Skip to main content

Meet Andrzej Bargiel, the One Man to Ski Down After Summiting K2

At the time of this writing, about 5,000 people have reached the summit of Mount Everest, earth’s lofty 29,029 foot crown. About 1,500 miles northwest of Everest looms the world’s second tallest peak, K2, a lofty 28,251 feet in height itself, and a summit stood atop by a mere 376 people at the time of this writing.

Red Bull Impossible Descent

Once the impossible summit, Everest is today thought of by many as a rich tourist’s playground. K2 on the other hand is a climber’s mountain. And just once, a skier’s.

Andrzej Bargiel grew up in a small town in Poland and from a young age was called to the mountains. Despite the fact he has completed numerous notable ascents, asked what he considers himself first and foremost, Bargiel replied: “A skier first and foremost; this is what I started doing in the mountains and it’s still my greatest passion.”

Most people climb mountains to climb mountains, especially the peak many consider the world’s most challenging. But this guy? He climbed K2 to ski. Little wonder, as mountains have always been in his blood.

Red Bull Impossible Descent

“I grew up in much lower mountains,” Bargiel said through an interpreter. “My parents had a small farm, so I always helped out there and we were all always very active, the family. In winter we were always skiing, and it was very primitive. We would carry the skis up the hill on our backs, come down. I loved it, it’s where my passion started.

“Later on, when I was about 12, my brother, an older brother, he worked in mountain rescue, and he took me to the Tatra Mountains here in Poland, and I just loved it. I started skiing there, I started to take training and mountaineering very seriously. When I was younger I was always competing as a skier, but those far, high mountain expeditions did become a dream of mine. I was looking for something to use my potential, my endurance, and all the physical preparation from years of skiing.

“At the beginning of my more serious climbing, it was all adventure, all for the experience and the excitement. But the more I [climbed high mountains] the more it started to become a real career for me. If you really love doing something, you might just turn it into a dream job, and I just kept doing it.

Red Bull Impossible Descent

By 2010, other professional climbers were taking notice of Andrej. He was setting records with speed climbs to numerous summits, shaving as much as a half hour of previous best known times. His fitness and “never stop” attitude were the perfect formula, and he himself started to realize “that this is something I can do really, really well — this is something I need to develop.”

He began to make closer connection within the Polish mountaineering community, including those who were focused on Himalayan expeditions. He did indeed take part in several major South Asian climbs, but soon decided: “This is not for me, not just climbing.”


“Because I wanted to ski. I wanted to ski down those mountains,” Andrej explained. “I decided I needed to find my own path forward; my own way of mountaineering.”

Red Bull Impossible Descent

You can see where this is going.

Flash forward a few years to July 2018, and Andrej Bargiel and a small support team of Polish climbers, including his own brother Bartek, are ready to make their way up the world’s second tallest peak so Bargiel can attempt a world’s first: Skiing all the way down from the perilous summit of K2.

Fittingly sponsored by Red Bull — the production company behind the documentary The Impossible Descent that gives an up-close and personal view of the entire expedition — Bargiel and his team left Base Camp on July 19, 2018, already at about 16,400 feet of altitude. By midday on the 19th, Bargiel has completed the next section of climb alone, leaving part of the team below and linking up with fellow Polish mountaineer Janusz Gołąb, who was to climb the next few thousand feet with Bargiel. But when Gołąb was stricken with crippling back pain, instead Andrej delayed forward progress for more than 36 hours while caring for his friend, including receiving medicine delivered via a drone operated by his brother below. (The same drone would later help find an English climber thought dead by his team and help lead to his rescue.)

With his teammate stable, Bargiel finally set out for Camp 4, at a staggering 26,245 feet, alone. And without supplemental oxygen, by the way. At this desolate outpost, he rested, hydrated, ate, and then, the next day, July 22, Bargiel pushed for and made the summit of K2. He would linger atop the mountain for about a half hour, then get on with the most arduous part of the journey. He strapped on his skis, then prepared to fulfill his greatest goal to date, making history in the process.

Red Bull Impossible Descent

With the simple words: “I’m going down” spoken into his radio, Andrej Bargiel began the ski descent down K2.

