Australian Sets Fastest 7 Summit Record—After His Neck Broke 4 Years Ago
Steve Plain became the fastest climber to scale the highest peaks on seven continents on May 14.
The 36-year-old from Albury, New South Wales, Australia, took 117 days to complete the feat popularly called the Seven Summits.
Plain scaled Mount Everest, 8,850 metres (29,035 feet), last, finishing in record time.
Janusz Kochanski, a Polish climber, held the previous record of completing the Seven Summits in 128 days. He began in Antarctica on Jan. 13 and finished on May 20, 2017.
As a child, Plain’s adventurous spirit led him to push boundaries and get into trouble. If detention wasn’t keeping him down, he would run with the Scouts, hike in national parks, rub shoulders with rugby players, and anything that would keep him out of trouble.
At 16, Plain spent time with the Venturer Scouts at one of the Everest base camps, a place to acclimate and reduce the severity of altitude sickness. It was here that the mountains stirred his dreams and captured his imagination.
“Go with the decision that will make for a great story,” wrote Plain.
On Dec. 13, 2014, Plain was swimming at the beach when a wave hammered him and he went head first into the sand. His friend and two lifesavers saved his life.
“You have a Hangman’s fracture,” said the doctor.
He had multiple fractures in his neck that resembled the kinds of injuries one would have from being hung on the gallows. Doctors advised that he should be in a wheelchair. Refusing the advice, Plain made himself a promise.
To climb seven mountains in less than four months. Project 7in4 was born.
In order to achieve his dream, he had to begin a series of practice runs to prepare for what was to come.
In November 2015, 11 months after breaking his neck, Plain took a mountaineering course and climbed Mount Aspiring, a mountain located among New Zealand’s Southern Alps. Between 2016 and 2017, he climbed in Peru and twice in the Himalayas.
Reuters contributed to this report.