This spring, Sergi Mingote will start the second half of his ambitious project: Within 1000 days, the 38-year-old Spaniard wants to climb all 14 eight-thousanders – without bottled oxygen. Sergi needed 444 days to scale the first seven eight-thousanders without breathing mask. In 2018, the Catalan summited Broad Peak, K2 and Manaslu, in 2019 Lhotse, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum II and Dhaulagiri.
In mid-February, Mingote will leave for Chile to pre-acclimatize in the Andes. On 27 March, he will then head for Nepal, where Sergi wants to tackle the next two eight-thousanders. The Spaniard Carlos Garranzo and the Italian Matteo Conte will be his climbing partners. Garranzo accompanied Mingote already on Lhotse, Conte on Gasherbrum II and Dhaulagiri.
At the end of Sergi’s project, Mount Everest is scheduled for May 2021. Mingote has already scaled the highest mountain on earth twice, both times with breathing mask: in 2001 via the Tibetan north side of the mountain, in 2003 via the Nepalese south side.
This spring you want to climb the 8,091-meter-high Annapurna and the 8,485-meter-high Makalu without bottled oxygen, then Gasherbrum I in summer, Cho Oyu and Shishapangma in fall. How are you preparing for this mammoth program?
The truth is, I have so many lectures that I’m not putting in as many training hours as I’d like. My coaches at the „Centro de Alto Rendimiento de Sant Cugat“ (a sports training center near Barcelona) are a great help. Basically I train strength and endurance with climbing, skiing, cycling and running.
It took you 444 days to scale the first seven eight-thousanders, so you are currently on schedule. Which causes you more headaches, the logistical or the mountaineering problems?
It’s a very ambitious project. Going that fast always creates additional stress. Everything has to line up and the recovery has to be very fast. The logistics are not easy either, and not using bottled oxygen makes everything much more complicated.
The fastest period so far in which a climber has scaled all eight-thousanders is held by the South Korean climber Kim Chang-ho, who did it in seven years, ten months and six days. You want to make it in 1000 days – why do you put yourself under pressure with this tight deadline?
The 1000 days is not the most important thing. I’m not worried about the pressure, since I don’t feel obligated to anyone. My sponsors are very respectful and what they want most is that I don’t get injured on any mountain. This is a solidarity and inclusive project that goes far beyond the summits. If I could make it in four years it would be also just incredible and I would be tremendously happy!
Nirmal Purja’s “Project Possible” (all 8000ers – with bottled oxygen – in less than seven months) almost failed because China refused to issue permits for Shishapangma last fall. In the end he received a special permit. How do you want to avoid this possible cliff?
Well, I don’t know yet, but I want to take it one step at a time. Maybe one solution is to try it in spring. A project like mine needs a lot of adaptations and adjustments. That’s a challenge too.
As someone who is en route without bottled oxygen, you have to climb fast, so you can’t afford to get caught in a traffic jam. What will you do to avoid that, especially in spring 2021 on Everest?
I have been able to verify that traffic jams occur on average only two days a year, and the solution is to choose any other of the 363 remaining days. Another possibility that I seriously considered is to repeat the route I used in 2001 during my first Everest ascent, on the northern slope. That would be a fantastic end to the promotion of the Pirineus-Barcelona 2030 winter Olympic bid, for which I am an ambassador.