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Author Topic: 7 summiteer Shea travels to all countries in the world!  (Read 9598 times)


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Here is an article from Timesstar.com about 7summiteer Jeff Shea (see his details here on the stats pages) who traveled to all countries on the world...
Quest complete after 196 countries, 7 peaks
By Justin Jouvenal - STAFF WRITER
"Can I tell you about a country you've never heard of?" asks Jeff Shea as he pulls an unfamiliar bank note from a book in the basement of his home.
He holds up a yellow, palm-sized bill with a dapper, balding man from the 18th century pictured on the front. Russian script was printed across the back.

"This is the money of Transdniestria," he says.

Shea points to Eastern Europe on a world map on his basement wall to clear up the mystery. Trandsniestria is a breakaway province of Moldova that declared independence in the early 1990s, although it has not been recognized internationally.

The nation is bisected by one of dozens of red and black squiggly Magic Marker lines on the map showing where Shea has been. It's a fitting record of the Millbrae man's 30-year quest: to visit every nation in the world and climb the tallest peaks on each of the continents.  

Shea, 48, took a 26-month odyssey around the globe in 1984. He spent 42 days sailing to Hawaii with companions, even though he had never been on a sailboat before.

Later, he walked 200 miles from the city of Jaipur, India, to the Taj Mahal in Agra. Then, in a park in Nepal, he was nearly gored by a rhinoceros as he took its picture, but escaped without injury.

Back in Hawaii in 1993, he and a companion were photographing lava tubes on the main island. Shea saw the tube they were standing on was starting to crack and scrambled out of the way. His companion fell into a pool of lava and died when the tube collapsed.

In 1997, Shea set out to walk across Transylvania with only a compass to guide him. And in 1988 he bounced across the Sahara Desert on the back of a date truck.

In a world with few places left to explore, Shea seems like a relic of another age.

"It wasn't just going to every country," he says. "It was all about adventure. It was about being an adventurer." Or as his mother Marie Holland puts it, "he's got a romantic streak." Shea, who has a graduate degree in business, runs a successful company that makes fireproof ducts for buildings. He estimates he's spent $500,000 on traveling. He's endured malaria twice, typhoid and hepatitis. The vast majority of trips he took alone.

Shea completed his quest - 196 different nations - in April by visiting Belarus. Having visited every nation, Shea could be the ultimate tour guide. His advice to travelers: get off the beaten path.

He says his most moving travel experience was hiking around the highlands of New Guinea for more than a month in 1983. At one point, he traveled down a river on a raft made of logs lashed together with jungle vines.

One day, as he waited for a truck along a road in a small town called Koroba, an old man approached him. The man had four canes of sugar in a bundle, which he began to untie slowly before handing one to Shea.

"I realized in essence that was all he had," Shea says. "I started questioning my values. They had a system called `Wontak,' which means a person's status is not based on what he has, but what he has given away."

Shea met his wife Novita on a beach on the island of Ambon in Indonesia. She was selling cakes under the light of a lantern. Even though Shea didn't speak Indonesian, he managed to set up a date with Novita over the objections of her mother. Things blossomed from there. They now have a 2-year old daughter named Lani.

Shea is a member of the Traveler's Century Club, which is only open to people who have traveled to 100 or more countries. The club's chairman Klaus Billep says Shea is single-minded.

"He was so determined to travel to all the places," Billep says. "I told him you better have a million dollars and divorce your wife."

Shea began traveling when he was 18. He took a $1,000 inheritance from his grandfather and lit out for Mexico and Europe. He literally slept under bushes and lived on a $1-a-day food budget in Europe.

He climbed Kiliminjaro - the largest mountain in Africa at 19,340 feet - in 1984. That was followed by the other six highest peaks in the early and mid- '90s: Aconcagua in South America, McKinley in North America, Everest in Asia, Elbrus in Europe, Vinson in Antarctica and Kosciuszco in Australia.

He said scaling Everest was the most physically taxing experience of his life. "Put it this way," he says of the day he reached the summit. "If my life didn't depend on it, I wouldn't have gotten back that night."

Shea suffered extreme dehydration as he climbed down from the peak.

Sitting in his Point Richmond home, Shea says he's done with traveling for awhile. But then he quickly reverses his course.

"I will travel again, but not soon because there are other things I want to do," he says. "With that said, I'm going to bring my daughter to Europe this summer and King George Island in Antarctica this fall."

Shea sent an inquiry to the Guiness Book of World Records and learned that Lani would be the youngest person ever to travel to every continent after she completes the trips. Lani, who is 2 years and 5 months, will beat the old record set by a child of 3 years and 10 months. She is already following in her father's footsteps.

There's no word yet when she will take a crack at Everest.

"He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary." -- Friedrich Nietzsche


  • Guest
Re:7 summiteer Shea travels to all countries in the world!
« Reply #1 on: Oct 10 2003, 04:51 »

this guy is amazing, do you know what list of countries he followed when traveling to them "all"?
(because there are countless numbers of different lists).


  • Guest

"I realized in essence that was all he had," Shea says. "I started questioning my values. They had a system called `Wontak,' which means a person's status is not based on what he has, but what he has given away."

-- Yes, we learn all sorts of things in our lives, fit seems like learning kindness from other cultures who in essence who have dnothing, is sometimes the first time really see the value of it!


  • Guest

All 196 countries is a great acheivement, as is All 7 summits.

But you know what would be truly remarkable - All 196 Summits!!!  Can you imagine?


  • Guest
Re: 7 summiteer Shea travels to all countries in the world!
« Reply #4 on: Nov 10 2004, 05:52 »

look in the 'crazy plans' part of the forum. i think someone wrote a topic about it....

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