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Austrian Christian Stangl at Mt. Vinson (4892m) base camp (located at 2200m). On December 9, Stangl climbed Antarctica’s tallest peak in 9 hours, 10 minutes, slashing the previous speed record of about nineteen hours. The ascent completed his seven summits “speedrun” project. [Photo] Christian Stangl

On December 9, Austrian alpinist Christian Stangl reached the top of Antarctica’s Mt. Vinson (4892m) at around 4 p.m. local time, 9 hours and 10 minutes after leaving base camp (located at 2200m). [Alpinist had reported that Stangl’s time had bested a previously recorded Vinson speed record. However, the 1998 AAJ states that Conrad Anker made a round-trip speed ascent of Vinson via the normal route in 9 hours and 11 minutes on January 7, 1998. –Ed.] Stangl skied the initial eight kilometers to the base of the peak, then, carrying his skis on his back, ascended to the first and only major obstacle of his route, a steep rock step 200 meters below the summit. After summiting, Stangl descended to below the steep rock, where he clicked into his skis and descended to base camp.

Stangl’s ascent of the Vinson Massif marks the end of his quest to “skyrun” the seven summits. Applying this highly specific climbing style to the undeniably generic goal of climbing the highest peak on each continent of the world, Stangl’s skyrunning tactic is a bare bones representation of the “fast and light” ethic. He defines the style as self-supported, oxygen free solo climbing via a direct route [Not every “skyrun,” including his Vinson ascent, has been done via a direttissima. –Ed.] and, at all times, against the clock. Stangl’s conception of skyrunning also stipulates that each route must be climbed in a single day, not necessarily factoring in the descent.

Prior to his effort on Vinson, Stangl managed a 16 hour, 45 minute ascent of Denali (6194m), 16:42 on Everest (8848m), 5:18 on Mt. Elbrus (5643m), 5:36 on Kilimanjaro (5895m), 4:25 on Aconcagua (6956m), and a scant 49 minutes up Indonesia’s Carstensz Pyramid (4884m). All times recorded indicate the time needed to climb from base camp to summit.

Said Stangl of the finale to his seven summits quest, “The feeling was beyond description–all white around me, snow as far as you could see, an amazing and exhilarating view.”

Beginning in 2002 with Aconcagua, Stangl spent the last five years working to accomplish his “skyruns” on the seven summits. He has crafted his accomplishment simply to acknowledge total skyrunning time (that is, the combined time of all his ascents), which checks in at 58 hours, 45 minutes. He compared this time to the 500-odd hours of combined climbing time that it might take a normal climber to ascend the peaks.

While the speed of his ascents is certainly impressive, the manner in which it has been publicized is rather strained when stacked up against similar seven summit feats such as Irish alpinist Ian McKeever’s remarkable success in attaining all seven summits in a mere 156 days from January to June of 2007. Such variations to the seven summits goal suggest the inevitability that the feat popularized by Richard Bass’s Seven Summits (1986) will continue to be conceived of in very specific and particular ways depending on chosen style and logistical feasibility.

Sources: Ernst Wilde,,, AAJ (1998), Damien Gildea