Chinese becomes second person to achieve mountaineering 'Grand Slam'
Updated 22:23, 23-Jul-2018
Non-professional Chinese mountaineer Zhang Liang achieved the Explorers Grand Slam (also known as "14+7+2") on June 8, 2018 by topping Denali, the highest peak in North America. This made him the first Chinese and the second in the world, after the late South Korean explorer Park Joung-seok, to achieve such a magnificent feat. Park accomplished the same expeditions in 2005 but went missing whilst climbing Annapurna in Nepal in 2011.
Zhang Liang /VCG Photo

Zhang Liang /VCG Photo

Zhang Liang grew up in the North China Plain, he worked in the south coast, but soon realized his dream lay elsewhere. In 1986, Zhang started his career as a bank clerk in the Agricultural Bank of China in south China city Shenzhen. And up to now, he’s still working there. In the 1990s, China’s outdoor exploration activities sprang up in this city, and Zhang launched his first mountaineering attempt on Yuzhu Peak (6,178 m), in northwestern Qinghai Province in 2000, after being inspired by some non-professional climbers’ success at that time.
Apart from the world's highest peak, 8,848-meter-high  Mount Qomolangma, there are thirteen more peaks in the world that are more than 8,000 meters above sea level, located in the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges in Asia, mostly in China's southwestern border region or across the border between China and Nepal and Pakistan.
Wang Shi /VCG Photo

Wang Shi /VCG Photo

By climbing mountains, Zhang Liang got acquainted with Wang Shi, a Chinese famous estate entrepreneur and mountaineer. It was at the moment that the latter introduced him to the fourteen-mountains existence during their climbing of Manaslu in 2009, Zhang got the idea of conquering all of them.
Chronicles of Zhang Liang's summit of the 14 eight-thousanders:
Sept, 2004 - Cho Oyu - 8201 m - 6th
May, 2005 - Everest - 8848 m -1st
Oct, 2008 - Shishapangma - 8,027 m - 14th
Sept, 2009 - Manaslu - 8,163 m - 8th
May, 2010 - Dhaulagiri - 8,167 m - 7th
May, 2011 - Lhotse - 8,516 m - 4th
May, 2012 - Makalu - 8485 m - 5th
July, 2012 - Broad Peak - 8051 m - 12th
May, 2013 - Kangchenjunga - 8586 m - 3rd
July, 2014 - Gasherbrum II - 8035 m - 13th
March, 2015 - Annapurna I - 8091 m - 10th
Aug, 2016 - Gasherbrum I - 8080 m - 11th
July, 2017 - K2 (Chhogori) - 8611 m - 2nd
Oct, 2017 - Nanga Parbat - 8126 m - 9th
Zhang Liang with China's national flag on the summit of Makalu, May 11, 2012 /VCG Photo

Zhang Liang with China's national flag on the summit of Makalu, May 11, 2012 /VCG Photo

But just staying in Asia could not satisfy the ambition of a world-class explorer. Zhang Liang would also like to make his top of head be the highest point for every continent.
Chronicles of Zhang Liang's summit of 7 continents' highest mountains:
May, 2005 - Everest - 8848 m - Asia
Oct, 2013 - Kilimanjaro - 5,895 m - Africa
Dec, 2015 - Aconcagua - 6,960.8 m - South America
Sept, 2016 - Elbrus - 5,642 m - Europe
Jan, 2017 - Vinson Massif - 4,892 m - Antarctica
March, 2017 - Puncak Jaya - 4,884 m - Australia
June, 2018 - Denali - 6190 m - North America
Liu Yongzhong and Zhang Liang in the process of climbing Makalu /VCG Photo

Liu Yongzhong and Zhang Liang in the process of climbing Makalu /VCG Photo

The two Poles have also attracted Zhang Liang’s heart. He arrived at the South Pole by walking 120 km for 7 days in December, 2005, and arrived at the North Pole by walking more than 600 km for 20 days in May, 2008.
Mountaineering is a dangerous sport because of its uncertainties, such as bearing the extreme cold weather and the low oxygen environment.
According to the China Mountaineering Association, in 2017, 67 people lost their life in outdoor sports. In Zhang Liang’s exploring career, he has also had brushes with death several times. But this lucky man never forced himself to achieve his aim in an urgent situation, even if the summit was close to him, because he knew that keeping alive was the only way to attain the end point after watching some of his teammates lose their life with the obsession of topping the summit. 
The scare made him prudent, but also gave him courage. 18 years passed by, before Zhang finally made his dream come true.
Zhang Liang at the foot of Mount Everest /VCG Photo

Zhang Liang at the foot of Mount Everest /VCG Photo

Zhang Liang’s exploits remind us of another ancient Chinese explorer called Xu Xiake of the Ming Dynasty, who traveled a lot in China alone and wrote a geographical masterpiece called "The Travel Diaries." 
In his daily life, Zhang loves playing with his pet dog and playing the guitar. All of his colleagues say he’s an easygoing and hardworking man.
At over 50 years of age, Zhang still keeps a good figure, and that is the result of his long-time non-stop sporting experiences. His next objective is to make a circumnavigation.