The best view comes after the hardest climb believes Kristin Harila. A 36-year-old Norwegian woman, Kristin is determined to summit all 14 peaks above 8000 meters, and she is doing it like it’s been never done before.
Starting with Annapurna on April 28 and then climbing Dhaulagiri before moving onto the world’s third highest peak, Kangchenjunga, Kristin started her season strong. She then bettered her own record for the Everest – Lhotse linkup by taking just over nine hours to complete both on May 22, having previously climbed them in 12 hours. “I did struggle. The weather got worse, but there was no turning back,” says the adventurer with a touch of euphoria.
On May 27, Kristin summited Makalu – her sixth – in just 29 days, beating Nirmal Purja’s 31-day record in 2019. With her ascent of Maklau, she’s still on track to complete all 14 of the 8,000-metre peaks faster than Nims. But she still has eight of the world’s highest to climb. Only about 40 people have ever summited all 14 of the world’s above 8,000-metre peaks, with none coming close to Nirmal Purja’s 2019 expedition. Kristin might just do it yet!
Kristin says that she had a very hard time finding sponsorships, to the point that she had to sell her apartment in order to run the 8k expedition smoothly. Kristin is a role model for many as she is breaking all gender barriers around physical endurance and risk taking.
In conversation with WOW, she shares her experience and talks about her mountai goals. Excerpts from the interview:
When did you decide to do all 14 of the 8,000-meter peaks in the fastest time?
I first came up with the idea of summiting all 14 peaks above 8,000 meters after I completed Everest and Lhotse last year on May 22. Before we reached basecamp, I decided to summit K2. I called my family and told them that I was going for K2 next summer.
For how long have you been preparing?
I have been training for ten months approximately for this project specifically, although I have been training for years otherwise.
How do you fund your expedition?
I currently do have a sponsor that helps me promote and some support that is making all of this possible for me but I also paid for most part of the project myself; in fact, I sold my apartment for this project.
Tell us about your team?
On my 8k expedition I was accompanied by two fellow Sherpa climbers, Pasdawa Sherpa and Dawa Ongju Sherpa. They are one of the strongest Sherpas I have come across and our climb would not have been successful without them.
What has been the most beautiful and challenging moment in your last six summits.
Our journey has been very different from mountain to mountain. Let us take Annapurna for instance, it was technical and dangerous. Whereas Dhaulagiri had a lot of deep snow. During Kanchenjunga summit, I had an upset stomach. It was very windy on Everest, Lhotse, and in Makalu we had a hard time finding the rope.
What keeps you motivated?
I have always been a competitive person and have loved challenges in life, especially the challenges I face when climbing a mountain.
Your message as you attempt to break all records
Everyone should do what they like and follow their dreams. You don’t have to take a big step, just take a step at a time and start climbing.
What would be the hardest climb?
In my opinion all the 8,000 metered peaks can be hard. I have equal respect for all 14 peaks as we all should too because we never know what might happen up there. Be it the weather or whatever else. Honestly, it is hard to choose one because each one of the climbs can be hard in their own way.
Are you also planning to film or document your journey?
Yes, certainly we are planning on filming a documentary soon. We have a production team which will join us for our journeys, and I am looking forward to it.
You have become a role model for new generation women climbers. What do you see as the future for the climbing community?
As I have observed the climbing community is a very biased industry and I hope to see more equality taking place in the future. I hope it will get easier for women to get sponsorships because when I see women climbing, I see a lot of potential in them. We women are equally capable as men are to reach the summit, so it is very important to support women in this field.