Atanas Skatov has returned for a couple of weeks to Bulgaria. He comes from the Himalayas where in the course of 78 days he took part in 3 expeditions to the peaks of Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Makalu, all over 8,000 m high, managing to climb up two of them. The entire adventure is part of the man’s project for speed climbing of the 14 highest peaks on this planet, exceeding 8,000m in height, yet without any consumption of animal origin food. The goal of the experiment is to show that the power of human spirit and the abilities of a man’s body do cross over in a significant manner the border, set by us, humans. Skatov has been involved in mountaineering since 2010 and in alpinism – since 2012, when the first of his vegan projects kicked off. Those have been developed simultaneously – he wants to climb the top peaks of the 7 continents. We can now be proud with a Bulgarian vegan who has looked at the world from the highest peaks of 6 continents – Africa, Europe, South America, Asia, Australia and Oceania and the Antarctic one.
Nasko became a vegan four and a half years ago, looking for the optimal balance between eating and environmentalism. Here is what he says on the way he eats: “It is a bit extreme, but I find it important to check on how it affects the body. It is tough to find vegan food of good quality and on an expedition it is even harder.” That is why the man carries special food in his backpack during each journey – lyophilized foods, nuts, hemp seed, vegetable proteins – rice and peas, vitamins and minerals. Upon each return he goes through full blood and functional tests that have shown nothing else, but a perfectly functioning body so far.
Annapurna was the first peak that Skatov conquered over the past months, perhaps the toughest one due to very bad weather and sheer rocky walls:
“The expedition lasted much longer than we had presumed. The first attack was on April 15, but only 4 of us continued to some 7,900 m, where the bad weather forced us to get back to the base camp. Then we waited for good weather for another couple of weeks and on May 1 we managed to climb the Annapurna. It was tough, very tough, with lots of avalanches and cracks along the way…”
Luckily, this time Annapurna took no victims. A Korean guy flying from 10 m high into one of those cracks was the only incident but he only got his foot sprained. Dhaulagiri was next on the list:
“Our mistake there was the late departure in the evening – we started at midnight instead of 7 PM. At noon we had reached up to 7,900 m, some 250 m below the peak. The weather turned bad with stormy wind and no matter the regret, I retreated. The others had already done it. I had my doubts on whether to continue on my own, but the risk was too high with that terrain and the weather conditions…”
After all, the third peak in this group, Makalu, turned out to be more hospitable. On May 23 Skatov and experienced alpinist Boyan Petrov /who has diabetes/, stepped both on the 5th highest peak on the Earth – Makalu, 8,481 m. On his way Skatov had the chance to meet a real attraction: Spanish carpenter Carlos Soria, who began climbing at the age of 60. Now, 77 years old, the man has 13 peaks of over 8,000 m on his record. “The man says that if there is the will, there is a way and impossible is nothing,” Nasko says. He adds that the preparation for each expedition includes everyday trainings and different sports activities – mountain climbing with a heavy backpack, riding a bike, swimming, running and yoga.
After two weeks of rest in Bulgaria, Skatov is to set off again, this time to Islamabad, Pakistan, where he will aim at Gasherbrum 1 and 2
English version: Zhivko Stanchev Photos: courtesy of Atanas Skatov