The Swiss alpinist Gabriel Jungo climbed all four-thousanders on Swiss soil this summer and covered the distance in between under his own steam. The 48-year-old needed just 23 days to line up the 44 peaks in total.
The Friborg alpinists Gabriel Jungo he has been drawn to the mountains since he was 14 years old. In recent years, expeditions have taken him to the 7010 meter high Khan Tengri or to Lenin Peak. This summer he looked for a challenge right on his doorstep: Enchaining all 48 four-thousanders on Swiss soil and the prospect of exploring his own limits had long appealed to him. In the end he was able to complete his project after 44 days.
Gabriel, congratulations on this tremendous tour. Were you able to cope with them in the time you had previously imagined?
Of course, I already had a time in mind. Basically, I was more interested in seeing what is possible and in reaching my own limits. In theory, the project would have been possible in 26 days. This, however, without a rest or bad weather day. I've always considered 30 days to be realistic.
What are the reasons for the difference between theory and practice?
Mainly when choosing a partner. After two weeks, my first partner, Cedric, was unwell and fell ill. After that, nobody really had time to step in at short notice. In Tim from Scarpa Germany, however, I found a great partner who was able to support me on two tours and four summits.
Towards the end I had two days of bad weather, which forced me to descend again at the Grand Combin. And with three summits to go I had to take a whole week off due to a bad weather front.
Didn't you have any fixed partners for this project?
Originally I wanted to do it with Cedric, with whom I have already been on two expeditions. He initially approached me with the idea. Later he might have had a little too little motivation and time to train for the project. But I also have to say that before the project I didn't bother enough to look for someone else who would have had time. In other words: We simply communicated too little.
You decided to do this project by fair means, why?
I was inspired by Ueli Steck when he climbed all 82 four-thousanders in the Alps in this style. I thought this idea was cool. I also wanted to do a project in Switzerland and do it in a way that would push me to the limit. I liked the challenge of walking or cycling the distance between the mountains.
In the end, what was harder, mountaineering or pedaling?
The biathlon days were the hardest. So those where I rode longer distances by bike and then climbed up somewhere.
How did you deal with those moments mentally?
Luckily there weren't many days where I was really at the limit. Difficult were those moments when I didn't know if I could continue because I didn't have a partner anymore. When I was traveling alone, I pushed myself with music.
But my motivation for this project was usually very high. The idea of being able to go mountaineering again the next day always made me happy. I was happy throughout the whole project because I can do what I love.
How is it when you now look back on the project with a little distance?
On the one hand it feels super good because I learned a lot and had a really cool time. On the other hand, there is also disappointment, because I know inside that I could have done much more.
I admit that maybe I'm a bit of an achievement-oriented person. But this is what brings me the most joy and gives me the most in return.
Can you imagine repeating this project to find out exactly that?
That's a good question, one I've asked myself before. That's how the idea came to me, if I try it again, to try all 82 four-thousanders in the Alps. But to say right now, I'll try again, I can't and don't want to. I'm certainly open, but I don't want to commit myself at the moment.
How much time went into the preparation?
I worked quite professionally towards this ascent, talk to Coach. I trained according to training plans and prepared myself as well as possible. I work 60 percent, the rest I have invested in the sport.
How did you plan the ascent of the 48 peaks? Did you have a clear order in mind?
In terms of planning, I had a joker because I work with Daniel Mader at Movements, who did all the logistics for Ueli Steck at the time. I was able to access a lot of very helpful information. But basically I wanted to plan it myself and see how it worked out.
But of course I was aware that this could change very quickly depending on the weather and conditions, which happened in Valais. My whole plan was thrown overboard there.
Aside from choosing a partner, what would you do differently looking back?
I think I would like to have someone there, like Ueli Steck back then, who organizes the important things, for example the SAC huts, and who keeps an eye on the weather. This has become a bit tedious over time in addition to the effort. It really happened to us a couple of times that we forgot to sign out of a hut, which of course is super stupid.
With a project like this, can you enjoy the individual peaks or is it more of a ticking off?
That depends a lot on the day. When we did the spaghetti tour and climbed 15 peaks in one day, all we had to say was: up, summit photo and to the next. But I really enjoyed those peaks that I climbed alone and took some time at the top. But my days were often very tightly scheduled.
Which moments do you like to look back on?
There were many beautiful moments. Looking back, the whole time was very cool. Doing the spaghetti tour in one day was a lot of fun for me because I've wanted to try it for a long time. It's always nice when you can do what you love. I'm rarely as happy as when I can be in the mountains.
Since Gabriel Jungo's climbing partner was in poor physical condition after climbing the two Fiescherhörners and the Grünhorn, the duo was forced to alert a rescue helicopter, which flew them from the Grünhorn gap to the Konkordia hut. The next day they descended from the hut and Gabriel Jungo traveled home by public transport, from where he tackled the last three remaining peaks a short time later.
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Credits: Cover picture Gabriel Jungo