Karl Egloff, a Swiss-Ecuadorian prominent sportsman who specializes in high mountain speed tests, tells us about this passionate sport.
At what age did your love for the mountains began?
From a very young age, honestly, since I can remember. My father used to take me in his backpack when I was a baby, then we went to mid-mountain, and finally, at age sixteen, I accompanied him to climb Cotopaxi for the first time.
In which way do you feel the mountain has changed the way you see life?
Mountain and mountaineering have never been only an activity or sport for me, it is a lifestyle, my religion, and where I feel free. I clean myself from negative energies and recharge with new ones. Being on the mountain is a privilege.
How does your Andean and Alphine heritage coexist in you?
I have a very Swiss father, he spoke to us and transmitted his culture and language from a very young age. I feel that Switzerland is my second home but without a doubt my blood is Ecuadorian. Having a dual nationality and dual culture is a very good thing, it makes you bring out the best of both cultures and see things differently. I was also lucky enough to live in Switzerland for 8 years, but it was always clear that I wanted to live my life here, where I was born and raised. Now as a parent, I try to teach my son about his dual nationality in the same way with responsibility.
Tell us about the 7 summits project and the records you have managed to break
This started by a great coincidence in August 2014 at the Kilimanjaro, realizing the target achieved we considered trying the Aconcagua in 2015 and it was there where I decided to go for the 7 summits. In 2017 we accomplished the Elbrus and this year we set a new world record for ascending and descending the Denali, our fourth target of the 7 summits. The remaining summits after the Denali in Alaska were the Carsten Pyramid in Indonesia, the Vinsor in Antarctica and finally the Everest in Nepal/China. The project consists on breaking the record of the fastest ascension made in history, and in some mountains the descent also.
What drives you to move forward when you climb a mountain?
I used to do it to see the world, then to know my limits, now I do it for my family and all the people who motivate me to continue in a professional and dedicated manner to position Ecuador in this incredible sport of speed and mountaineering. When I can’t go any longer, I always have my son, his smile, his look in my mind, which drives me to continue, to show him that you have to be a fighter in order to make a difference in this life.
What has been the expedition you have enjoyed the most in Ecuador?
Plenty, I feel that there are amazing sites in Ecuador, not just in the Highlands but all over the country. My favorite places are the Antisana, Pasochoa and many other locations.
What do you like most about your work as a guide
To teach and see results, help to make dreams come true, be part of a challenge of achievement, and having the privilege of living the mountain in my everyday life.
Tell us about Cumbre Tours, how was this project born?
In 2013 I decided to become independent from another mountaineering operator in order to be able to deliver all my passion for this sport. Thanks to my wife and a wonderful team of colleagues we have a very responsible agency, showing to many people the wonderful things of Ecuador and the world, from the very beginners to the most experts. We have continuous departures, work with companies, I offer many motivational, structural talks, and manage accounts from Europe. We offer mountaineering and trekking worldwide.
Why do you think mountain tourism is important to Ecuador?
At first this was considered unstable, a niche, however over the years the flow of tourism became constant, national demand grew a lot, the mountain sport in Ecuador began to attract a lot of attention to our people as well. Undoubtedly the accessibility, the ease of our glaciers and the proximity make Ecuador the perfect destination to commence in this wonderful sport.
What do you think Ecuador´s tourism future should be?
Ecuador is on the right track, the only thing that is neglected is the conservation in certain national parks, the dreadful flow of people on holidays, the lack of culture of many visitors who leave garbage, who hunt, etc. This has affected certain parks so there should be a fee to enter in order to take better care of them, have stricter regulations and thus guarantee permanent animal and natural life in our privileged ecosystem. We are privileged to have such a close and diverse country with many ecosystems.
Thank you, Karl, for sharing your experience with us, we wish you the best!