The Seven Summits




The Seven Summits

The Seven Summits

The Seven Summits refers to the highest peak on each of the seven continents. Climbing all of these summits is considered a significant mountaineering challenge and accomplishment. 

The peaks in order of elevation above sea level:

Mount Everest (Asia): The tallest mountain in the world, standing at 8,848 meters (29,029 feet), is located in the Himalayas on the border between Nepal and Tibet (China). Climbing Everest is a formidable challenge due to its extreme altitude, unpredictable weather, and technical difficulties.

Aconcagua (South America): Aconcagua is the highest peak in South America, reaching 6,960 meters (22,837 feet). It’s in the Andes mountains in Argentina. Not as technically demanding as Everest, it presents challenges due to its altitude.

Denali (North America): Also known as Mt. McKinley, Denali is the highest mountain in North America, with an elevation of 6,190 meters (20,310 feet). It’s located in Alaska, USA. Climbing Denali involves severe cold, high altitude, and extreme weather conditions.

Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa): Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa, standing at 5,895 meters (19,341 feet). It is a free-standing volcanic mountain located in Tanzania. Climbing Kilimanjaro does not require technical mountaineering skills but presents challenges due to altitude.

Mount Elbrus (Europe): Mount Elbrus is the highest mountain in Europe, with an elevation of 5,642 meters (18,510 feet). It is part of the Caucasus mountain range in Russia. Climbing Elbrus involves high altitude and potentially severe weather conditions.

Vinson Massif (Antarctica): The highest peak in Antarctica, Vinson Massif, reaches 4,892 meters (16,050 feet). It is located in the remote and harsh environment of the Antarctic continent. Climbing Vinson Massif involves extreme cold and logistical challenges.

Puncak Jaya (Oceania): Also known as Carstensz Pyramid, Puncak Jaya is the highest peak in Oceania, with an elevation of 4,884 meters (16,024 feet). It is situated in Papua Province, Indonesia, on the island of New Guinea. Climbing Puncak Jaya involves technical rock climbing skills.

Climbers who attempt the Seven Summits face a range of challenges, including extreme altitudes, varying weather conditions, and different climbing techniques.

Where to begin:

The best place to start is Kilimanjaro. Follow this with a week of basic training in the Cascade Range, Washington (USA). Learn about gear (ie. crampons), self-arrest (digging in with an ice ax or trekking pole to stop sliding down a snowy incline), crevasse rescue and glacier trekking skills.

Next, head to either Aconcaqua or Elbrus. The first is higher, but the latter is more technical. You need to be fit, and skilled in ice and snow. You choose.

Then, Denali. It’s dangerous, the weather needs to be on your side, and your mountaineering skills will be tested.

The biggest challenge of Mt. Vinson is the expense of getting to Antarctica. Altitude won’t be in issue, but hanging on through cold, wind and glacier trekking will be.

Then it’s on to Puncak Jaya. Here, you’ll need rock climbing skills for some technical sections. It’s a short, steep climb requiring rappelling and jumar ascending. You can now skip the challenging week-long trek to the mountain as a helicopter can drop you at base camp.

And finally, Everest. Extreme altitude and changing weather make it worthwhile to arrange sherpa support, and you can never have too much bottled oxygen.

*Climbers trying to set speed records usually start with Everest and work their way through the list in the opposite direction.

An estimated cost per mountain for all-inclusive guide led trips:

Kilimanjaro - $5,500

Aconcagua - $7,000

Elbrus - $4,800

Denali - $10,000

Vinson - $44,000

Puncak Jaya - $23,500

Everest - $67,500

A 10 day mountaineering course - $4,000

Additionally, you’ll need climbing gear, suitable clothing, insurance and flights. This can be another $10,000 and $30,000.

Top climbers of the Seven Summits:

While numerous accomplished climbers have completed the Seven Summits, there isn't an official ranking system for climbers in this category. Success in the Seven Summits challenge depends on climbing skill, determination, resources, and opportunities. 

Here are a few climbers who have gained recognition for their achievements in completing the Seven Summits:

World Speed Record: Set by Steve Plain. On May 14, 2018, he reached all 7 peaks in 117 days 6 hrs 50 min. at the summit of Mt. Everest.

Patricia Deavoll: Patricia Deavoll, a New Zealand mountaineer, is known for being one of the few women to complete the Seven Summits.

Richard Bass: Richard Bass, an American businessman and mountaineer, is credited with popularizing the Seven Summits challenge. He completed the challenge in 1985 when he was in his 50s, making him one of the early pioneers.

David Hempleman-Adams: A British adventurer who has completed the Seven Summits, is well-known for his achievements in mountaineering and aviation.

Pat Morrow: A Canadian mountaineer and filmmaker, he’s another climber who has completed the Seven Summits. He’s known for his contributions to the world of adventure filmmaking.

Dick Doyle: An American mountaineer, is recognized for completing the Seven Summits. He has also been involved in promoting environmental awareness through his climbs.

Jordi Tosas: A Spanish mountaineer, he has completed the Seven Summits and is known for his accomplishments in high-altitude climbing.

Frank Giustra: Canadian businessman and philanthropist, Frank Giustra has successfully completed the Seven Summits challenge.

Many other climbers have achieved the Seven Summits, and recognition varies depending on the climbing community and the specific criteria used to evaluate their accomplishments, and new climbers take on the challenge each year, adding to the list of those who have completed it.

It's a prestigious achievement, requiring dedication, physical fitness, and significant financial resources. Climbers typically spend years planning, training, and executing their climbs to reach these iconic peaks.

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