The Swiss Machine

Ueli Steck.  Man or machine?  Take a look for yourself.

Ueli Steck Speed Solo Eiger Nordwand

Ueli Steck is a Swiss alpinist at the top of the game.  Considered to be one of the best in history, he holds many first ascents and multiple speed records for some of the world’s toughest and highest peaks.  His list of climbing achievements is far too long to list here, beginning with his 1995 ascent of the notorious Eiger north face at the early age of 18, and continuing on to this day, with his most recent accomplishment being his ascent of Mt. Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen in 2012.  In between, he has soloed (climbing alone, without ropes) more peaks than most climbers have even set foot on, including the Eiger (4 times), Mönch, Taboche east face (first solo ascent), Cholatse north face (first solo ascent), Grand Jorasses north face, the Matterhorn north face, Gasherbrum II, and Shishapangma.

But what is even more impressive than his list of daring solo ascents is the speed that he did them in.  In  2007, he claimed the speed record for the north face of the Eiger, solo, with a time of 3 hours 54 minutes.  The following year, not content with his first time, he made another attempt, shattering his own record with a time of 2 hours, 47 minutes.  To put this super-human feat into perspective, this 13,025 foot route usually takes 4 entire days to climb, and has claimed the lives of at least sixty-four brave souls who attempted the challenge.

In 2009 Ueli also claimed the speed-record of the Matterhorn north face in 1 hour 56 minutes, solo.  In 2011, he took the speed-record of Shishapangma south face in 10 hours 30 minutes, also solo.

If you are still not convinced on Ueli’s super-human powers, his 2004 back to back to back ascents of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, three massive north faces in 25 hours, should be enough to convince you that he is not human.  Twenty-five hours of straight climbing on three of the world’s most difficult peaks, Ueli stretches the definition of what is humanly possible.

Without a doubt, Ueli Steck is a unique human specimen, but he claims that he is no better skilled than anyone else, crediting his ability to come from intense training alone.  He probably ranks as one of the “fittest” humans of all time.  He has an unbelievable ability to go at such a high intensity, for such a vast amount of time.  The incredible distance over difficult terrain, the altitude and the horrible weather seem to be no match for this Swiss alpinist, righteously earning him the nickname of the “Swiss Machine.”

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One Response to The Swiss Machine

  1. Hattrix11 Hattrix11 says:

    This is such a cool story! I wonder about his mentality… how do you suppose he climbs those peaks solo? It brings a whole new definition of mind over matter. He seems humble, but no ordinary man can accomplish a tenth of what he has and will do. I wonder what his blood samples would explain.. high hematocrit etc. The video was amazing, thanks for sharing!

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