Piotr Krzyzowski: Double ascent of Lhotse and Everest without bottled oxygen

Piotr Krzyzowski
Piotr Krzyzowski

Among the hundreds of Everest summit successes that have been reported in recent days, one stands out: Piotr Krzyzowski from Poland climbed the 8,516-meter-high Lhotse on 21 May without bottled oxygen and without a Sherpa companion.

Instead of returning to base camp, as he had actually planned before the start of the expedition, Krzyzowski climbed from the Lhotse flank to Everest South Col and then on towards the summit at 8,849 meters. On 23 May, Piotr stood on the highest point on earth, barely 48 hours after his summit success on Lhotse. Such a double ascent of these two eight-thousanders without bottled oxygen had previously only been achieved by a handful of mountaineers.

All of Pakistan’s eight-thousanders summited without breathing mask

For the 45-year-old lawyer from Poland, who is also active in mountain rescue in his home country, it was the sixth and seventh eight-thousander success without bottled oxygen. In 2019, Krzyzowski achieved a highly acclaimed winter ascent of the 7010-meter-high Khan Tengri in Kyrgyzstan. In 2021, Piotr scaled his first eight-thousander, Gasherbrum II in Pakistan. In 2022, he followed this up with Broad Peak and K2. In the summer of 2023, he completed his collection of the five Pakistani eight-thousanders with Nanga Parbat and Gasherbrum I.

Piotr Krzyzowski on the summit of Broad Peak
Piotr Krzyzowski on the summit of Broad Peak in 2022

Exotic at Everest base camp

His style made him stand out on the thoroughly commercialized Everest. “I know that there is less and less room in the high mountains for people like me who climb without the support of Sherpas, without the use of bottled oxygen and without the great support of agencies and high porters,” Piotr wrote on Instagram.

The Nepalese south side of Mount Everest
The Nepalese south side of Mount Everest (in 2002)

According to Krzyzowski, he immediately felt uncomfortable in the tent city at the foot of Everest with its VIP tents surrounded by artificial turf: “To make matters worse, on the first evening during dinner, when each participant got to know ‘their Sherpa’, I had to answer the question: ‘Where is mine?’. When I replied that I was climbing alone, I saw astonishment and incomprehension in the eyes of my conversation partners. Madness! How can you be en route alone? It’s Everest after all. That’s why I wanted to get away as quickly as possible, pack my rucksack, get on the wall, in my solitude, climb solo.” Piotr is unlikely to have found his solitude these days on Lhotse and Everest. He will probably have to choose other mountains for that.

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