In 7 Summits,Mountains

The 7 Summits World Record Attempt

I received this email in my inbox on August 20th, 2017:

“G’day Cody, just came across your website and noticed what you’re doing and that you are also from Perth. I’m doing something similar. Here is my website.

www.project7in4.com.

If you are interested it would be great to catch up some time.

Cheers,
Steve”

 

If you check the website menioned, you’ll see Steve is attempting a world record; to climb the 7 Summits in 4 months or less. American Colin O’Brady holds the current world record at 131 days, 12 hours. Steve wants to do it in around 120 days. That to me, sounded slightly insane. So yes, although we are doing something similar in climbing the 7 Summits, the way we are doing it is light years apart (at my current pace, that could be a literal measure of the time disparity).

I say it sounded insane, because Steve is currently at camp 3 on Mount Everest, 118 days in to the expedition, having already climbed the other 6 summits. It looks unlikely he’ll reach the goal of 4 months, however a world record seems imminent. Not so insane any more…

The feat of climbing the 7 Summits is an impressive one in itself. Less than 500 people have ever done it. Doing so in record time is absolutely incredible. Even more unbelievable? Doing so after recovering from a broken neck less than 3 years earlier.

“In December 2014, Steve was out on a regular swim at Perth’s Cottesloe beach when he was dumped by a wave and driven head first into the sand. Steve lay head-down in the water, unable to breathe. Lifesavers rushed to Steve’s aid, pulling him out of the water and rushing him to hospital.” You can read more of the story here or on the project 7in4 website. Needless to say, future climbing prospects looked grim.

7 summits record

A long way from climbing anything at this point… doctors weren’t even sure Steve would gain full movement capacity again.

 

Steve fought hard to recover though, setting himself the goal of climbing the 7 summits to pull him through the long sessions of rehabilitation. Using a milestone goal such as climbing Mt Everest was what Bear Grylls used to recover from a broken back in his early twenties. It no doubt helped Steve in the same way. Eventually getting rid of the halo brace, there was now the task of understanding what it took to climb the big hills- Steve had never climbed a serious mountain before…

4 ‘practice runs’ were decided upon, to ensure he had the skills and the ability to actually climb the harder of the 7 summits, such as Denali and Everest.

  • Step 1 was a climbing course and an ascent of Mt Aspiring (3,033m) in New Zealands south island. He did this only 11 months after breaking his neck…
  • Step 2: The technical Alpamayo (5,947m) in Peru (along with a couple of other 6,000m odd peaks)
  • Step 3: Ama Dablam (6,812m) in Nepal. A peak Sir Edmund Hilary once described as ‘un-climable’. Perhaps one of the sexiest peaks in the Himalaya to top it off.
  • Step 4: The world’s 4th highest Peak, Lhotse (8,516m).

Steve had all these knocked off by May 20th, 2017 and set his sights on the record for the following year.

It was about 4 months later, in August, that I received the email mentioned above. We teed up a chat about all things climbing. It was a rare event for the city of Perth, Australia. I made sure to get it on camera….

 

 

Steve flew out to Antarctica in December to get the project underway. Since that time, he’s knocked off;

  • Vinson Antarctica (16/1/18)
  • Aconcagua South America (28/1/18)
  • Kilimanjaro Africa (14/2/18)
  • Carstensz Pyramid Australasia (21/2/18)*
  • Elbrus Europe (13/3/18)
  • Denali North America (3/4/18)
  • Everest Asia….

* For good measure,  he’s also knocked off the highest peak in Australia, Mt Kosciuszko (classed by many as one of the 7 Summits, including yours truly.)

 

Now Steve is making his way up to camp 4 on Everest and is a stones throw away from reaching his goal. What an incredible journey it’s been. Whether he gets there or not, this guy has more to be proud of than most. I have no question in my mind however, that in a few days he’ll be standing on top of the world, a testament to the powers of perseverance and determination in overcoming the most extreme of lifes obstacles. A world record will just top it off.