Swiss mountaineer Ueli Steck has completed his 82 Summits Challenge - in which he climbed all 82 peaks over 4,000m in Western Europe in just 62 days, using only muscle power to travel between mountains. The challenge took Ueli and his climbing partners through Switzerland, Italy and France and included over 1,000km of cycling and 100,000m of altitude.
Having begun the challenge alongside German alpinist Michael Wohlleben, Ueli resorted to sourcing other partners after a leg injury sustained by Michael on a paraglider landing forced him to drop out.
Accompanied by friends and occasionally his wife on the subsequent climbs, tragedy struck as Ueli's Dutch partner Martijn Seuren died after falling near the border of France and Italy on 22nd July. Despite being deeply saddened by the accident, Ueli vowed to continue with the project in memory of Martijn.
As his final summit, Ueli climbed the Barre des Écrins (4,102m) yesterday. As though the past 80 days of climbing, running, cycling and paragliding weren't enough, Ueli had a longer warm-up than intended, taking a 3.5 hour detour after running up the wrong valley.
In 1993, an official list of 82 4,000m summits was produced by the UIAA. Unfortunately, this list came about after British Mountain guides Martin Moran and Simon Jenkins had attempted the first continuous traverse of the mountains earlier in the year, completing 74 peaks in 52 days.
In 2006, Slovenian climber Miha Valic summitted 82 peaks in 102 days in Winter conditions, using a van for transport between the mountains.
Italian alpinists Diego Giovannini and Franco 'Franz' Nicolini completed the first non-mechanized link up of all 82 Alpine 4,000m summits in 2008, in just 60 days. They climbed the peaks from West to East, finishing on Piz Bernina and still hold the speed record to date.