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UELI STECK: CREATE ADVENTURE, INSPIRE YOURSELF

Swiss speed climber and Mountain Hardwear Ambassador Ueli Steck has created more adventures than we can count. He climbed the Eiger’s North Face at the age of 18, breaking his own 2008 speed record of 2 hours 47 minutes again in 2015 (2 hours 22 minutes); summited Mount Everest without oxygen in 2012; completed first ascents in Alaska, Nepal and Pakistan; and most recently topped 82 4,000m peaks in 61 days across Europe. We asked the ‘Swiss Machine’ where he finds his inspiration to create amazing outdoor challenges and what motivates him to succeed.


Finding Inspiration and Motivation

 

“I don’t know how I get all of these ideas. I think it is because I’m living in this world as an alpinist and they just come up. For me they’re so obvious. I don’t have to look for them. I still have so many ideas inside my head.

 

“I’m after big challenges like climbing the Eiger in under two hours. There is so much potential with the 8,000m peaks too. I’m sure that it doesn’t make sense to make any camps on every 8,000m peak; it’s at most 3,000-4,000 vertical metres, which can be easily climbed within a day. In spring, I’m going back to Shishapangma to try a new climbing route on the South Face. I also spend summer in the Alps where I like to run ultra-trails.

 

“My mind-set is very simple. Let’s take the challenge of climbing the Eiger in two hours: I don’t know if I’ll ever achieve that, but I take it as a target, I take it as a goal. Maybe you’ll achieve it, maybe not and it’ll be two hours and 10 minutes, but you move on and you get stronger. Wanting to try it gives you motivation and starts the process of working on the small details, like training hard and training well.

 

“Just do it! You need an idea and a plan, but you have to be flexible in your mind. Weather conditions always change, so you have to be ready to adapt!”

82 Summits Project

Team Snow+Rock with Ueli (at the back in the blue) on Gran Paradiso, Italy, after completing the 80th summit.

 

(What is it? Speed climbing 82 4,000m mountains in Italy, Switzerland and France in 80 days, using his bike to cycle between the massifs. Ueli completed the project in an incredible 61 days.)

 

“The biggest challenge was the weather. The project was over two month, so it was also challenging to stay healthy and not to burn out. A small injury could stop the project! Every day had its challenges. On the way down the Bishorn in a total whiteout my GPS died; I had to follow a rocky ridge to descend.

 

“I felt good this whole trip. I wasn’t stressed and physical I never had any problems. Even on the Barre des Écrins, where I ran up the wrong valley in the morning in the dark, I was back down again by 8am and restarted after my four-hour ‘warm-up’. I ended the day with 47km and 3,500 vertical meters. It would have been a short day otherwise!

 

“Now it’s over, it means that I look for another idea. I’m a person how lives in the moment, not in the past.”

 

 

Training for your Challenge

“You have to be focussed on the process, not on the summit. It’s important to have the joy of training. It’s how you move on and progress. If you have joy in progress, I think you have a really good life and you can really push your limits.
 

“In terms of injuries, you have to be really smart in training. You need to take care of your body, and a lot of people don’t do that. I spend a lot of the time in the gym working on small muscles to stabilise, like strength training. It’s important to listen to your body.”

Fast and Light Hiking and Climbing

“I think that weight is so important. Brands have so many different products but in the end I just wanted a system that works together, from base camp to summit.

 

“That’s exactly what Mountain Hardwear have tried to do with this new collection; they’re a small company who make special things. The down jacket has the perfect balance between weight, insulation and water resistance.”


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