There are two kinds of great athletes. The first stand out by comparison, the Jordans, Gretzkys and Maradonas who dominate by being consistently better than their peers. The second are completely different. These are the athletes whose approach is so different from what has come before that they not only excel, but change their sports in the process. Ueli Steck is one of these athletes.
Steck isn’t just a fast climber. His application of speed and ultra-marathon level endurance to mountaineering is as revolutionary as Reinhold Messner’s introduction of alpine-style climbing to the Himalayas in the 1970s. Steck is, in effect, creating a new sport, shattering speed records by moving faster over snow, rock and ice than most climbers can imagine.
But what does it mean for alpinism to be focused on time? Traditionally, in the climbing world, records were fixed. When a team or soloist bagged a first ascent, that was that. The route could be climbed again, climbed faster, or in a different style, but the first ascent stayed on the books. Time-based records, like those in running, only hold till someone faster comes along.
Steck, though, continues to approach his projects with a traditional climbing mindset. His goal isn’t to beat a competitor’s time but to reinvent a route as a speed climb. Like the first free ascent of a climb that has only previously been aided, Steck’s projects are reinterpretations of existing routes. After setting a speed record on the Eiger, he turned to the Himalaya to pioneer speed ascents on 8,000 meter peaks. He returns this spring to continue that quest.
So while Steck’s projects are measured in time, what sets them apart is the vision behind them. Eventually, his time record for any given climb may be beaten. But like Roger Bannister’s sub-four-minute mile, his first speed ascents will stand as milestones even if their times are broken.
To develop this next generation of alpine gear, Steck teamed up with Mountain Hardwear’s product development team. For the past year, they have worked together to create the ultimate Alpine Speed Climbing kit, a system of apparel, accessories and equipment that’s not just lighter than anything available today, but designed with a simplicity and efficiency of function tailored to Steck’s style. The gear that helps to get Ueli up alpine climbs is now available to help on your next adventure -be it a light weight backpacking trip to Isle Royale National Park or a climbing adventure in the Keweenaw! Stop by to see this amazing gear!
The Desna Light Weight Hoodie
The Desna is our ultimate lightweight hoodie. Its hardface Power Stretch® fabric and versatile semi-fitted cut make this the favorite top for speed-climber Ueli Steck.
Low-profile, helmet-compatible hood is fitted like a balaclava
Deep zipper opening at neck for easy on/off and thermoregulation
Internal stash pocket
Micro-Chamois™-lined chin guard prevents zipper chafe.
The Warlow Pant
Elastic waist band with belt loops for customized fit
Zippered hand pockets
Zippered gussets at hem
Scrambler ULT 30
An ultralight summit pack that is fully featured and versatile enough to satisfy the most demanding alpinist or fast packer.
Compression molded backpanel sheds snow and ventilates
HardWave framesheet provides comfortable carry, but is removable to reduce weight
Top loader with zippered top pocket to keep smaller gear handy
Versatile compression system secures climbing gear and overloads, but can be removed to reduce weight when not needed.
Sternum strap and fixed webbing waistbelt add stability when needed and the low profile padded shoulder straps make for a comfortable carry!
If you haven’t seen Ueli climb check out this video…..he truly is a climbing machine!