Project 7in4 Break ‘7 Summits’ World Record

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MONTANE SUPPORTED ‘PROJECT 7in4’ EXPEDITION SUMMIT MOUNT EVEREST, SETTING NEW ‘7 SUMMITS’ WORLD RECORD

Having already ticked 6 of the 7 required summits off in good time, the expedition’s goal to break the ‘7Summits’ world speed record was achieved in the early hours of this morning, when Steve Plain and Montane Athlete Jon Gupta summited Mount Everest a full 9 days ahead of the previous world record.

The ‘7 Summits’ is a pre-existing challenge to summit the tallest peak on each continent.  The previous world speed record for summiting all seven currently stands at 126 days by Polish mountaineer Janusz Kochanski in 2017.

In order to break this record, Steve Plain and Project 7in4 had to successfully summit the tallest peak on each continent, with the clock starting once at the summit of the first, and ending at the summit on the last:

  • – Mt Vinson (Antarctica, 4892m) 16.01.18
  • – Mt Aconcagua (S. America, 6962m) 28.01.18
  • – Mt Kilimanjaro (Africa, 5895m) 14.02.18
  • – Carstensz Pyramid (Australasia, 4884m) 24.02.18
  • – Mt Elbrus (Europe, 5642m) 13.03.18
  • – Mt Denali (N. America, 6190m) 03.04.18
  • – Mt Everest (Asia, 8488m) 14.05.18

 

The team arrived at Everest base camp on the 18th April, and completed their acclimatisation without incident and in a timely enough fashion to allow for a Nuptse summit attempt.  In near-perfect conditions, they came harrowingly close to the summit, but had to turn back with 200m of ascent to go due to severe overloading and avalanche risk.  Only 20 people have ever successfully climbed Nuptse, so that number will stay as it is for a while yet, unfortunately.

With the clock ticking from the moment he reached his first summit (Mt Vinson), to break the world record Steve needed to summit Mt Everest before 22nd May. To achieve this, a lot of things had to go well; even the slightest delay could lead to missing the record.  A single equipment malfunction or illness from food or altitude could spell disaster for the expedition as a whole.  Even something as supposedly trivial as losing a glove or getting wet could increase the already palpable risk of injury or worse. One may be forgiven for thinking that undertaking an extra peak – let alone the 20th tallest in the world, and one third of the infamous ‘triple crown’ – was an unnecessary risk.

This expedition – and those who executed it – embody the romanticism that pulls people into the mountains; to be immersed in their ethereal beauty and uncompromising hostility, and their Nuptse attempt highlights the level of drive and ambition which formed the kernel around which the project was built.

Aristotle famously said ‘We are what we repeatedly do…’ The lesser known second half of this quote states ‘excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.’ Nuptse was attempted because they love climbing, and Project 7in4 is the brainchild of  mountaineers in the truest sense of the word.  True to form, what did they do to celebrate their new World Record? Climb Lhotse, the 5th tallest mountain in the world, within 48hrs of Everest.

When it came to Everest, the real deciding factor was the weather.  Thunder and lightning storms harassed basecamp, and strong winds battered the peak for 3-4 days before their summit dash.  However, once conditions improved they were quick to move, with their immensely skilled Sherpa teams working tirelessly fixing ropes up to the summit.  They left their tents at ‘high camp’ on South Col (seen on the first picture between Everest and Lhotse) late yesterday evening, crossing the col before heading up to the Balcony.  They then ascended the ridge up to South Summit, navigated the Hillary Step before reaching the summit of the world early this morning.

About the Team:

 

Steve and Jon have climbed together before, having met whilst on Ama Dablam in 2016. Jon remembers the climb – and Steve – fondly, reminiscing of the trip;

‘‘(Steve was) a reserved, super strong, fast to acclimatise 36 yr old Aussie who impressively ticked off Ama, Lobuche & Island in just 4 weeks. Easily.’

STEVE PLAIN
Steve suffered a broken neck following a surfing accident in 2014 and, for a while, doctors were unsure whether he would ever walk again. Despite this, Steve overcame all the odds stacked against him and in under a year he had already summited Mt Aspiring in New Zealand.  The first of a number of training expeditions to prepare his mind and body for the most ambitious undertaking of his life.  He set out on this incredible adventure to raise awareness and funds for the Surf Life Saving
Association and SpinalCure Austrailia.

JON GUPTA
Jon is no stranger to challenge. He has organized, climbed, guided and summited mountains on over 65 expeditions across the world, and has summited most of the mountains involved on Steve’s expedition – including Everest – at least twice.  In fact, he has more high-altitude experience than anyone in the UK his age. He is also used to the time-sensitive pressures of record-breaking, having achieved a number of world record-breaking speed ascents around the world.

While he has helped Steve organize and plan the whole project, he didn’t go to Antarctica with him, and initially, Everest was only a maybe.  Thankfully, however, Jon has joined Steve for the final peak.

 

Highlights so far have included:

  • A double-summit of Mt Kilimanjaro
  • The solitude of climbing largely ‘out of season’
  • Overcoming incredibly treacherous conditions on Mt Denali
  • The first ‘proper climbing’ of the expedition on Carstensz Pyramid
  • An additional summit attempt on the seldom-climbed Nuptse
  • Completion of their goal and setting the new 7 Summits World Record in an astonishing 117 days

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