Göran Kropp is most well-known for his beyond epic 1996 adventure when he rode his bike 8,000 miles from Sweden to Nepal, climbed Mt. Everest unsupported and without oxygen, and then biked home with his 170 lbs of gear.
When we first heard about this ultra-ultra endurance athlete, we honestly didn't believe what they said! His name came up again recently; we did a little research to realize it was true. Göran Kropp completely changed our thoughts on what was possible for adventure and will forever live rent-free in our minds. Göran Kropp was a 6'3" 240 lb man nicknamed The Crazy Swede who lived up to this name. He was a Swedish punk rock paratrooper who spent 9 years preparing for his Everest expedition. He climbed such mountains as K2 and used rollerskating for his cardio workouts. His reasoning was that it moves your whole body, arms and legs, which is essential for high-altitude climbing. He also did a little weight-lifting, running, and climbing, of course.
"I wanted to do it my way, in a new way. No one has done it this way before, and it was a great achievement that I looked forward to when I left Sweden."
Göran Kropp wasn't shy of adventure, and on a cold Swedish day in October 1995, he got on his self-modified bike, packed his gear (all 170 lbs of it), and then set off to Kathmandu. He took a mountain bike with some touring bike parts on it. For example, he used slick tires when his tire went out and put on a luggage rack to hold his bags. Also, he put on lights and exchanged a gearshift to make it easier than a mountain bike. The journey to Nepal lasted 4 months and 6 days and took him through Romania, Turkey, Pakistan, and Iran. He decided he could make it with just one pair of underwear in order to save weight but still had a hack-of-a-load to carry. Why? Because this was a completely unsupported ride. He would be taking everything he needed, except for food, all the way to the base of Mt. Everest— 7,693 miles, to be precise. Finding enough food was hard. He was a vegetarian and had to pick his food carefully. He would try and find the best food possible in restaurants and other places along the way. "I ate everything," he said in a letter interview but still lost 22 lbs on his way out. He fixed 132 flat tires, was almost run over (intentionally), hassled by locals, laughed at, chased by dogs, had stones thrown at him, and assaulted with a baseball bat. From there, he left his bike at a hotel and carried his 143 lbs of climbing equipment to Everest Base.
On top of biking to Nepal unsupported, he also wanted to summit Everest solo without oxygen and any assistance from Sherpas to help with his equipment. On the 3rd of May, he was within a couple of hundred meters from the summit when he found himself waist-deep in snow, struggling to go any further. As darkness fell, he thought he might get stuck and didn't want to descend in the dark. There were fixed ropes to help so he could have carried on, but his instincts said no, and he turned around back to basecamp.
While recovering at basecamp, disaster struck. A blizzard came in, killing eight trekkers, known as the 1996 Mount Everest Disaster; it was turned into a bestselling book by Jon Krakauer, "Into Thin Air." Kropp helped the relief crew and supported them in the recovery of the trekkers. This shook him, but a man with this much determination would not be stopped. On the 26th of May 1996, he made his second attempt which took him to the top of Everest without support. Here he had made it to the top of the world. Do you think he must have got on the first flight home for a good rest? He jumped back on his bicycle and cycled the full 7,693 miles back home to Sweden.
His adventures didn't stop there; he later returned to Everest with his girlfriend, Renata Chlumska (an extraordinary adventurer in her own right), who supported him on his first trip and then went on to summit again in 1999. Like his last climb, he accepted no handouts and stuck true to being self-supported. As the years went on, he became more adventurous, and it wasn't just mountains. In 2000, he and fellow Swede Ola Skinnarmo attempted to ski to the North Pole. Unfortunately, they had to abandon due to a frost-bitten thumb.
As the years went on, Kropp began to plan a new adventure. Although not a sailer, he decided to sail from Sweden to the McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, ski to the South Pole and back, and then sail back home. In September of 2002, he took some time to go rock climbing in Washington State. Unfortunately, two safety rigging failures occurred on a 60ft climb, and the accident took his life at the age of 35.
In Göran Kropp's career, every adventure needed great gear. This can sometimes be the difference between success and failure. He knew what he needed to take and made sure it was the best. Buy better, buy less is a value that we believe in here at Fierce Hazel. We would have loved to have been able to meet him seen him use equipment like our Tour de Fierce Ultralight Cycling case or our Ballistic Black All-Conditions Ride Pouch. We've had several rock climbing friends sing its praise. We think it might have made his adventures a wee bit easier for him.
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