It’s an immense challenge, climbing the highest summits in the world on every continent. And where there’s a challenge, Monegasques step up, both literally and figuratively. Just over a year ago HelloMonaco covered the exploits of six friends from Monaco climbing Kilimanjaro, the highest peak on the African continent.
Braving a final freezing night they climbed the last kilometres to Uhuru peak, the summit of Kilimanjaro standing at just under 6.000 metres above sea level. It is the highest free-standing peak in Africa, 5,895 metres to be exact.
If you were there to wait for the sun to pierce the thick blanket of clouds, you would have spied the Tanzanian flag and a drawing of the Monegasque flag by those six friends from around the Principality where the majority of them live and work: Nicolas, Clément, Benoît, Manu, Eric and Julien.
It’s enough adventure for a lifetime but we should have known that Monegasques wouldn’t stop there. Just when the rest of us have hardly made our New Year resolutions, an intrepid six from the Principality are already about to make an assault on Aconcagua in Argentina. It’s the highest point of the Andes with its summit at just short of 7000 metres above sea level.
Nicolas, Jérémy, Benoît, Manu, Eric and Julien will need all the festive season calories from gorging on treats to make this gruelling ascent.
So ambitious is the goal that the training itself would bring most mortals to their knees. Marathon running for endurance, then days on end with bags weighing 20 kilos trekking across the mythical Corsica GR 20 hiking trail and countless hours in the Principality’s gyms working on toning muscles to peak strength.
Not to mention heading to the Swiss Alps to get closer to simulating the real thing by scaling peaks over 4,000 metres in altitude: the Nadelhorn and the Weissmies.
But this is an even greater challenge than Kilimanjaro, 13 days rather than 6 days starting this January 16th with a long ascent of 120 km by what’s called the route of the Poles.
They are going to have to beat altitude sickness dealing with lack of oxygen and brave below-freezing temperatures that can reach -35°C accompanied by bone-chilling wind. Imagine the final ascent climbing 1,000 metres of height at night with ice axes! That arrival at the top of Aconcagua is planned for January 28th, cross fingers for luck.
Our Monegasque heroes are following their dream. Next on their list is Denali (which used to be called Mount McKinley) in Alaska, the highest peak in North America. Denali is the third most prominent and third most isolated peak on Earth, after Mount Everest and Aconcagua. And so the cherry on the top of the cake of their climbing dreams would be Mount Everest. The six friends belong to the Wolf Pack Sports Team association who with them help raise funds for among other things equipment to allow people with disabilities to experience sport.
The greatest climbers in the world have made a specialty of this. The history books and the Guinness Book of Records show an evolution of climbing firsts from 5 peaks in 5 continents to 7 peaks, then arguments about which seven; so to be sure some climbers have even targeted 8.
And then it became such a specialty challenge that aficionados claimed that the second highest peaks were in some ways more difficult. So an 8 peak challenge got expanded to a 14 peak challenge.
So our Monegasques can choose according to their passion what is the golden number of peaks to scale.
Our six heroes are following in the steps of Hercules who had to perform twelve “Labours”, feats so difficult that they seemed impossible.
What else can we expect of Monegasques and their colleagues and friends. Well, the world’s women have not let the men keep this adventure to themselves.
So while we cheer on the intrepid six men, somewhere in Monaco there is bound to be a woman with a dream who is more than up to the challenge .. and we can’t wait to applaud.