Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner has become the first woman to ascend all fourteen mountains over 8,000 meters without using supplemental oxygen. She and the rest of the team are currently descending to Camp 1.
Kaltenbrunner reached the summit of K2 (8611m) on Tuesday, August 23, via the north ridge with Vassily Pivtsov, Maxut Zumayev and Darek Zaluski. Tuesday’s summit was the fourteenth oxygenless 8000m ascent for Kaltenbrunner, Pitsov and Zumayev. Including these three, twenty-six people have done all 8000 meter peaks, of whom only Rheinhold Messner, Erhard Loretan, Juanito Oiarzabal, Alberto Inurrategi, Ed Viesturs, Silvio Mondinelli, Ivan Vallejo, Denis Urubko, Veikka Gustafsson, Joao Garcia, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, Maxut Zhumayev and Vassily Pivtsov have reached the summits without using bottled oxygen. (Note: The claims of four other individuals are currently disputed.)
The Austrian Kaltenbrunner climbed above 8000m for the first time at age twenty-three when, in 1994, she climbed the sub summit of Broad Peak (8027m). She climbed five more 8,000ers while working as a nurse before turning professional in 2003. Kaltenbrunner’s climbs have not been without mishap. In 2007 two of her partners were killed in an avalanche that struck their camp and last year her partner Fredrik Ericsson was killed while attempting the Bottleneck of K2’s Abruzzi Spur.
Maxut Zhumayev , born 1/1/1977 hails from Kazakhstan and is an experienced mountaineer. In 2010 Zhumayev was one of the first climbers to raise doubts about Christian Stangl’s summit of K2. Zhumayev’s doubts that were verified when Stangl admitted he never actually reached the top. This was the sixth year that Zhumayev attempted K2. For Vassily Pivtsov, also of Kazakhstan, this last expedition was his seventh attempt on K2. His first was in 2003 as a member of a Polish winter expedition.
Darek Zaluski, from Poland, is an experienced mountaineer and filmmaker.