Spoiler alert, but considering he granted this interview, you can probably guess everything went fine, despite some white-out conditions, flying ice chunks, crevasses dodged and whatnot. But these are all things better experienced through the eyes of those who were along for the climb and for the ride back down, so let’s leave it to The Impossible Descent to tell the rest of the story.

Steven John
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Steven John is a writer and journalist living just outside New York City, by way of 12 years in Los Angeles, by way of…
We’ve tested ’em all: These are the best portable solar generators of 2023
Our expert recommends the best solar generators of 2023
Jackery 3000 Pro.

The time was when consumer-grade solar gear wasn’t all that practical, but over the past few years the tech has developed rapidly, becoming not only highly useful but increasingly affordable. Today, solar generators and portable power stations are go-to mobile juice solutions for van-lifers and campers, temporary off-grid worksites, travel photographers and drone operators, and at-home backup power for when the lights go out.

I’ve spent years testing solar-powered generators, and over the past six months, I’ve looked at the latest releases from both top, established brands and lesser-known newcomers. When I’ve come to learn is that while solar generators don’t vary dramatically in regards to the core concept, different models from different brands tend to be tailor-fit to different intentions. To that end, here are the best solar generator options for a variety of purposes.
Best overall: Jackery 3000 Pro
Pictured at the top of this article, Jackery has been a top name in the solar generator field for a while now, and with their latest release – the 3000 Pro – they do pretty much everything right. It manages to deliver both outstanding capacity (3,024 Wh) and outstanding portability. At just shy of 64 pounds, it’s not exactly light, but the wheels and retractable handle make it effortless to cart around, while its integrated handles and perfectly boxed shape make it easy to lift and store (or fit into a van build). It charges fast (2.4 hours via wall outlet or 3-4 hours via ideal solar conditions), has solid wattage output (3,000 W), and is sturdily built. While it’s arguably a bit overkill for the average users, anyone who wants lots of capacity will love the 3000 Pro.

Read more
This inflatable hot tub is under $400 at Amazon right now
A group of people sit in a SaluSpa hot tub.

Now is the perfect time to check out the best inflatable hot tub deals with $159 off the Bestway Miami SaluSpa 2 to 4 person inflatable hot tub at Amazon. Normally priced at $530, it's down to $371 for a limited time only. If you're keen to enjoy the outdoors even more than usual, this is a great way to gain a hot tub as and when you want it. Check out all we know about it below or hit the buy button to get straight to purchasing it.

Why you should buy the Bestway Miami SaluSpa
Promising the ultimate spa experience, the Bestway Miami SaluSpa offers up to 120 bubble jets that are keen to help soak sore muscles any time you need a treat. It's possible to operate from inside the hot tub thanks to a digital control panel that means you can change the water temperature up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, along with the flow of the jets, all without ever leaving the comfort of the tub. It even has a power-saving timer so you can automate the temperature up to 72 hours in advance so it's ready when you want it to be.

Read more
Here’s what you should be doing with your old outdoor gear
These schemes will give your outdoor gear a new lease of life, and they give you something back too
Young man hiking through the mountains.

Your outdoor gear gets put through a lot. No matter how well designed and manufactured, even top-end outdoor gear eventually reaches the end of its life, even with proper care and storage. Sure, there are steps you can take to keep your gear alive beyond this — many companies now offer repair programs, even for other brands, or you can always wear your gear for shorter adventures or pottering about at home — but eventually, it's time to say goodbye. But just because your gear has outlived your needs doesn't mean that it had to end up in the landfill.

Recycling outdoor gear can be challenging, with many garments requiring all kinds of chemicals to make them water-repellent and durable. This reason alone gives us a responsibility as outdoorsmen to do all we can not to get pulled into outdoor-fast-fashion, but to buy gear we need from quality companies who make reliable products. It also gives us a responsibility to properly dispose of our used outdoor gear when the time comes. Fortunately, there are more and more programs to step in and deal with your gear, either by repairing it and giving it a new home or finding appropriate ways to recycle it, and these are some of the best around.

Read more