Friday, April 27, 2018

Belgian Climber Attempting Completely Human Powered Seven Summits Expedition

As if climbing each of the Seven Summits isn't enough of a challenge, Belgian adventurer Jelle Veyt has added a whole new level of difficulty to conquering the tallest peak on each of the seven continents. He is in the midst of an expedition during which he is attempting to not only climb those peaks, but travel to them completely under his own power. That means no motorized vehicles at all, but instead he is trekking, rowing, and cycling his way to each mountain.

Veyt calls his endeavor the Seven Summits of Happiness, and so far he has already knocked off Elbrus in Russia and Everest in the Himalaya, both of which he reached by riding his bike. Currently he is on his way to Indonesia to climb Carstensz Pyramid, a destination he will reach by rowing. After that, he intends to ride his bike to Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, then row the Atlantic to Miami and ride his bike Alaska to climb Denali. Once that's done, he'll then take the TransAmerica Highway by bike to Argentina to climb Aconcagua. From there he'll attempt to row across the Drake Passage and the Southern Ocean to climb Mt. Vinson in Antarctica, which he'll ski to from the coast.

That's one impressive list of things to do, and climbing the mountains is almost an afterthought to the other challenges. Rowing and cycling that many miles is always a challenge of course, but anything that takes place in the Southern Ocean is extremely difficult to say the least. But having already knocked off two of the Seven Summits under his own power – no one has ever done that before – its hard to bet against him.

Veyt says that five years ago he set off on this adventurous life with just a bike and €3,000 to his name. He pedaled across Europe and into Kazakhstan, which he found to not be particularly of interest. But then he turned onto the Tibetan Plateau and into Nepal where word of his intentions quickly spread. He joined an expedition to Everest led by Asian Trekking, but had his climb cut short when a collapse in the Khumbu Icefall killed 16 Sherpas. The following year he was stymied again when the massive earthquake hit the country, but in 2016 he finally stood on top of the highest mountain on Earth.

On his website, Jelle has a countdown of the days he estimates it'll take him to finish (3105), the kilometers he has yet to cycle (36,600), the kilometers he has yet to climb (29), the kilometers he has to row (8600) and the hours of training he still faces (220). That's a lot of time on a bike, in a rowboat, and a gym. But, if he pulls this off, it just might be one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of climbing and outdoor adventure.

You can follow his progress here.

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