Ecuadorian mountain climbers Karl Egloff and Nicolás Miranda have set a new record for ascending the Himalayan peak of Makalu without supplemental oxygen. The pair accomplished the feat May 8 and 9 in a time of 17 hours and 18 minutes.
Makalu, located on the border between Napal and China, is the world’s fifth highest mountain at 8,463 meters (27,766 feet). The new record was verified by the mountaineering magazine and website Desnivel.
Egloff said the ascent was made more difficult by strong winds. “As we went up, the wind increased,” he said. “On several occasions we were forced to stop to keep our balance and to protect our faces.”
Going down Makalu proved to be just as much of a challenge as going up, Egloff told Desnivel. “We were exhausted from the ascent, reaching the limit of our endurance, so descending proved to be almost as big of a task. We had to sit down to rest every three or four steps.”
Setting mountain climbing records is a specialty for Egloff and Miranda, ages 41 and 44. In 2014, Egloff broke the existing record from climbing 5,895-meter Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in six hours and 42 minutes. The pair also hold records for the ascents of Aconcagua in Argentina in 2015, and Elbrús, in Russia in 2017.
Miranda has conducted studies on the limits of human endurance in mountain climbing and other physical challenges and has made a number of ascents of Aconcagua. Among his heroes, he says, is Edward Whymper, the British mountain climber and artist who did early research of climbing endurance in Ecuador, which he recorded in his 1892 book Travels Amongst the Great Andes of the Equator.