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Seven Summits.

Posted by himalman On 6/01/2009 08:47:00 am

The Seven Summits are the highest mountains of each of the seven continents. Summiting all of them is regarded as a mountaineering challenge, first postulated as such in the 1980s by Richard Bass (Bass et al 1986).


Seven Summits definitions

Due to different interpretations of continental borders (geographical, geological, geopolitical) several definitions for the highest summits per continent and the number of continents are possible. The Seven Summits number of seven continents is based on the continent model used in Western Europe and the United States.


The highest mountain of the Australian mainland is Mount Kosciuszko (2,228 m), but is actually smaller than the highest mountain in New Zealand, Mount Cook (3,754 m). The highest mountain in Oceania is Puncak Jaya, 4,884 m[1], on the island of New Guinea. It is also known as Carstensz Pyramid.

Some sources claim Mount Wilhelm, 4,509 metres, as the highest mountain peak in Oceania.[2] The peak belongs to the Bismarck Range of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea. But a Seven Summits list including Mount Wilhelm has never been widely supported or formally recognised; Indonesia is generally considered to span two continents.


In Europe, the generally accepted highest summit is Mount Elbrus (5,642 m) in the Caucasus. This is the accepted summit when the Caucasus mountains are included within Europe’s boundaries. The issue is disputed, with some people considering Mont Blanc (4,808 m) to be Europe’s highest mountain.

The Bass and Messner lists

The first Seven Summits list as postulated by Bass (The Bass or Kosciusko list) chose the highest mountain of mainland Australia, Mount Kosciuszko (2,228 m), to represent the Australian continent’s highest summit. Reinhold Messner postulated another list (the Messner or Carstensz list) replacing Mount Kosciuszko with New Guinea’s Carstensz Pyramid (4,884 m). Neither the Bass nor the Messner list includes Mont Blanc. From a mountaineering point of view the Messner list is the more challenging one. Climbing Carstensz Pyramid has the character of an expedition, whereas the ascent of Kosciuszko is an easy hike. Indeed, Pat Morrow used this argument to defend his choice to adhere to the Messner list. ‘Being a climber first and a collector second, I felt strongly that Carstensz Pyramid, the highest mountain in Australasia … was a true mountaineer’s objective.’

“Seven” Summits (sorted by continent)
“Bass” “Messner” Summit Elevation m Continent Range Country
X X Kilimanjaro (Kibo Summit) 5,895 Africa Kilimanjaro Tanzania
X X Vinson Massif 4,892 Antarctica Ellsworth Mountains claimed by Chile
Kosciuszko 2,228 Australia Great Dividing Range Australia

X Carstensz Pyramid (Puncak Jaya) 4,884 Australia-New Guinea Maoke Mountains Indonesia
X X Everest 8,848 Asia Himalaya Nepal, China
X X Elbrus 5,642 Europe Caucasus Russia
X X Denali (Mount McKinley) 6,194 North America Alaska Range United States
X X Aconcagua 6,962 South America Andes Argentina

Mountaineering challenge

The mountaineering challenge to climb the Seven Summits is traditionally based on either the Bass or the Messner list. (It is assumed that most of the mountaineers who have completed the Seven Summits would have climbed Mont Blanc as well.) [3]


Richard Bass, an American businessman and amateur mountaineer, set himself the goal of climbing the highest mountain on each of the seven continents, including mainland Australia. He hired David Breashears to guide him up Everest, the most difficult of his Seven, and completed his Everest summit on April 30, 1985. He then co-authored the book Seven Summits, which covered the undertaking (Bass et al 1986).

Reinhold Messner revised Bass’s list by substituting the Australia-New Guinea continent for mainland Australia. Pat Morrow first met Messner’s challenge, finishing with climbing Carstensz Pyramid on May 7, 1986, shortly followed by Messner himself climbing Vinson on December 3rd, 1986. Morrow has also been the first to complete all eight summits from both lists.

In 1990, Rob Hall and Gary Ball became the first to complete the Seven Summits in seven months. Using the Bass list, they started with Mount Everest on May 10, 1990, and finished with Vinson on December 12, 1990, hours before the seven-month deadline.

The first woman to complete the Bass and Messner lists was Junko Tabei finishing on July 28, 1992, by climbing Elbrus.

The first person to complete Seven Summits without the use of artificial oxygen on Mount Everest is Reinhold Messner[4]. Miroslav Caban is probably the only other climber (besides Messner) as of October 2005 to finish the project without artificial oxygen on Everest (finished in 2005 with Carstensz)[5].

As of March 2007, more than 198 climbers have climbed all seven of the peaks from either the Bass or the Messner list; about 30% of those have climbed all of the eight peaks required to complete both lists.

The shortest time span a person has made the seven ascents using Kosciuszko is 172 days.[6]

The world record for the Carstensz Pyramid list is 156 days, by Irish climber Ian McKeever(37) in 2007. McKeever completed the summits in the following order: Vinson on Jan 25th, Aconcagua on Feb 11, Kilimanjaro on Mar 3, Carstenz Pyramid on Mar 16, Everest on May 16 (spending just 25 days on the mountain), Elbrus on May 31 and finally Denali on June 30, beating Canadian Daniel Griffiths’ previous record by 31 days.[7][8] The shortest time span set by a woman is 360 days, set by Britain’s Annabelle Bond in 2005.[9]

In October 2006 Kit Deslauriers became the first person to have skied down all seven peaks (Kosciuszko list).[10] Three months later, in January 2007, Swedes Olof Sundström and Martin Letzter completed their Seven Summits skiing project by skiing down Carstensz Pyramid, thus becoming the first and only people to have skied both lists.[11]

On May 17, 2007, 18 year-old Samantha Larson from California became the youngest American to climb Mount Everest and also the youngest person to climb the Seven Summits.

Criticism of the Seven Summits challenge

Many mountain climbers, beyond these one hundred and ninety eight, aspire to complete the seven ascents of one or both of these lists, but the expense, the demands placed on fitness, the physical hardship and the dangers involved are often greater than imagined. Popularization of the Seven Summits has not been without its detractors, who argue that it tempts the ambitious but inexperienced into paying large sums to professional guides who promise the “seven”, and that the guides are therefore pressured to press on toward summits even to the detriment of their clients’ safety.[citation needed]

Alpinism author Jon Krakauer (1997) wrote in Into Thin Air that it would be a bigger challenge to climb the second-highest peak of each continent, known as the Seven Second Summits. This is especially true for Asia, as K2 (8,611 m) demands greater technical climbing skills than Everest (8,848 m), while altitude-related factors such as the thinness of the atmosphere, high winds and low temperatures remain much the same. Some of those completing the seven ascents are aware of the magnitude of the challenge. In 2000, in a foreword to Steve Bell et al., Seven Summits, Morrow opined with humility ‘[t]he only reason Reinhold [Messner] wasn’t the first person to complete the seven was that he was too busy gambolling up the 14 tallest mountains in the world.’

list of climbers who have reached the summits of the “Seven Summits“: Updated Everyday !


** see posts about Seven Summits :

- How Much Does it Cost to Climb the Seven Summits?

- Mount McKinley or Denali in Alaska. /Version english and polish/

- Climb Mt. Vinson - highest peak in Antarctica.

- Climb Aconcagua - one of the Seven Summits list. /Version english and polish/

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