Approximately 4,400 climbers have attempted to conquer Mount Everest, the world's tallest peak, and about 660 have been successful, 142 have actually died, and one, Gabriel Viti, has celebrated with a cigar on the summit.
When Viti, chef and owner of Gabriel's Restaurant in Chicago as well as a longtime brother of the leaf, reached the top of the world on the morning of May 22, he removed his glove, pulled out a Cohiba robusto and stuck it in his mouth, but could not smoke it.
"It's impossible to light up because the air is so thin," said Viti. "I don't even know how you would light it."
Though a victory smoke would have been the perfect reward for all of Viti's hard work, the view, he said, was enough, especially since your 29,028 feet above sea level—or roughly 5.5 miles.
Viti said he trained for three years in preparation for climbing Everest, scaling peaks like Mont Blanc in the French-Italian Alps. Viti also ran triathlons, including one that took place on the Great Wall of China.
The chef plans to keep going, as he is traveling in the next month or so to Denali National Park in Alaska to climb Mount McKinley, and then on to Mount Elbrus in Russia.
"I imagine I'll be bring cigars, too," said Viti with a chuckle.
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