Shaking hands with tough


Helmet Linzbichler conquered Everest almost entirely without oxygen, then 36 hours later ran a marathon from Base Camp to another camp further down the mountain. He's run a marathon at geographic North Pole, flying in and landing on the ice, and another marathon on the coast of Antarctica.

But Mount Garibaldi is proving to be something of a challenge.

The Austrian climber and long distance athlete was in Whistler last week to meet with long-time friend and fellow mountaineer Karl Ricker, and make another attempt at the Garibaldi peak. It's the last volcanic peak on this part of the coast that he has not summitted, and he needs it for his collection.

But once again the weather defeated his plans (you need at least three sunny days in a row when there's this much snow) so he went sightseeing instead - and stopped by the Pique office to talk about his lifetime of accomplishments - a list that few people can match.

Here's a short list of Helmut Linzbichler's accomplishments over 40-plus years:

• In 2008, at the age of 66, he became the third-oldest man to climb Everest and the oldest European. He also lugged an official soccer ball to the summit and threw it off to promote the UEFA European Football Championship events taking place that year in Austria and Switzerland.

• In 2009 he visited Antarctica, where he scaled Mount Vinson and became the oldest man to summit the highest mountain on all seven continents. ("For about three months," he laughed. "That record didn't stand very long.")

• In 2007 he reached the summit of Puncak Jaya in New Guinea, the highest peak in Oceana - often considered one of the hardest of the Seven Summit climbs because the final part of the ascent is all rock and you have to physically haul yourself up a sheer face to reach the summit. As a side note, he wasn't planning on joining the expedition, but injured his shoulder while snowboarding in 2006 and started to get into climbing again during the recovery.)

• Linzbichler has climbed all but one of the volcanoes in the Cascades Range between British Columbia, Washington and Oregon, with the exception of Garibaldi (which is technically in the Coast Range anyway).

• He's five peaks away from climbing to the highest point of every country on the continent of Europe - some of which are off-limits for military reasons, like the highest point in Cypress. The rest of the mountains are in Bosnia-Herzigovina, Kazakhstan, Ben Nevis in Scotland and the cliffs of Dingli on Malta.

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