50 Summits

50 countries, 48 summits, 1 goal: clean up the mountains
Sunrise over mountains


In 2019 I have embarked on a new adventure.
The goal?

Summiting solo and unassisted each European country’s highest summit and raise awareness on the increase of mountain pollution.

The road will be paved with leafs on tops such as Holland’s Vaalserberg highest point of 321m, but also with unknown routes for Liechtenstein 2’599m Grauspitz, treacherous glacier on Switzerland’s 4’634m Dufourspitze, lack of oxygen on Europe highest peak 5’642m Mt Elbrus, or white void on Iceland’s Hvannadalshnukur volcano.

Challenge completed

On Saturday August the 17th of 2019, at 8:49am, I set foot on the Mont-Blanc, the last of the highest point from the list I had to climb. The entire range of summits have been climbed in a record time of 177 days, and always solo under a pure alpin style.


Video Presentation

So what’s the plan in detail?

This is a purely solo adventure (no guides, no rope-partner, no cook, no external help)

This journey is fully self-financed (no financial help, no sponsor, no one but myself to replace a $300 ice-axe if it gets damaged).

The summits

There are 50 countries (including sovereign nation) part of the European continent as defined by the historical and cultural rule: Europe is separated from Asia by the Ural Mountains, the Ural River, the Caucasus Mountains, in south east by the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea.
50 countries for 48 summits, since France and Italy share Mont Blanc, and Albania shares Mt Korab with Macedonia.
Note: Only countries or sovereign states are part of the list. This explains for example the presence of Monaco (a sovereign city-state), and not the Island of Jersey (a crown dependency).

Satellite view of Europe
Satellite view of Europe

For countries on the border, such as Russia, Georgia or Azerbaijan, their highest peaks are still considered to be in Europe. For Turkey, the highest peak being in Asia, the highest European peak has been selected instead.
Cyprus being part of the European Union has also been included in the list despite being technically in the Middle-East.
Also to be noted: although a small part of Kazakstan is technically within Europe, there are no recorded high point on that flat part of land.

Update from the 7th of August 2019

After careful consideration, the summits of Azerbaijan and Georgia are no longer part of the list, their respective high point being definitely in Asia.
The project changes to 48 summits for 50 countries.

The environment

Hiking and mountaineering aside, the purpose of this journey is also to raise awareness on our mountains’ increased pollution.
Everyday on any given mountain, climbers or hikers, skiers or mountain bikers, tourists or locals, decide to leave their trash on site rather than carrying it back down.
This problem hits every country and every mountain.
As an example, Mt Everest popularity as transformed it in a gigantic slope of filth. Every summer, it is more than 5,500kg of human waste and twice that amount of trash that is left on the Everest.
In ski resorts, it’s 30,000 cigarette buds (those are NOT biodegradable) that can be found under just ONE chairlift.

As I was trekking Iceland, during my “Iceland from South to North in 14 days” adventure, I came across a white plastic bag filled with trash that had been hidden under a rock.
Despite being loaded with 35kg of my own gear, I picked up the bag and brought it with me until I reached a hut.
The idea that people can’t carry their own trash is just absurd to me. I’ve always taken care of my trash, regardless of if I was hiking, walking, cycling, or even driving.
I then met a girl in the US that pushed me a step further: I now always hike with a trash bag so I can pick up the trash I find on trails.

Cleaning rivers 1 tire at a time

I’m undertaking this challenge to raise funds that will be fully donated to non-profits that are dedicated to mountain cleaning and enhancing awareness on the consequences of leaving trash behind through educational activities.

“So what can I do to help?”
I will set up a crowdfunding page where you, friends, family, people, will be invited to donate money (any amount is welcomed) for that non-profit organization. Every cent of the donated money will go to the non-profit organization.
By undertaking this 50 summit challenge I hope to get enough attention to raise an impactful amount of money.

This trip’s motto is simple:
Mountains are for everyone, except assholes. (For a non-censored version: Mountains are for everyone, except those who don’t respect it).

This trip’s motto is simple:
Mountains are for everyone, except assholes.
(For a non-censored version: Mountains are for everyone, except those who don’t respect it).

Green on all levels

“That’s great, but what about your own impact?”
You’re absolutely right! The biggest issue with such a project is transportation, and unfortunately there are still no ways yet to quickly travel without CO2 emissions.
So to compensate with the emissions necessary to complete my journey, I will thoroughly calculate the carbon footprint of my travels, followed by a donation to a reforestation project of twice the amount necessary to offset my CO2 emission.

