Red Bull X-Alps

Red Bull X-Alps athlete flies to 8155m without supplementary oxygen

French adventurer and two-time Red Bull X-Alps athlete Antoine Girard reached 8155m on a flight above Broad Peak in the Himalaya, breaking the world record.

© Antoine Girard

When Antoine Girard took off from 4700m in the Karakorum Range on July 23, his only intention was to fly above Broad Peak (8051m), which he has summited as a mountaineer twice before.

He wanted to see where he had climbed and camped from a bird’s eye view, and that’s exactly what he got. The 06h30m flight was a dream come true.

Click here to see a 3D animation of Girard's incredible flight!

After reaching Broad Peak, he flew up, and around the 12th highest mountain in the world, riding thermals for two hours, gradually ascending. All was going well, except for one thing.

“I made a big mistake in the morning; I didn’t create a good connection to the supplementary oxygen pipe,” Girard says. “When I opened the bottle it didn’t work. I had no oxygen.

“But I checked my body and felt good, so I continued to go higher. I went slowly, checking all the time that everything was okay.”

He went from thermal to thermal, ascending about 200m on each, eventually soaring above 8000m where he stayed for 10 minutes. 

“It was beautiful and impressive,” Girard says. “I have climbed Broad Peak twice and the close by K2 once. I could see where I climbed and camped, and many mountaineers climbing between camp two and camp three. They saw me and I waved to them.”

After 10 minutes, however, Girard aborted the flight because his fingers were freezing, with one particularly bad. He landed soon after, and cancelled the expedition and returned to France the following day due to the damage he had sustained.

“I didn’t have sensation. One finger was like wood. It’s not my first time – my foot once froze while I was mountaineering.”

All in all it was the flight of a lifetime, and he learned a lot from it.

“I learned many things, especially about the conditions of thermals,” he says. “Before this flight, I thought it wasn’t possible to ride thermals this high, and that we could only get there with wind. But I saw it’s not possible with wind, because it’s too strong. We can only reach it with thermals.”