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Khumbu Express

Apr 7, 2012

Ueli Steck heads back to the Himalaya this month for four weeks of training in the Khumbu and a return to Everest. Ueli’s approach is a little unorthodox.

Most Himalayan climbing is done expedition style. You trek to a base camp, hang out for days or weeks and acclimatize, all the time worrying about the weather and hoping you won’t get sick before your weather window opens and you make your summit push. Ueli’s not interested.

Ueli’s approach weights climbing over waiting. He and Freddie Wilkinson will spend the month of April flashing smaller peaks in the Khumbu region as their bodies adapt to the altitude. The two plan to treat Himalayan peaks like climbers in Jackson or Grindelwald treat the Tetons or the Alps: get up early, climb hard and get down in time to sleep in a warm bed.

Most climbers can’t climb in the Himalaya this way because they move too slowly. There’s simply not enough time to push from base to summit in a day. Ueli and Freddie, who spent last spring honing speed mountaineering skills in the same region, move fast enough to make day climbs in the Himalaya a reality.

"The faster you are, the most you can climb and the faster you will find yourself back at a cozy place drinking a good cup of coffee!" says Steck.