8 Insane Mountain Climbing Records, and the People Who Set Them

8-insane-mountain-climbing-records-featuredThey say records are made to be bro­ken, but best of luck try­ing to match the super­hu­man feats of these moun­taineers. Our list includes sev­er­al sher­pas, a cou­ple of world-famous climbers, and a 12-year-old boy.

Pem­ba Dor­je Sher­pa
On May 21, 2004, this 26-year-old notched a record that is noth­ing short of unbe­liev­able ― a full climb of Mount Ever­est, from Saga­martha base camp to the sum­mit, in a mere 8 hours and 10 min­utes. To achieve this feat, Pem­ba Dor­je Sher­pa climbed more than 1,000 meters per hour. Though the time was ini­tial­ly dis­put­ed by the pre­vi­ous record-hold­er, Lhak­pa Gelu Sher­pa (who ful­ly sum­mit­ted Ever­est in 10 hours and 56 min­utes just one year ear­li­er), the Gov­ern­ment of Nepal’s Min­istry of Cul­ture, Tourism and Civ­il Avi­a­tion has since for­mal­ly rec­og­nized the record-break­ing 2004 climb.


Apa Sher­pa and Phur­ba Tashi Sher­pa Mende­wa
Even the most ded­i­cat­ed moun­taineers dream of climb­ing Ever­est just once in their life­time. Then there are Apa Sher­pa and Phur­ba Tashi Sher­pa Mende­wa, who togeth­er hold the record for the most sum­mits of the world’s high­est peak ― an aston­ish­ing 21 times apiece. Apa Sher­pa (aka, Super Sher­pa) suc­cess­ful­ly climbed Ever­est every year from 1990 to 2011, with the excep­tion of 1996 and 2001; to bal­ance things out, he record­ed two sum­mits in 1992. Super Sher­pa held the record on his own for near­ly two years until Phur­ba Tashi Sher­pa Mende­wa (who also holds the record for most Eight Thou­sander sum­mits at 30) climbed Ever­est for the 21st time in 2013. Phur­ba Tashi record­ed his first Ever­est sum­mit in 1999, and com­plet­ed three sep­a­rate climbs in 2007 alone. So we’re just going to go out on a limb and say these gen­tle­men are equal­ly impres­sive ― until one of them notch­es #22, that is. 


Ming­ma Sher­pa and Chhang Dawa Sher­pa
This feat is as unusu­al as it is impres­sive. In 2013, these two broth­ers became the first pair of sib­lings to each climb all 14 of the world’s peaks that exceed a height of 8,000 meters. In Sep­tem­ber 2013, they told Sev­en Sum­mit Treks that their next goal is to set an even more ambi­tious record: a suc­cess­ful sum­mit of Ever­est with their oth­er four broth­ers.


Ueli Steck
Most folks spend St. Valen­tine’s Day lav­ish­ing the one they love with choco­lates and flow­ers, but then again, leg­endary climber Ueli Steck isn’t most folks. On Feb. 14, 2008, he utter­ly destroyed his own speed record for climb­ing Eiger’s noto­ri­ous North Face by more than an hour. His final time was 2 hours and 47 min­utes. Steck lat­er told Alpin­ist that his rope played a big role; rather than self-belay­ing, he used a loop of rope to “to hook on occa­sion­al­ly”. He also lost 18 pounds in prepa­ra­tion for the 2008 sum­mit.


Chris­t­ian Stan­gl
The ‘Sev­en Sum­mits’ ― the high­est points on each offi­cial­ly rec­og­nized con­ti­nent ― com­bine for a col­lec­tive height of 43,316 meters (or rough­ly 142,113 feet). Cel­e­brat­ed Aus­tri­an moun­taineer Chris­t­ian Stan­gl has climbed all sev­en peaks in less time than any­one else in his­to­ry: a pal­try 58 hours and 45 min­utes. Here’s a break­down of each climb:

  • Denali (North Amer­i­ca): 16 hours, 45 min­utes

  • Ever­est (Asia): 16 hours, 42 min­utes

  • Mount Vin­son (Antarc­ti­ca): 9 hours, 10 min­utes

  • Kil­i­man­jaro (Africa): 5 hours, 36 min­utes

  • Mount Elbrus (Europe): 5 hours, 18 min­utes

  • Aconcagua (South Amer­i­ca): 4 hours, 25 min­utes

  • Pun­cak Jaya (Ocea­nia): 49 min­utes 


Mike and Matt Moniz
In June 2010, 12-year-old Mike Moniz and his father, Matt, set out to reach the high­est point in each U.S. states. They not only met their goal, but also set a new world record by com­plet­ing all 50 climbs in just 43 days, 2 hours, and 8 min­utes. The list includes Alaska’s Denali, Cal­i­for­ni­a’s Mount Whit­ney, and Wash­ing­ton’s Mount Rainier, which com­bine for near­ly 50,000 feet ― not to men­tion Flori­da’s Brit­ton Hill, which reach­es a height of 345 feet. The world should prob­a­bly keep an eye on the younger Moniz; in addi­tion to this record, he’s climbed three of the oth­er Sev­en Sum­mits (Aconcagua, Kil­i­man­jaro, and Mount Elbrus) and reached Ever­est base camp.  


Heather Ander­son and Josh Gar­rett
Com­plet­ing the entire Pacif­ic Crest Trail is more of a hik­ing feat than a climb­ing feat, but com­plet­ing the 2,663-mile trail requires a fair bit of climb­ing and these records are too impres­sive to ignore ― nev­er­mind the fact that both were set with­in 48 hours of each oth­er. On Aug. 7, 2013, Ander­son reached the Cana­di­an bor­der after a 60-day trek; this stands as not only the fastest PCT hike for a female, but also the best time for any self-sup­port­ed hik­er (male or female) by almost four days. Then, on Aug. 9, Gar­rett reached the Cana­di­an bor­der after a 59-day hike, thus earn­ing the record for the fastest PCT com­ple­tion in his­to­ry (that’s an aver­age of more than 37 miles per day).