Denmark’s Himmelbjerget (Sky Mountain) is no proxy practice ground for Everest summiteers. This landmark, which was considered the country’s highest place until 1847, reaches only 482 feet above sea level. But two Danes nonetheless found a way to train at home – on hills, streets and beaches, and in forests and gyms – for one of the most difficult milestones in the climbing world: to summit Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen. Rasmus Kragh and Jakob Urth both aim to be the first Dane to achieve this feat, although 17 compatriots using oxygen have reached the top since 1995. Kragh’s first own-puff attempt last year was foiled by a storm. Now in Nepal, the two men are acclimating and training intensely. The window for summiting opens widest around the middle of May, when the fierce winds briefly slacken. The most common summit day has been May 19.
Himmelbjerget is 60 times shorter than the world’s tallest peak. Whatever mountains once stood in Denmark were scoured and crushed by massive Ice Age glaciers, leaving it the fourth flattest country in the world.
Located in near Silkeborg in central Jutland, Himmelbjerget was long revered as Denmark’s highest point. On its top is a tower honoring King Frederik VII, who spearheaded development of the nation’s constitution. But in 1847, this “mountain” was demoted when officials calculated Ejer Baunehøj was higher. Yet, the battle of the peaks was not over. Denmark changed its highest point several more times, with vying heights only a few feet apart. The most recent measurements, completed in 2005, claim the Bronze Age mound at Yding Skovhøj as the highest construction, at 566 feet, and Møllehøj as the highest natural point, at 561 feet.
– Lithograph of Himmelbjerget from 1870, author unknown. Courtesy of Nordiske Billeder, via Wiki Commons
– Atlas Obscura: Himmelbjerget
– World Atlas: Countries with the lowest elevations
– Rasmus Kragh public Facebook site (in Danish)
– Jakob Urth public Facebook site (in English & Danish)
– AvisenDK – Fact: 17 Danes have reached the top of Everest (in Danish, cites Mountains
Danske ekspeditioner i Himalaya)
– The Blog on alanarnette.com – Record of Everest summit dates
– Geodatastyrelsen: New highest point in Denmark (in Danish)
– Photo of Everest by Petr Melssner, 2016, Yak caravan on the way to base camp, via Flickr/Wiki Commons