Ever since his record-breaking free-solo ascent of the Eiger in 2008 (1,800 vertical meters in 2:47:33 - beating his own previous record by an hour), Steck has been regarded as one of climbing’s greats.The climbing purist has since dialed back on the fast solo climbs that led one outdoor magazine to call him the “Swiss Superman”.
“Speed soloing on technical routes is very dangerous,” says Steck. “I’m too old to take those risks!” But he’s moved on to bigger goals in the Himalayas, where he believes he can bring a new efficiency to high alpine climbing. “Speed will open up new lines on 8,000-meter peaks,” he says. “That’s what I’m looking for.”
The older, smarter Steck is not the same climber he was as a daring youth, pushing the limits of human capability. “I feel a difference between now and 10 years ago,” he adds. “My body needs more time to recover, and I have to be more careful with training.
But I’m more confident, and this gives me a lot of freedom. The fire still burns!”
That fire burns hot enough for 30 hours a week of training, including running, climbing, endurance and strength work. Paired with a lifetime of climbing knowledge, that work has already paid off. Steck made headlines with his Himalayan expeditions and more are sure to follow.
He says the Suunto Ambit is the perfect solution for both mountaineering and training. “It’s got everything I need in one package, whether I'm on an expedition in the Himalayas or on a hard one-day ascent in the Alps.”
But no matter what the route, Steck’s inspiration remains the same. “It’s the challenge of moving on in life,” he says. “I always want to try something I have not done before.”