ISLAMABAD: Hungarian climber Szilárd Suhajda achieved a remarkable feat reaching the top of K2, the world’s second-highest mountain, without an oxygen tank and any assistance from high altitude porters on July 25.
Describing his feeling when he reached on the top of the ‘savage mountain’, Mr Szilard said it was amazing, the sky was clear, I saw everything, especially the view from the ridge was beautiful.
Mr Szilard and David Klein shared details of their experiences and future plans with Pakistani journalists at a news conference at Serena Hotel here on August 3 where the duo shared details of their successful summit of the 8,611 metres peak. The duo has climbed six peaks together without oxygen. This was Mr Szilard’s third attempt on K2 and Davis’s second. Favourable weather contributed to their success this year despite occasional strong winds and extreme temperatures and no-summit year warnings from fellow climbers, reported Dawn newspaper.
“Next time, I hope that we will stand together on the summit of a peak,” Mr Szilard said over the radio to his teammate David Klein from the summit.
Until a day before their feat, it was still unsure whether they had any opportunity to attempt the climb. Out of the 120 climbers (75 international and 45 sherpa in 10 teams) on K2 during this period, the two mountaineers were among the 31 to reach the the summit after five Nepali sherpas and three from Gilgit-Baltistan.
Mr Suhajda set out with his partner to reach the top without an oxygen tank, but David had to turn back because of stomach issues but was supporting Suhajda on radio from the base camp, keeping him alert and focused and guiding him towards their goal.
The duo set out to climb Mount Everest without an oxygen tank two years ago but abandoned their attempt.
The Hungarian climber disproved apprehensions about this year’s climbing season as Nepali climbers reported deep snow close to the peak. Among the others were star climbers like Adrian Ballinger (US) and Carla Perez (Ecuador), who also climbed K2 without an oxygen tank.
The duo were the first Hungarians on Annapurna, Nepal, the world’s most dangerous 8,000 metre mountain.
“And we were the first Hungarians to summit the most difficult peak K2. This year we were lucky. I missed my climbing partner David Klein on the summit,” Mr Szilard said.
After three successful acclimatisation rounds, the two started the attempt to conquer the peak. In the end, .
“David’s decision was extraordinary. He sacrificed his ambitions for the success of the expedition,” Szilard told the reporters.
Covering 34 metres every hour, Szilard took 15 hours to reach the summit from camp four.
“That is what happens above 8,500 metres. Oxygen is only one third of that at base camp. Without bottled oxygen my biggest enemy was sleep. After every five steps I rested my head on my knees to sleep. But I knew that if I slept I would never get off the mountain. David kept me focused. At the summit I stay 30 minutes,” Mr Szilard said.
Mr Szilard said in the last few years he had talked more about Pakistan than his own country. “This is my sixth time in Pakistan and I’m fascinated to be here every time. Climbing is a complex experience. It is not just about the effort we make on the mountain but also about a colourful mix of human experiences, beautiful cultures, flavours, food and people,” he added.
The mountaineer said there were other Hungarian climbers who did not make it. Although Mr David was forced to abandon his summit attempt on K2, this was the greatest accomplishment of his team.
“We would like to inform that we decided to leave the base camp clean, which is an important part of our philosophy. We are guests here and it is not polite to leave rubbish behind. We hope that other expeditions should take an important message from this initiative,” David Klein said, adding that pollution is a big problem in the Karakoram.
“Nonetheless, we climbed alpine style. We were also the only ones on the mountain. During the three acclimatisation trips we had climbed three times the distance to the summit of K2. These were the most exciting moments during this expedition,” Klein told the briefing.
He said: “There was a chance I would recover as I climbed higher. But I made the difficult decision to turn back and not jeopardise the success of the expedition. I’m extremely proud of Szilard for becoming the first Hungarian to summit K2 without O2.”
“I am sure that we will be standing together on 8,000ders in the future since we plan to climb all 14 highest peaks in the world together,” he said.
David Klein has been returning to climb since the late 1990s and feels welcomed every time. “Thank you Pakistan,” David Klein said.
Hungarian Ambassador Istevan Szabo described their success extraordinary, saying “David’s decision to give up his dream for the sake of the success of the expedition is no less extraordinary and deserves the same appreciation as Szilard.
“Hungarian mountaineers are contributing to the improvement of the soft image of Pakistan,” the ambassador added.