We have heard about Grand Slams in sports like Tennis, Equestrian and Golf several times. Albeit, these well-known feats seem inferior when it comes to the Grand Slam of exploration and adventure. It takes years and years of training and practice to be able to scale a mountain that is the tallest in its continent or one of the poles. However, there are a lot of humans who have made it look like a child’s play.
These set of humans have not just scaled one of the tallest peaks but have done that in every continent and crossed the poles as well making it a grand slam of exploration and mountaineering. This grand slam includes scaling all the highest peaks of the seven continents along with crossing the North Pole and the South Pole. Crossing the poles has been made easier lately by setting the parameter as crossing the distance between the 89 degrees and the 90-degree latitudes making it known as the Last Degree Explorers Grand Slam. However, there are many variations to this Grand Slam feat. There is some consensus that a True Explorers Grand Slam means one will also have summitted all 14 peaks above 8,000 meters along with the other requirements of an Explorers Grand Slam. Likewise, there is some consensus that a True Adventurers Grand Slam is achieved by also visiting the magnetic north and south poles which makes the task even tougher.
These 7 peaks include:
|Name||Continent||Country||Height||First climbed in||First climbed by|
|Mt. Everest||Asia||Nepal||29035 feet||1953||Edmund Hillary, Tenzing Norgay|
|Mt. Kilimanjaro||Africa||Tanzania||19340 feet||1889||Hans Meyer|
|Denali||North America||United States||20320 feet||1913||Hudson Stock, Harry Karstens,
|Aconcagua||South America||Argentina||22841 feet||1897||Matthias Zurbriggen|
|Vinson Massif||Antarctica||Chile||16050 feet||1966||Barry Corbert,
|Mt. Elbrus||Europe||Russia||18510 feet||1874||Crauford Grove, Peter Knubel|
|Mt. Kosciuszko||Oceania||Australia||7310 feet||1840||Edmund Strzelecki|
David Hempleman-Adams was the first person to complete this challenge in 1998. He also achieved the Adventurers Grand Slam by completing his ascent to the magnetic North and South Pole of the earth. Interestingly, his expeditions to the Magnetic North and South Pole were solo with no human or animal accompanying him. His daughter Camilia Adams is also the youngest person ever to ski the North Pole last degree.
The True Explorers Grand Slam which includes the 14 peaks above 8000m has been accomplished by only two people till date. South Korean Park Young Seok was the first person to achieve this feat when he did it in 2005 and it was not emulated until recently by Zhang Liang of China in June 2018. Park Seok ironically went missing while trying to find a new route to scale Annapurna in 2011 and was never found.
In 2011, former Wales rugby union international Richard Parks became the first person ever to complete the (last degrees) Grand Slam within a single calendar year, doing so in just a span of 7 months. His feat is also known as the 737 challenge which he performed in 6 months and 11 days.
Ryan Waters became the first American to complete “True Adventurers Grand Slam” by skiing full length, unsupported and unassisted North and South Pole expeditions and climbing the seven summits.
The fastest man and woman to accomplish to Last Degree Explorer Grand Slams are Colin o Brady and Jing Wang. Interestingly, in 2008 Colin o Brady had an accident with fire causing third degree burns to 25% of his body. 8 surgeries were required to treat that, and he was declared never fit to walk again. Following physical rehabilitation, he won several triathlons and completed the Iron Man as well apart from being the quickest to Explorers Grand Slam which he achieved in just a span of 139 days.
While, his female counterpart Jing Wang achieved the feat in 142 days.
Among the 63 people who have completed the Explorer’s Grand Slam, 46 have done it the last degree way making their job a bit easier. However, the youngest of the club is Marin Minamiya.
The Japenese lass entered the list at the tender age of 20 which is still a understatement by her standards as she scaled the seven summits at just the age of 18 making a record in that as well.
Out of the 11 females to have achieved the feat, Norwegian Cecilie Skog is the only one to have done that without the last degree advantage. Among the other ten are two Indian females named Tashi and Nungshi Malik.
The Malik sisters are the first and only twins so far to achieve the feat and also the only Indians to have done so. They are also the only twins to have scaled the seven summits. They were born in Meerut and currently hail from Dehradun.
A feat which is meant to be for brave-hearts has been taken to another level by a brave-heart named Sean Swarner. He happens to be a two time cancer survivor. In the first time he suffered from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma stage 4 and was given only 3 months to live. He defied all odds but was struck with Askin’s Sarcoma later to which he refused to succumb as well and braved his health into achieving the humongous task called Explorer’s Grand Slam.
Also, Lt.Col Ranveer Singh Jamwal is preparing to summit the last and 7th highest peak Vinson Massif this year. He has already summitted the 6 highest peaks of the continents with Everest alone summitted thrice.
Written by – Divyanshu Gandhi, Student (International Management Institute)
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