Dominik Salcher - Speed Mountaineering
Winning the worlds toughest mountain speed race
On August 5th2019, 14 athletes faced the incredible challenge to compete in the highest sky race in the world. The goal was to conquer Pik Lenin in Kyrgyzstan with an altitude of 7,134m in the speed ascent.
For the first 2.5 kilometers from the ABC (advanced base camp) to 4400m altitude we walked on a shallow glacier, partly over loose rock moraines, swamps and half-frozen glacier streams. After that the long rise with more than 2.700m altitude began. The dangerous ascent began on the extremely cleaved glacier, which was only partially insured with fixed ropes and leathers. In the total darkness we had to prove excellent sense of direction in this area.
Camp 2 at 5400m was supposed to be the first checkpoint of the race. Not even close. Unfortunately, no one was awake yet, so I wasted about five minutes waiting for someone to make the note of the time. From camp 2 we went in brisk steps to an altitude of 6100m to camp 3. The time from the start all the way to camp 3 was about 2.5 hours. The enjoyment of a beautiful sunrise and the pleasant temperatures for this altitude unfortunately didn’t last long: In the area between 6100m and 6400m I got hit by an ice cold side wind (about 50km/h). Especially at this time, the heated products from Lenz were of vital importance to me. Thanks to the heat socks 5.0 toe cap® I can afford to wear some "lighter" footwear. In such extreme conditions, the reduced weight can bring a tremendous advantage. Cold fingers were never a problem for me, as I also wore the heat gloves 4.0 mittens.
The harsh weather conditions had already forced some mountaineers to turn back in the early morning hours. From that point on, the slope was objectively moderate, but with the altitude increasing, the climb became harder and harder with every step I came closer to the summit. I was unbelievably exhausted but also very happy to be the first to reach the summit of the Pik Lenin at 7134m after 5 hours and 10 minutes
Even in such extreme races, safety always comes first. Especially at those temperatures frostbites can occur quickly - then the race is over. With the Lenz Body Heat System, I never had a problem with temperature throughout the race. I reached the summit without hypothermia or frostbites.