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The Seven Summits (The Summary) »

The Seven Summits are the highest mountain 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).

The desire to stand on the highest point on each of the seven continents has fired the imagination of climbing enthusiasts from around the globe. This amazing feat, known as the Seven Summits, demands much of the climber – traveling to remote and exotic corners of the world, scaling the heights of mountain giants such as Everest and McKinley, and overcoming extreme weather conditions and hostile environments for long periods over many years.

The two Seven Summits 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 / 7,310 ft), 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 Puncak Jaya, or Carstensz Pyramid (4,884 m / 16,024 ft). Neither the Bass nor the Messner list includes Mont Blanc. The Seven Summits include the following mountains: Everest (Asia), Aconcagua (South America), McKinley/Denali (North America), Kilimanjaro (Africa), Elbrus (Europe), Vinson (Antarctica), Kosciuszko (Australia) or Carstensz Pyramid (Messner list). I used the Bass list.

"Seven" Summits (sorted by Elevation)
Summit Elevation
Continent Range Country
Everest (Sagarmatha or Chomolungma) 8,848 29,029 Asia Himalaya Nepal, China
Aconcagua 6,962 22,841 South America Andes Argentina
Mount McKinley (Denali) 6,194 20,320 North America Alaska Range United States
Kilimanjaro (Volcano Kibo: Uhuru Peak) 5,892 19,340 Africa Kilimanjaro Tanzania
Elbrus (Minghi-Tau) 5,642 18,510 Europe Caucasus Russia
Vinson Massif 4,892 16,050 Antarctica Ellsworth Mountains claimed by Chile
Carstensz Pyramid (Puncak Jaya) 4,884 16,024 Australia-New Guinea Maoke Mountains Indonesia
Kosciuszko 2,228 7,310 Australia Great Dividing Range Australia


Richard Bass, a 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.

As of January 2012, only approximately 340 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.

I have successfully climbed six of the Seven Summits: Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, McKinley/Denali, Aconcagua, Vinson and Kosciuszko.


© 2011. Urs Bernhard. All Rights Resrved.

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