He's Trying to Do the Unthinkable on Everest

Jost Kobusch is climbing it alone, in winter, without supplemental oxygen
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2022 3:20 PM CST
He's Trying to Do the Unthinkable on Everest
   (Getty Images)

"I think his chances are 50-50." That would be, 50% chance of doing something no one on the planet has done before, and 50% chance of not achieving it—or even dying. Jost Kobusch is on Mount Everest right now. Alone. There, he is attempting to be the first person to climb Everest solo in winter without supplemental oxygen. The 29-year-old German tried to do it two years ago, making it to 24,167 feet—still 4,864 feet from the summit. The New York Times presents numbers that show just how insanely challenging Kobusch's quest is. For starts there's the temperature, which can bottom out at negative 80 degrees Fahrenheit at the summit in meteorological winter (which starts Dec. 1). The winds there can whip at 200 miles per hour.

A two-man Polish team was the first to make it to the summit in winter and did so in 1980. (One of the men, Krzysztof Wielicki, is the one who gave Kobusch the 50-50 shot.) Only 13 other people have managed the feat since, and none solo; only one didn't use supplemental oxygen. If you're sufficiently impressed and intimidated on Kobusch's behalf, there's more: He's trying to summit via the West Ridge, which isn't one of the two paths about 98% of climbers take. The Times explains that just north of 26,000 feet he'll come to the Hornbein Couloir, "a steep and narrow 1,600-foot tongue of snow splitting the rocky north face of the mountain." It's only been successfully climbed six times. Outside Magazine points out that Kobusch has stated that it's unlikely he'll make it all the way to the summit, but is aiming to at least make it to the Hornbein Couloir. (Read the full Times story for more, or track him live here.)

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