Four years after enduring an accident that nearly left him paralyzed, Australian mountaineer Steve Plain is now the fastest person to reach the top of the tallest mountain on each of the world’s seven continents, shattering the previous record by eight days.
Earlier this morning, Plain, along with his guides Jon Gupta and Pemba Sherpa, reached the top of Mount Everest, completing the seven-summit tour in just 117 days, as AFP reports. Plain’s GPS tracker confirmed the achievement, showing his location at the top of the 29,030-foot-tall (8,848 meters) mountain. Soon after reaching the summit, Gupta tweeted the news:
Since January, the Australian climber has reached the tops of Mount Vinson in Antarctica (16,050 feet, 4,892 meters); Mount Aconcagua in South America (22,841 feet, 6,962 m); Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa (19,340 feet, 5,895 m); Carstensz Pyramid in Papua New Guinea (at 16,023 feet, or 4,884 meters, it’s the tallest in Australia—more on this in just a bit); Mount Elbrus in Europe (18,510 feet, 5,642 m); and Mount Denali in North America (20,308 feet, 6,190 m). The previous record was held by Polish climber Janusz Kochanski, who reached all seven summits in 126 days.
This incredible feat is all the more incredible considering Plain broke his back in a horrific swimming accident in 2014. In addition to multiple fractures along his vertebra, Plain suffered a contorted spinal cord, a ruptured disc, a dissected artery, and torn ligaments. Doctors told him there was a good chance he might never walk again. It was during Plain’s recovery that he set upon the task of conquering the seven continental summits.
“Lying in that hospital staring at the ceiling with the thought that I may not be able to walk again and do some of the things I wanted to do, I decided right there to give myself some focus in the rehab process,” he said a year ago.
There’s some debate as to which mountains belong on the list, specifically the tallest in Australia. Technically speaking, the Carstensz Pyramid is in Indonesia, and not the Australian continent. That distinction goes to the 7,310 foot (2,228 m) Mount Kosciuszko. But nitpickers needn’t worry: Plain climbed that one as well, just for safe measure.