The Man

In addition to the summary located on the left side of this page, most information about me can be found on ABOUT THE AUTHOR page.

If you’re too lazy, here’s a small recap:
I’m from nowhere and anywhere. Born in a mountain lover family, I was raised in 8 different countries. I am always on the lookout, always looking for new challenges. I climbed Mont Blanc at age 18. I dream about going to Antartica. The highest point I’ve been to is the Huayna Potosi at 6’088m. I like to undertake solo adventures. I care enough about the environment to volunteer in cleaning days organized by non-profits, reduce my meat consumption, compost, and believe in permaculture. I am not a purist as I believe everyone can access the mountains as long as they respect it.

The intended travel plan

The 50 summits travel plan
The 50 summits travel plan

Travel is subject to visa and permit approvals, as well as weather forecast

Progress made

Updated on: August 17th 2019

Currently: 48 out of 48 summits done. Challenge over.


Alba. + Maced.

Mt Korab
– 2764m


Andorra

Coma Pedrosa
– 2942m


Austria

Grossglockner
– 3798m


Azerbaijan

Bazarduzu
– 4466m


Belarus

Dzyarzhynshaya
– 345m


Belgium

Signal de Botrange
– 694m


Bosnia & Hezerg

Maglic
– 2387m


Bulgaria

Musala
– 2925m


Croatia

Dinara
– 1831m


Cyprus

Mt Olympus
– 1951m


Czech Republic

Snezka
– 1602m


Denmark

Mollehoj
– 170m


England

Scafell Pike
– 978m


Estonia

Suur Munamagi
– 318m


Finland

Halti
– 1325m


France + Italy

Mt Blanc
– 4810m


Germany

Zugspitze
– 2962m


Georgia

Mount Shkhara
– 5068m


Greece

Mt Olympus
– 2917m


Hungary

Kékes
– 1014m


Iceland

Hvannadalshnukur
– 2111m


Ireland

Carrauntoohil
– 1041m


Kosovo

Djeravica
– 2656m


Latvia

Gaizinkalns
– 312m


Liechtenstein

Grauspitz
– 2599m


Lithuania

Aukstojas
– 294m


Luxembourg

Buurgplatz
– 559m


Malta

Ta’ Dmejrek
– 253m


Moldova

Mt Balanesti
– 430m


Monaco

Chemin des Revoires
– 162m


Montenegro

Maja Kolata
– 2534m


Netherlands

Vaalserberg
– 321m


North Ireland

Slieve Donard
– 852m


Norway

Galdhoppiggen
– 2469m


Poland

Rysy
– 2500m


Portugal

La Torre
– 1993m


Romania

Moldoveanu
– 2544m


Russia

Mt Elbrus
– 5642m


San Marino

Mt Titano
– 739m


Scotland

Ben Nevis
– 1343m


Serbia

Midzor
– 2169m


Slovakia

Gerlachovsky
– 2654m


Slovenia

Triglav
– 2864m


Spain

Mulhacen
– 3478m


Sweden

Kebnekaise
– 2111m


Switzerland

Dufourspitze
– 4634m


Turkey

Mahya Dagi
– 1030m


Ukraine

Goverla
– 2061m


Vatican City

St Peter’s dome
– 132m


Wales

Snowdon
– 1085m

4 comments on “50 Summits

  1. Bravo mister. Merci pour l’exemple pour l’environnement, le courage et le plaisir…de ces belles montagnes qui nous laisse leur grimper sur le dos parfois.

    Dommage que nous n’entendions parler du projet que sur la fin.

    Fais signe quand tu viens vers Vallorcine

  2. Il faudrait bcq de gens comme vous pour faire bouger les choses..bcq de personnalité ,bcq de courage, ça c’est sur.Merci à vous et bon vent pour d’autres défis,
    .je vous suivrais dorénavant sur internet.

  3. Salut Benji, j’ai pris connaissance de ton initiative que récemment. Je trouve ce projet superbe, bravo à toi pour le côté alpi/montagne en solo et le message véhiculé.

    J’ai transmis ta vidéo à Raj Sth , un jeune Népalais qui a créé une belle initiative au Népal “lets clean up Népal” (tu peux le voir sur Fb)
    Il essaye de s’inspirer et de développer des initiatives pour ramasser les déchets et surtout véhiculer les bons messages pour les locaux et touristes.. Je trouve intéressant de partager les initiatives des uns et des autres, plus on communique plus on créera une bonne dynamique !

    Des projets vont aussi naître dans nos Pyrénées, je n’hésiterai pas à te contacter !

    Belle aventure !

    Céline

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