New chapter: WAY TO 8000

I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next

Steve Jobs

When I left home in 2004 to start the first solo crossing of Carpathian Mountains, I had no idea that long-distance expeditions would define my life. That there would come a time, when I could be able to turn this passion into a job.

Taking my first steps on mountain trails and ridges, I could only hope that the dots along which I walk would lead me to something fascinating. My expeditions became such a thing. The Greenland ice sheet that a few of Poles walked across. The vast deserts I have crossed. The highest peaks in Europe, South America and Central Asia. Places I dreamt of 10-20 years ago have become a reality.

It is time to take a new step on this journey.

Several people have asked me if I am leaving long distance expeditions in favour of high mountains. No. I will continue exploring the world from the perspective of long trails. However, there is something I have been aiming for over the past years. Patiently gaining experience on high peaks has been the preparation for it. Today I officially start a new chapter of my mountain adventure. It is to climb a peak above 8,000 metres next year.

Projekt droga do 8000 ośmiotysiecznik wyprawa
Masyw Broad Peak, foto (CC): Mark Horrel

Why an eight-thousander?

For me, travelling among people is a search for understanding. High mountains – it’s more a search for freedom and beauty, a challenge and an encounter with nature, which – at that altitude – is harsh as nowhere else in the world. Perhaps right was Neil Armstrong in the movie “First Man”, saying that space “allows us to see things we should have seen long ago”. These words are true also in case of the world’s highest peaks. Or perhaps we climb them simply because it is in our nature to take on challenges?

An idea I’ve been carrying around for years, recently turned into a plan and now I want to realise it.

Which summit will be the goal? I will make a final decision in the autumn. However, it will probably be Gasherbrum II, Broad Peak or Manaslu.

I am planning the expedition with no supplementary oxygen and without the help of a guide.

Climbing 8,000 is a risk, but I try to minimise it. Over the past years, I have been building a pyramid with dozens of ascents above 4, 5 and 6 thousand metres. More recently, 2 seven-thousanders (Peak Lenin and Khan Tengri) and one ‘almost’ 7000 m (Aconcagua). My plan is to make one more such ascent on Baruntse (7129m) in October. This Nepalese peak will be an intermediate goal and a test before going almost 1,000 metres higher. I want to check myself during this milestone and see if I feel OK on 7 kilometres. If my body won’t send any worrying signals, I will consider myself ready. But Baruntse is only an intermediate point. Beyond it, I have a whole year of professional training, mental preparation and planning.

Projekt droga do 8000 ośmiotysiecznik wyprawa
Grań Gasherbrum II, foto (CC): Mark Horrel

Why “Road to 8000”?

Even if I will not stand on the summit, the road to it will be the value itself. Lessons learnt in the process of training will be my most important lessons of recent years. The whole process is important, the goal is just a signpost. The experience of the process will be valuable even without the spectacular finale at the top.

The things I will learn along the way I would like to share.

For many of my readers, the question “how?” is important. How do you train, what food do you take, what equipment do you use, how do you plan the route, what was your plan “B”, how do you motivate yourself, how do you look for sponsors? I want this project to also become your experience and build also your knowledge. The things I will learn from preparing for the 8,000 can in many cases be applied to your trails or summits.

Over the next year you will read here not only about the places I visit. I will be describing my experiences and steps on my way to the summit. I want them to be an inspiration for your mountain projects.

Baza pod masywami Gasherbrumów, foto (CC): Mark Horrel

This project would not have happened without the support of my partners. Forma na Szczyt has changed my approach to training and nutrition on expeditions. The coming year will see intensive cooperation with them. The support of, Deutera i Cumulusa provides me not only with equipment for expeditions, but also with a base for running, skiing and my mountain workshops. I will work to increase the list of these partners. I already invite those of you, who see value in this project, to join me.

Buckle up and see you. It’s going to be an exciting year 🙂

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