A Franco-Scottish teenager aims to become the youngest person ever to climb the 14 highest peaks in the world.
Alasdair McKenzie, who turned 19 in June, has so far scaled 10 of the 14 mountains above 8,000 metres, and is hoping to tick the last four off his list by November.
The record currently belongs to Mingma Gyabu ‘David’ Sherpa, from Nepal, who completed the achievement at the age of 30.
‘I missed the mountains’
Alasdair is already the youngest person to climb Lhotse and the youngest to climb the five highest peaks – though the Guinness Book of Records still needs to verify the latter, he says.
“I want to show to young people that everything is possible if you work for it,” said Alasdair, who was born in Lorient (Brittany) to a French mother and Scottish father.
The family later moved to Chamonix (Haute-Savoie). “Skiing and mountains are a passion of the family,” he said.
Alasdair eventually moved to Tignes, where he was part of a ski club until he decided something was missing.
“I was missing the mountains. I was not there every day as I was training all the time.”
Still going to school, remotely
He began his project when he was 17, scaling two 8,000m+ peaks in 2022, and eight so far this year.
Earlier this year, aged 18, he climbed Everest. During that time, he has been following school classes remotely.
“It’s easy to have motivation when you do what you love and have the opportunity to travel so much to try to finish your project,” he said.
When he spoke to The Connexion, he had just returned from Pakistan after conquering four peaks between July 17 and 28, including K2, the second highest mountain in the world, and without the use of helicopters, contrary to the increasingly common practice.
“The most challenging part is the lack of sleep,” he said, adding that he has sometimes climbed for 17 hours to reach a summit.
He is accompanied by a sherpa, but says: “I didn’t want to do like everybody does and give them everything.
“He will carry more as he is stronger than me, but I will carry my things.”
If he achieves his goal, it is just the start
He is planning to travel to Tibet in September for the final stage. The trips are funded by sponsors.
If he achieves his goal, it will just be the start. He eventually hopes to undertake the three-year training course to become a mountaineering guide and share his passion with others.
“I’m taking it one project at a time. Once I finish this, I’ll run for the next one.”
In the meantime, there is the small matter of the bac, which Alasdair has been allowed to complete over two years, meaning he should graduate next summer.