Sixty years after the first successful ascent of Pakistan's K2, a window of good weather last weekend created ideal conditions for a potentially record-setting summit day on the world's second-tallest mountain.
Though the number has yet to be confirmed, as many as 30 people may have reached the top (28,250 feet) between July 25 and 27 thanks to low winds and little snowfall. These conditions are unusual for K2, known for its erratic and harsh weather and technical difficulty: Only about 300 people have ever summited K2, compared with some 6,000 people who've summited Everest, 800 miles to the southeast.
On Sunday, three Americans, led by Garrett Madison of Madison Mountaineering, reached the K2 summit along with their Sherpas. "This climb is everything it is made out to be," said expedition member Alan Arnette, who at age 58 became the oldest person to climb the peak. "The traverse at the Bottleneck was one of the scariest things I've ever done in my life. It truly was a 90-degree angle."
Seven women were expected to have summited, among them the first expedition of Nepali women to climb the mountain. Pasang Lhamu, Maya Sherpa, and Dawa Yangzum were climbing to call attention to climate change.
Another expedition became the first-ever group of Pakistanis to reach the top. While individual climbers from Pakistan have summited, this was the country's first successful team attempt.
Perhaps even more impressive is that every climber who summited appears to have made it safely back to base camp. For every four people who reach the K2 summit, one person will die trying, typically during the descent. In both 2009 and 2010, nobody successfully climbed K2.
K2 summit unbelievably hard— Alan Arnette (@alan_arnette) July 27, 2014
This news comes just a few months after a tragic avalanche killed 16 Sherpas on Mount Everest, ultimately ending the mountain's 2014 climbing season.
This post will be updated as more information becomes available.
We have a winner. Vincenzo Nibali might have placed sixth on our list, but the Italian cyclist came in first at the 2014 Tour de France on Sunday.
On the podium, the Sicilian held back tears and held onto his prized stuffed lion as the Italian national anthem played across the Champs-Elysées. “This is something unique. I never imagined it could have happened, but I fought for it day by day,” Nibali said during his podium speech. “As long ago as last winter, with my team we decided this would be the year’s objective, and without my team and my family I would never have achieved it.”
French riders Jean-Christophe Péraud and Thibaut Pinot took second and third place, respectively.
Team Astana rider Nibali, 29, is the first Italian to win the Tour since Marco Pantani in 1998. He led the race for 18 out of the 21 days. Prior to arguably the biggest win of the year, Nibali had claimed victory only in the Italian National Road Championships just prior to La Grande Boucle.
Nibali has been quietly hunting a big-time tour title since placing 19th in his Tour debut at age 22. He has shown steady improvement and has clearly perfected the art of the incisive attack, which he displayed during the Stage 2 battle royale. They call him “the shark” for a reason.
But even sharks share their victory champagne.
On the women's side, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet claimed the top spot for the first time after five years of competing in the games. They now have bragging rights as victors of what CrossFit calls the true test of fitness—this weekend's games marked the final part of the three-stage process that started in early spring and featured challenges the athletes didn't know about until right before the competition.
Froning, who says this year will be the last time he competes as an individual, encountered a few setbacks along the way. He finished 37th in the Triple 3 event, which involves rowing 3,000 meters, followed by 300 double-unders, and a three-mile run. During the run, Froning stopped to walk several times. He said he felt dizzy and had "turned into a wuss." But that didn't last, as he advanced to a five-point lead by the end of the day; he ended the games with a 50-point lead.
Leblanc-Bazinet racked up three top-10 finishes in the first five events. After finishing with a 40-point lead, she tearfully accepted her new title, crediting her success to five years of smarter training. "I attacked more of my weaknesses," she said. "I worked my ass off." Can't argue with that approach.
In the lead-up to this summer's Molokai2Oahu Paddleboard World Championships, Outside predicted that the SUP solo event would be a battle of youth versus experience, a showdown between the sport's new poster boy, Kai Lenny, and tenacious veteran Dave Kalama.
Well, we were wrong. In the end, it was their fellow Hawaiian Connor Baxter who took home the title. His time of 4:08:08 was a course record.
Lenny looked strong early on and surged ahead of his competitors. However, around the 24-mile mark of the 32-mile race, he suddenly felt like he "hit a wall," according to SUPRacer.com. That opened the door for two-time champion Baxter and Australian Travis Grant, who duked it out for miles before Baxter broke free and claimed an unprecented third title.
Dave Kalama finished in a very respectable sixth place, reaching the finish at the Maunalua Bay Beach Park bath house in 4:24:44.
On the women's side, Germany's Sonni Hönscheid claimed the championship title, proving that you don't need to hail from an island to be the best SUPer in the world.