It’s the sixth-tallest mountain in the world, straddling the borders of China and Nepal, and Ballinger is waiting to race to its peak with his girlfriend and climbing partner, Emily Harrington.Ballinger is a certified AMGA/IFMGA mountain guide, Eddie Bauer guide, the first American to have completed two ski descents of 8,000-meter peaks, and six-time Everest summiter best known for Snapchatting his summit attempt with no oxygen this year.He zooms towards the peak of Cho Oyu in the distance.Blustering winds knock the snow off the summit so violently that it blends in with the clouds beside it.Instead of another over-two-month Himalayan saga, we tried to distill the climb down to less than two weeks using all of our athletic ability, logistical expertise, and modern technology, like pre-acclimatization tents and detailed weather models.We’ve been laughing and playing throughout this climb thus far. EH: Basically Himalayan peaks have been climbed in the same fashion since the first successful ascents that took place in the ’50s.This speed-climb is a feat the couple has been preparing for for six weeks—the latest challenge for a duo who have climbed a particularly challenging route called Golden Gate on Yosemite’s El Capitan together and attempted to climb Makalu together in September 2015, but were turned back due to deep snow.
It’s also actually pretty terrible for your health, and you return home weak and “skinny-fat” since the altitude eats all of your muscle and leaves the fat for warmth and protection.What was your first reaction when you summited Cho Oyu together? AB: Take away the fact that we did it in nine days, it was just so cathartic to stand on top together and know it all went perfectly. It’s hard to even explain how difficult it is to ski down. We have different skills and strengths and so we can learn a lot from one another.EH: It was pretty amazing because usually on the peak it’s cold and windy and kind of harsh but when we got there it was super sunny with zero wind. Adrian’s the most organized and logistically talented person I've ever met.Here: a collotype plate showing an ascent of the eastern face of Tryfaen from Ashley & George Abraham's Rock-Climbing in Wales book, 1906.“You could see why no one is summiting today,” Adrian Ballinger says on his Snapchat account Everest No Filter.