first expedition team to be allowed back into Tibet and receive eight-thousander permits.

Update 10 June: According to Chhang Dawa Sherpa from Seven Summit Treks, Kristin also summited Manaslu today, accompanied by six Nepalese: Tenjen Sherpa, Pasang Nurbu Sherpa, Chhangba Sherpa, Kaji Sherpa, Nima Dorchi Sherpa and Sonam Tashi Sherpa.

P.S. You may have wondered why I haven’t written anything about the 70th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest or the end of the season on the highest mountain on earth. The reason: I first had to emotionally process the death of Luis Stitzinger.

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