Seven Summits

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 on the Australian mainland is Mount Kosciuszko (2,228 m),. However, the highest mountain on both the Australian continent and the more broadly-defined continent of Oceania is Puncak Jaya (4,884 m [A higher elevation of 5,030 m still appears on some maps and sites, but is accepted by neither Indonesia nor the mountaineering community, nor is it supported by modern surveys. High resolution IFSAR data supplied by [ Intermap] shows no cell higher than 4,863 m. See also [ Australian Universities' Expedition] (section 2, page 4).] ), in the Indonesian province of Papua on the island of New Guinea which lies on the Australian continental shelf. Puncak Jaya is also known as Carstensz Pyramid.

Some sources claim Mount Wilhelm, 4,509 metres, as the highest mountain peak in Oceania, due to Indonesia being part of Asia. [ [ Statistical Yearbook of Croatia, 2007] The peak belongs to the Bismarck Range 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 Asia and Oceania.


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. [Cite web |url= |title=The Seven Summits |]

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.'

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.)


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 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 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 [Cite web |url= |title=History of Seven Summits|] . 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) [Cite web |url=|title=Czech climber tops seven summits|publisher=The Prague Post] . Between 2002 and 2007, Austrian climber Christian Stangl completed the Seven Summits (Messner list), climbing alone and without oxygen, and reported a record total ascent time from respective base camp to summit of 58 hours and 45 minutes. [ 58 Stunden, 45 Minuten] , "Süddeutsche Zeitung", 10 December 2007. de icon] [ [ Fastest Everest climber eats 3, 6000m peaks in 16 hours] ,, 9 November 2006]

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 world record for completion of the Messner and Bass list is 136 days [Cite web |url= |title=Facts & figures of all 7 summiteers |] , by Danish climber Henrik Kristiansen(43) in 2008. Kristiansen completed the summits in the following order: Vinson on Jan 21th, Aconcagua on Feb 6, Kosciuszko on Feb 13, Kilimanjaro on Mar 1, Carstenz Pyramid on Mar 14, Elbrus on May 8, Everest on May 25, spending just 22 days on the mountain (normally, expeditions take up to 2 months acclimatizing, laying ropes etc...) and finally Denali on June 5, beating Irish Ian McKeevers' previous record by 20 days. [ [ Henrik Kristiansen completes the 7 (8) summits challenge - new world speed record set ] ] [Cite news |url= |title=Canadian man climbs highest mountains on seven continents in 187 days |publisher=CBC |date=2006-11-28] The shortest time span set by a woman is 360 days, set by Britain's Annabelle Bond in 2005. [ [ Everest Summiter Annabelle Bond has completed the Seven Summits!!!! WORLD RECORDS TUMBLE ] ]

In October 2006 Kit Deslauriers became the first person to have skied down all seven peaks (Kosciuszko list). [Cite web |url= | title=Kit Deslauriers Ski Mountaineering Highlights] 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. [Cite web |url= |]

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 (Bass list). In August 2007 she also climbed the Carstensz Pyramid.

On May 24, 2008, Cheryl Bart and her 23-year-old daughter Nikki became the first mother-daughter team to climb the Seven Summits. [ [,23599,23750154-2,00.html Mom and Daughter climb Everest] ] The entire ascent is detailed on their [ website] .

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.Fact|date=February 2007

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.'


*cite book
last = Bell
first = Steve
coauthors = et al.
title = Seven Summits
publisher = Mitchell Beazley
year = 2000
id = ISBN 9024606063

*cite book
last = Bass
first = Dick
coauthors = Frank Wells, Rick Ridgeway
title = Seven Summits
publisher = Warner Books
year = 1986
id = ISBN 0-446-51312-1

*cite book
last = Morrow
first = Patrick
title = Beyond Everest - Quest For the Seven Summits
publisher = Camden House
year = 1986
id = ISBN 0-920656-46-3

*cite book
last = Krakauer
first = Jon
title = Into thin Air
publisher = Villard
year = 1997
id = ISBN 0-385-49208-1

*cite web
publisher =
title=The Seven Summits

*cite web
publisher =
title=Statistics, Facts & figures of all 7summiteers!
Updated until March 2007, 198 summiteers.
*cite web
publisher =
title=Carstensz Pyramid, the Summit of Oceania


ee also

* Seven Second Summits
* Volcanic Seven Summits
* Three Poles Challenge
* Explorers Grand Slam, also known as The Adventurers Grand Slam
* Eight-thousander

External links

* [, voluminous information within commercial site]
* [ Mount Everest Info One Of The Seven Summits]
*3D Tour of Seven Summits [!480&tour=1&encType=1] in Virtual Earth

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