The final frontier is near for Stephen Koch, the Burton sponsored rider who has embarked on a quest to climb up and snowboard down the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. Today, April 16th, Koch will scale the sixth mountain on his Seven Summit Snowboarding Quest (SSSQ), with his ascent of Carstensz Pyramid, located in Irian Jaya, Indonesia.
Dubbed “Victory Peak” by native Indonesians, the 16,023-foot Carstensz Pyramid juts out of the western central highlands of Irian Jaya. It is the highest peak on the Oceana/Australiasia continent and, according to Koch is the most technical of the summits.
“This climb has less snow on it than any other of the summits. It will involve rock climbing at a fairly high standard to reach the summit.”
As Koch nears the end of his quest, he must prepare for one of the biggest challenges of his career. The final destination of his seven continent climb is the mother of all mountains, Mt. Everest. At 29,028 feet, Everest will undoubtedly be the most dangerous and most rewarding feat for Koch. If successful, he will be the first person to complete a snowboard descent from Everest’s summit.
The Seven Summit Snowboarding Quest began in 1993 with Koch’s successful ascent and snowboard decent of Aconcagua Mountain in Argentina.
“I got involved in the SSSQ as a natural progression to my life: to climb mountains and snowboard down them,” said Koch. “After success on many new routes in the Tetons, I wanted to travel to South America and try to snowboard Aconcagua. I was successful with Aconcagua and climbed Denali later in 1993.I knew that I could snowboard it and that is when I thought about the Seven Summits Snowbaording Quest.I did research to find out if these mountains were descendible and then set out on the Quest”.
Since then, Koch has conquered Europe’s Mt. Elbrus, North America’s Denali, Africa’s Kilimanjaro, and Antarctica’s Vinson Massif.
Stephen began climbing in Jackson, Wyoming’s Teton Range in 1987 as a means to access snowboard descents. His passion for snowboarding – and for climbing – quickly grew and now at 32 years of age, Koch has accomplished over 30 first descents, including being the first person to ski or snowboard down Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania