Climbing Everest With A Daypack

'Skyrunner' Christian Stangl breaks ascent records by climbing with, well, almost nothing

Christian Stangl after 'skyrunning' to the top of Everest.

I'm used to climbing 8,000-meter peaks with naught but sandals and a Snickers bar, but I do that for fun, not records. Austrian Mountaineer Christian Stangl is different: He sets speed records on crazy peaks by traveling ultra-ultra light. That means no oxygen, no partners, and practically no gear.

He calls his technique 'skyrunning,' which sounds a bit over the top, but it's worked so far: He climbed Aconcagua in a mind-blowing four hours, and he tackled Everest in a record-setting 17.

Carrying just a ski pole and a small backpack filled with carbohydrate gels, salted cookies and rosehip tea, Stangl summited the tallest mountain of them all, Everest, in under 17 hours, a new speed record.

Stangl's climbing ethos has been described as pure mountaineering, but he calls it skyrunning. With hardly any equipment, no supplementary oxygen and no company, his approach is to insure against the grave dangers of high-altitude climbing by traveling light and getting up and back down the mountain before the weather deteriorates or his body begins to struggle from oxygen starvation.

Stangl conquered all Seven Summits in just 58 hours total climbing time, and now he's setting his sights on a record speed climb of K2. He was thwarted last year by the massive serac fall that killed 11 climbers. Mind you, K2 has already killed an Italian skier.

He also espouses the environmental benefits of 'skyrunning': With such speedy ascents, he has no need for the series of advanced camps that often sully the mountainside with waste, trash, and leftover climbing gear.

Good luck, Christian—here's to not dying this year. I would help you with some pointers, but when I mentioned my skillz before, I should've been more honest. Replace "8,000-meter peaks" with "trip to the fridge," and you'll be a lot closer to the mark. I can definitely help you with that.

—Ted Alvarez

Christian Stangl, The Skyrunner (First Post)