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with Stefan Nestler

82 four-thousanders in 80 days

Michi Wohlleben (l.) and Ueli Steck

Michi Wohlleben (l.) and Ueli Steck

They are on the way. The two top climbers Ueli Steck from Switzerland and Michi Wohlleben from Germany have now scaled the first of the 82 four-thousanders of the Alps, the 4,048-meter-high Piz Bernina in Switzerland. At 10 a.m. they reached the summit, after they had spent the night at the Tschierva Hut at 2,573 meters above sea level. Within just 80 days, the 38-year-old Ueli and the 24-year-old Michi want to climb all four-thousanders of the Alps, which are located in Switzerland, Italy and France – if possible, not on the normal but on more demanding routes.

Stop chasing records

The planned route through the Alps

The planned route through the Alps

The two mountaineers will have to climb on their 80-day-trip a total of 100,000 meters in altitude. They want to shorten the descent by paragliding where possible. Steck and Wohlleben will bike from mountain to mountain. It would be just a journey through the summer, Ueli said. “I want to send a message that I address also to myself”, Steck told the Swiss newspaper NZZ. “The message that chasing records is dangerous. If I continue to stay in this movie ‘Always faster, higher and further’, it will end deadly sometime. I know that.”

To Nuptse in fall

In fall 2014, Steck had narrowly escaped the avalanche on the eight-thousander Shishapangma in Tibet that had killed the German Sebastian Haag and the Italian Andrea Zambaldi. In 2013, on his solo climb through the Annapurna South Face, he almost stripped the screw, Ueli admitted. “I even accepted that I probably would not come back alive. And that’s too much “, Ueli told me a few months ago. But the Swiss top climber will not completely say good-bye to the extremes. Next fall, Steck wants to repeat the route of Valeri Babanov and Yuri Kosholenko on 7804-meter-high Nuptse East (in the neighborhood of Mount Everest): in a team with the American Colin Haley, in Alpine style. In 2003, the two Russians for the first time succeeded in reaching the summit of Nuptse East via the South Pillar. They fixed ropes up to 6,400 meters – what resulted in a heated debate about their style of climbing. The route “had been desecrated by bolts and fixed ropes”, criticized US-climber Steve House, who had reached an altitude of 7,200 meters on the same route in Alpine Style in 2002. Babanov countered: “The mountain is waiting, you just need to go there and climb it!”


11. June 2015 | 14:36