First woman to climb world’s 14 major peaks without backup oxygen

Another record has been set in the world of extreme sports as Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, a 40-year-old Austrian woman from Germany, summited 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks without carrying backup oxygen.

Supported by grants from the National Geographic Society, Kaltenbrunner was one of four climbers who reached the summit of K2, the world’s second highest mountain at 8,611 meters high. The conditions had been rough, and the threat of avalanches had been too high for many of the climbers, including Kaltenbrunner’s husband, to continue. Despite having to trudge through waist-deep snow and battle aggressive windstorms, Kaltenbrunner continued on to success.

Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner began climbing mountains as a child. When she was 23, she realized she wanted nothing more than to climb an 8,000-meter peak. The then nurse saved her earnings for climbing expeditions and in 2003 became a full-time mountaineer.

In her blog, she writes, “…The burden of the last days were lifted off my shoulders – we had made it. My life’s dream has come true…”