Turk At The Summit

Tunç Fındık is the only Turkish mountain climber to have scaled seven peaks of over 8,000 meters. We asked him about his goal of 14 x 8000, a world record In mountain climbing.

Why 14 x 8000?

There are 14 mountains in the world that are more than 8,000 meters high. The height of these mountains, which lie in the China-Nepal-Pakistan triangle, ranges between 8,030 and 8,850 meters. Scaling all of them is tantamount to completing a mountain climbing Olympics. There are only 30 people in the world who have managed to complete that series. I’ve come half way. I want to be the first Turk to do it.

You last climbed K2, right? What it as difficult as it’s said to be?

Yes, K2 was a difficult climb. Together with Makalu and Kanchenjunga it was the most difficult of the 8,000-meter peaks I’ve scaled. It’s a difficult mountain, even not compareble to Everest. The weather and climbing conditions are unstable, and there’s a high risk of avalanches. From 5,200 meters to the summit, in other words at an altitude of almost 4 kilometers on up to 8,611 meters, the climb is made over steep rock and ice. K2 was my eighth 8,000 plus-meter mountain. On my first attempt in 2009 I was unable to reach the summit due to problems with the weather and my team. Of course, I didn’t go to K2 as an inexperienced mountain climber. Ever since 2008 no one has made the summit via the Abruzzi Spur (south ridge) of K2 that we climbed, and 11 also people lost their lives in that 2008 climb. On July 31, 22 of us made the summit at different times and came back down safe and sound.  It was a first in K2 history for so many people to make the summit on the same day.

What’s next?

In spring of 2013 there’s the 8,013-meter Shishapangma in Tibet and in the fall the 8,163-meter Manaslu peak in Nepal. Then in summer I have plans for a technical climb on rock and ice in the 6,000-meter mountains of Peru in South America.

When are you going to reach your 14th summit?

That’s something that depends on sponsors and support, of course, because  14 x 8000 is a costly marathon above all else. I scaled my first 8,000 plus meter summit in 2001. But I only decided to start the series of 14 after my third 8,000-meter peak in 2006. Six years later I’ve got eight of them. I think I’ve got a period of 4 to 5 years ahead of me for scaling those remaining six. You can’t climb more than two or three 8,000-meter peaks in a year, because doing a mountain of 8,000 meters takes two months at best. What’s more, seasonal conditions are also very important. You have to wait until spring, for example, to attempt the 8,000-meter-high mountains in the Nepal Himalayas. And in Pakistan you can only climb in summer.

What are the mountains that excite you in Turkey?

The Taurus, which are reminiscent of the European Alps, are one of the most interesting places for mountain climbers in Turkey. Dedegöl and the Aladağ mountains are the most popular points in this range, which attracts interest for its 4,000 plus meter summits and its broad faces, which are conducive to climbing. Up to now I’ve made the first climb on over 300 new routes in the Central and Western Taurus. My book, 50 Routes in the Aladağ Mountains, has been published in English translation and become a a major reference for world mountain climbers.