The first Vietnamese to conquer the 7 highest mountains on all continents

Reaching the top of Everest in May, Mr. Khai Nguyen became the first Vietnamese to complete the Adventure Grand Slam including 7 high mountains and the North and South Pole.

Also according to the list published on the Explorers Grand Slam website, Khai Nguyen is the 50th person in the world to complete this challenge. There are two lists of the world’s seven tallest mountains in the world, differing by the opinion of the person making the list whether Australia is a continent or part of Oceania. The most popular listing, however, is by climber Reinhold Messner.

7 mountains are arranged in descending height, respectively Everest (8,849 m) located between the border of China and Nepal (Asia); Aconcagua (6,961 m) in Argentina (South America); Denali (6,190 m) in Alaska, USA (North America); Kilimanjaro (5,895 m) in Tanzania (Africa); Elbrus (5,642 m) in Russia (Europe); Vinson (4,892 m) in Antarctica and finally Puncak Jaya (4,884 m) at Carstensz Pyramid island located in the island of Papua, Indonesian territory in Oceania. According to mountaineer Dick Bass, Mount Puncak Jaya will be replaced by Kosciuszko (2,228 m). For more than 10 years, Khai Nguyen has successfully climbed all of the above mountains.

Certificate of completion of the 7 highest mountains on the continents and the two poles of the earth.
Certificate of completion of the 7 highest mountains on the continents and the two poles of the earth by Khai Nguyen.

Climbers used to be afraid of heights

Khai Nguyen was born and raised in Ho Chi Minh City, currently lives and works in California (USA). He shared, he previously loved backpacking, hiking, and trekking, but he never thought he would one day climb mountains because he was afraid of heights since childhood.

2009, a year after his trip to the North Pole, he prepared for a skiing trip from the last latitudes to the South Pole. The South Pole of the earth is located at an altitude of more than 2,800 m, but people coming here will feel at an altitude of 3,400 m or more, because the air pressure is lower than in places near the equator and the weather is too cold. To get used to the altitude, he decided to climb a 4,300 m mountain in California. When he rested halfway down the mountain slope and looked down, the feeling of fear of heights came again, making his limbs weak. To reassure himself, he looked at the distant horizon.

“The scenery was very beautiful at that time. I thought why not enjoy the beautiful nature but think about the dangerous things that could happen, from there I have more motivation to continue climbing to the top. I did enjoy that first snow climb and thought I would continue climbing,” he said. His next goal after the Antarctic trip is the 7 highest mountains on all continents, to overcome his fear of heights.

Originally, Mr. Khai planned to conquer the peaks sequentially from low to high, but the sequence was not as originally planned because he could not arrange the time and he also returned several times before reaching the top. Climbing time ranges from 5 days in Elbrus to 6 weeks in Everest. During his time climbing 7 mountains, he also climbed many other mountains.

For most of the trips he uses mountaineering services, some companies like Mount Vinson or Denali require experience in snow climbing, walking on glaciers … otherwise they will have to go through a training course before really climbing. As for Everest, the company Pioneer Adventure requires people who have experience climbing 6,500 m or more. In Aconcagua he climbed alone without a guide, using only the service at the basecamp.

The cost of his Everest climb is about $40,000-65,000. The cost of climbing Vinson is 4,5000 USD, Denali about 11,000 USD. Mount Elbrus and Kilimanjaro alone cost between $1,000 and $2,000. Aconcagua climbing service is about 4,000 USD, the permit is nearly 1,000 USD.

Besides Everest, he considers Denali the most difficult peak. Because the mountain is lower than Everest, the weather is erratic and the forecast is often inaccurate. Moreover, climbers must apply for a Denali climbing permit at least two months before climbing, instead of having support from a service company like Everest. When climbing Denali, he was almost completely self-sufficient, with no help and the climber had to carry all his solid waste off the mountain.

Must know to return when necessary

Once climbing, everyone wants to reach the top, but this is not certain. With Mr. Khai, before every trip, he prepares himself mentally for not being able to reach the top and may have to come back.

“There are many climbers who have the opinion that one is to reach the top, the other to die. To me, this is a very wrong and dangerous concept. A climber must know when to advance when to turn back. I have been many times. back, maybe only about 45 minutes from the top,” he said.

And one of them is the Everest trip in 2019. When climbing to an altitude of 8,100 m, he realized the warning of his body when moving slowly, his eyes were red and his limbs were numb. Although he nostalgic for his efforts to reach Everest for a year and dreamed of standing at the top, he still decided to return to Station IV, knowing that he would not be able to return safely if he tried to go up.

The opportunity to reach the top for the second time came to him overnight. But one of his companions has health problems and is almost certain to die, while another is stuck outside. So he decided not to go to the top anymore and told his sherpa to save them. These people were later saved by his sherpa and several others.

After 2 years, he returned again and successfully conquered Everest. For him, this is the most difficult and unforgettable journey because he and sherpa are among the few people in the world to see the sunset from Mount Everest. On the night of the 12th lunar month, the moon is bright and in the distance, a storm is about to land with lightning on the horizon, Everest and the surrounding mountains are mysterious and spectacular.

To climb mountains, especially Everest, it is necessary to have good health, endurance, and no respiratory or cardiovascular problems. Because during the journey, climbers will face health problems such as altitude syndrome, persistent dry cough, cramps due to lack of nutrients when climbing for a long time. But for him, what matters to a climber is great willpower. At some point, an only determination will push your body to a new limit that you normally thought would never be reached.

For him, the success of climbing 7 mountains is an important milestone in his life, although talking about conquest, he admits that he can only conquer the challenge set and overcome his limit. “The world is big, there are many places I want to go to push the limit further,” he said. He said that in the near future when the Covid-19 epidemic is well controlled, he will return to Vietnam and in the plan, there will also be many places he wants to visit such as Son Doong or Truong Sa and Hoang Sa. Follow vnexpress