Swiss rock climber and mountaineer Ueli Steck made history recently by achieving 82 summits higher than 13,000 feet in the Swiss, Italian, and French Alps in just 61 days. The 35-year-old used the power of his own feet, a bike, skis and a paraglider to achieve the goal.
Known for his ability to speed-climb difficult peaks, Steck already holds numerous climbing records. He’s called the “Swiss Machine” for a reason. Steck holds the solo speed record on the Matterhorn’s north face. He’s hiked to the summit of Mount Everest without any supplemental oxygen. And he owns many climbing records in the Alps and the Himalayas.
Steck completed the 82 peaks in just 61 days, but it was one day short of the speed record set by Italians Franco Nicolini and Diego Giovannini’s 2008 linkup of all 82 summits in 60 days.
Steck climbed the routes accompanied by friends, mountaineering partners, and occasionally by his wife. German climber Michael Wohllenben dropped put of the 82 Summit project in June after suffering a leg injury on a rough paraglider landing off Schreckhorn in Switzerland. The project took a tragic hit at the end of July when Streck’s partner Martijn Seuren died in a fall on the border of France and Italy.
This new challenge is a test of his endurance, and he’s pushing his body to keep moving every day. He began the quest on June 11 at Piz Bernina in Switzerland and is on pace to complete the journey on August 29. If all goes as planned, he will have cycled more than 600 miles and climbed over 300,000 vertical feet, roughly equivalent to climbing to the top of Mount Everest from base camp 26 times.
The colorful Steck was the 2014 Piolets d’Or winner, an award given to the best individual in mountaineering and he has often been in the headlines for more than just his climbing skills. His dangerous solo ascent of Annapurna in the Himalayas (2013) was daring and called “borderline suicidal.” He also made news for his violent fights with Sherpas on Mount Everest.
Most days Ueli Streck began climbing very early, between 2 and 4 a.m., finishing his day between 2-6 p.m. and ready for food and a long rest. He eats lots of powerbars to keep his energy high, but also lots of real food – pasta, potatoes, vegetables, meats and salads, according to an article in Outside Magazine.