Mountaineer Attempting to Become First-Ever to Scale Everest Alone in Winter

by Victoria Santiago

Jost Kobusch, a German climber, is attempting to be the first person to climb Mount Everest all by himself. On top of that, he’s climbing with no supplemental oxygen. On a good day, that would be a feat all by itself, not to mention doing it in the dead of winter. During this time of year, almost no one will dare try to scale Everest. If he succeeds in climbing the 29032-foot tall mountain, it will be monumental.

Kobusch has been able to complete WhatsApp calls from Nepal, in which he describes his solitary journey. “You have to picture this: There’s only one tent in the base camp,” he said during a call. The tent in question belongs to him, of course. Undoubtedly, the weather has been hard on his body, lungs especially. He coughs often during his talks. The temperature can drop down to minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit during this time of year.

Kobusch Aims to Make His Everest Climb Memorable (And Unfortunately Dangerous)

More and more people have been attempting to climb Mount Everest. Since 1953, more than 6,000 people have been able to reach the summit of the dangerous mountain. If the allure of climbing the mountain isn’t enough, some people are aiming to add “first” in front of their climbing expedition. Kobusch is one of those people, clearly.

He’s pulling out all of the stops, too. If he succeeds, he will be the first person to climb the mountain alone in the winter with no oxygen. On top of that, he’s taking a dangerous path to the summit. Instead of taking the route that 98% of climbers take, Kobusch is taking a path called West Ridge. His path will take him a way that only a few people have ever gone (not to mention survived). On his climb up Everest, he will have to overcome steep walls of blue ice and gullies of rock and snow.

“Doing a route that hasn’t been done before in winter is another way to do something for the first time,” said Billi Bierling, managing director of the Himalayan Database. “What Jost is doing, it’s very technically challenging, and he’s doing it completely alone. If he makes it up, he will be standing on the same summit that everyone stands on. But the way he gets there – you can’t actually compare it, it’s so different.”

To Climb the Mountain Is to Learn ‘the Art of Suffering’

Without a doubt, trying to scale Mount Everest in any condition can be miserable. Those who climb to the summit are looking for something cathartic, and many get it. The way up is hard, though. According to one of the handfuls of people to ever reach the top during winter, “You have to be able to suffer. It’s the art of suffering.”

Jost Kobusch is no stranger to the suffering that comes with climbing mountains. In fact, this isn’t even his first time attempting to scale Everest during the winter. The mountain climber had been looking for an experience that is truly solitary and remote, and he found that in Everest. In the words of the ambitious climber, “I was looking for true wilderness.”