In 2005 Ed Viesturs became only the fifth man in the world to summit all 14, 8000ers without oxygen. In 2007, Silvio 'Gnaro' Mondinelli became number 6, followed by Ivan Vallejo last year as number 7, and number 14 overall (with or w/o O2) on the list.
This year we had a jackpot, with no less than four climbers entering the list, and two without supplementary oxygen: Denis Urubko and Veikka Gustafsson.
Even counting those using artificial oxygen, the number of people who have stood on top of all the highest mountains on earth (above 8000 meters tall) would not fill a room.
Gnaro's quest took 14 hard years, Ed's took 20. Done after only 11 years, Vallejo was fast. Faster even was Urubko, still requiring 9 years.
Ed and Christian Kuntner received a joint ExWeb award for the achievement - the latter post mortem: Christian died on his peak no 14, Annapurna. The number of mountaineers perished on the 8000ers while hoping for this success are staggering. This year we lost a woman, one of only five currently qualifying for the list.
If facts such as statistics, time and obituaries count for anything; then this is a human quest in a league of its own. The men and women aspiring for the experience need no numbers to know though; "I've been so lucky to survive this long," Lock told Aussie home media.
Lock; one more mountain. Veikka; moving on.
Ralf Dujmovits and Andrew Lock both used oxygen albeit only on Everest. Planning to repeat Everest next year without oxygen, "I need to finish 8,000 metre climbing soon because I've been so lucky to survive this long," Lock said. "That's why I say, 'this one more climb' - then it's time to hang up the boots."
Andrew finished his project in style; he and British mate Neil Ward were the only to reach Shishas Main summit this fall, after climbing from the north side via a variation of Iñaki's route.
On July 26th in a very thin year of summits, together with Japanese Kazuya Veikka Gustafsson stood at the top of Gasherbrum I, becoming the 9th climber in the world to summit all 8000ers without bottled oxygen.
Except for Cho Oyu, the Finn has done the first absolute ascent of all 8000ers for his country. On his record, 17 main 8000ers (repetitions on DH and 2x EV), and conquests on several continents, including first ascents on some Antarctic peaks in the 90´s.
Wrote Veikka afterwards: Just said to Kazuya, that now this mountain has been climbed, its done and over. 17 years of freezing wind and glacier conditions - now thats done and finished. Its time to move on.
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8. Best of ExplorersWeb 2009 Awards: Altitude Junkies and FTA - corporate compassion.
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Related story: GI summits - Veikka Gustafsson completes the 14x8000ers list!
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