What have you got planned for the summer? Chad Kellogg is on his
way to Pakistan, where he intends to undertake a solo
Alpine-style climb of 28,250-foot K2. For anyone else such an
assault on the second-highest--and arguably most
dangerous--mountain in the world would seem reckless at best. For
the 33-year-old Kellogg, however, it's merely the next step in
what is becoming an extraordinary career.
This is an article from the May 31, 2004 issue
Kellogg first sent a ripple through the mountaineering community
last summer when he won the international speed-climbing
competition on 23,100-foot Khan Tengri on the
Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan border--racing at an elevation that can
cause lung failure. Two days after the race, annoyed that storms
and high winds had forced the race's turnaround point to be
positioned 1,600 feet short of the top, he skipped the trophy
ceremony to touch the summit by himself.
Kellogg's training had been equally impressive. As a final prep
for the Khan Tengri race, he headed out from a landing strip
13,000 feet below the summit of Alaska's 20,320-foot Mount
McKinley and used skis, running shoes strapped to lightweight
crampons, and climbing boots to reach the top in 14 hours, 22
minutes, scorching the old record by four hours. Kellogg was back
at the landing strip in a hair under 24 hours, another record. In
all Kellogg climbed to the summit three times in five days.
"The rules of physical exertion and mental stamina, they're just
different for Chad," says Mike Gauthier, the supervisory climbing
ranger at Mount Rainier National Park. "He might be cold, his
feet might hurt, he might be tired--but he just keeps pushing on,
like a machine."
Kellogg first tried climbing as a 13-year-old in Seattle and
continued to climb during an eight-year detour as a luge racer
(during which time he nearly made the 1992 U.S. Olympic team). He
was later a sponsored snowboarder. By the mid-'90s Kellogg was a
self-described "climbing bum," scaling big walls in Yosemite and
living in a cave. His mountain-goat speed and toughness truly
kicked in when he worked as a climbing ranger on Mount Rainier in
the late '90s. He has climbed that 14,410-foot volcano 69 times
and holds the speed record--just under 5:06 to the summit
register and back, 9,000 feet each way. He eats, drinks and even
urinates on the run.
"I really love to climb the mountains in one continuous effort
from bottom to top," he says. "Speed is always secondary." But
Kellogg also concedes that when he picks a challenge, he doesn't
"He rebuilt an entire house in a month," says his wife, Lara, a
part-time mountaineering guide. "Climbing is the same way.
Everything else is turned off."
Kellogg will warm up for his K2 expedition with a solo climb of
26,400-foot Broad Peak in the Karakoram Range. Then it's across
the valley to K2. After using porters to help transport gear to a
base camp at 16,400 feet, Kellogg plans a solo push for the
summit without supplemental oxygen.
After that? "I'd love," says Kellogg, "to try a one-day
round-trip summit of Everest."