How about reaching the highest points of all countries of the world during my lifetime?
This modestly grand idea first popped into my head back in 1996, when we reached the highest point of Romania, Moldoveanu Peak. It was the third highest peak of a country in three years (before Romania there were Norway and Poland), and while sipping beer in the evening we came up with the idea to set foot upon the highest summit of all countries in the world. The idea was great but for me it really began to materialize in 2004, when after a long break I once again stood at the highest peak of a country. This time it was Slovenia.
By now I have attained the highest peaks of 82 countries. Year-by-year, it looks like this:
1990 – Estonia
1994 – Norway
1995 – Poland
1996 – Romania
1997 – Latvia
2004 – Slovenia
2005 – Finland, Sweden
2006 – Czech Republic, Germany, Russia, Hungary (plus Latvia and Poland for the second time)
2007 – Spain, Croatia, Bulgaria, Greece (plus Hungary for the second time)
2008 – UK, Ireland, Slovakia, Austria, France, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Serbia, Macedonia, Albania
2009 – Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Monaco, Vatican, Malta, San Marino, Portugal, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Italy, Switzerland (plus Hungary for the third time and France for the second time)
2010 – Island, Cyprus, Iran, Egypt
2011 – Mexico, Guatemala, Morocco, Lithuania, Japan, South Korea, Oman, Singapore
2012 – Australia, Malaysia
2013 – Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Tyrkey
2014 – El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Cuba
2015 – Argentina, Chile
2017 – Vietnam, Hongkong, Thailand, Cambodia, Bahrein
2018 – Cabo Verde, Uruguay, Paraguay
2019 - Israel, Jordania, Armenia
2020 - Swaziland, South African Republic
According to my list, there are 198 countries in the world after South Sudan gained its independence in 9th of July 2011 and I still have 116 peaks to reach. If I wanted to say on my 60th anniversary that I have been to all of them, I’d have to reach the highest peaks of an average of 7 countries every year. Sounds nice. And realistic.
By the way, I’m not creating illusions that I’ll definitely be able to pull this off. I know that the list includes 3 of the absolute highest peaks in the world (Everest, K2 and Kangchenjunga), the world’s highest unclimbed mountain (Gangkhar Puensum – 7570m, the highest summit of Bhutan) and such awe-inspiring mountains as Naušak in Afghanistan, Pobeda in Kyrgyzstan, Khan-Tengri in Kazakhstan, Denali in Alaska, Šhara in Georgia, Mount Cook in New Zealand and Puncak Jaya in Indonesia. And quite a few more.
And I know that it’s difficult to get into some countries, and from some countries it may be tricky to get out. And in some other countries, instead of getting lunch you may become someone’s lunch.
And yet – even if I don’t make it to all of these summits, I hope to set foot on each country of the world. And this motivates me too. Honestly.