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.
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.”