The 7 Summits are the highest point on each of the seven continents around the world. It is a goal for climbers around the world and at least 350 people had successfully completed the 7 Summits by 2012 with at least 50 of them being women. About 30% of the 7 summiteers have climbed both the Australia’s Kosciuszko (2228m) and New Guinea’s Carstensz Pyramid, aka Puncak Jaya (4884m) located on the Oceania continent.
Dick Bass the first 7 Summitteer, choose Australia as one of the 7 continents and Kosciuszko as its mainland high point. However Canadian Pat Morrow, who was competing with Bass to finish the 7 challenged Bass’s summit of Australia’s Mt. Kosciuszko as the highest peak in Oceania saying that Carstensz Pyramid on Irian Jaya (Papua) in Indonesia’s New Guinea was the true highpoint for the Australasian continental mass. Italian Reinhold Messner jumped in and agreed with Morrow. Today Carstensz is considered one of the seven but some 7 Summiteers try to bag the lower Kosciuszko to meet both the Bass and the Messner lists.
Below is a list of the 7 Summits:
- Everest, Nepal – 8850m
- Aconcagua, Argentina – 6980m
- Denali, Alaska – 6194m
- Kilimanjaro, Africa – 5896m
- Elbrus, Russia – 5642m
- Vinson, Antarctica – 4897m
- Carstensz Pyramid, New Guinea – 4884m
Asia: Everest (8850m)
Mt. Everest is in the Himalaya mountain range at the border between Nepal and Tibet (China). It is the
highest mountain in the world and called Sagarmāthā in Nepal and Chomolungma in Tibet. Everest is one
of the 14 mountains over 8000 meters in the world and also one of the 7 summits. Edmund Hillary and
Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first pair to summit Mt. Everest with a British expedition in 1953. Sibusiso Vilane from South Africa is the first black man to summit Everest in 1996. Everest has two main climbing seasons with the main season being spring, from April to May.
South America: Aconcagua (6980m)
The highest peak outside the Himalaya it is located in Argentina near the border with Chile. It was first
summited by Mathias Zurbriggen in 1897. It is the highest mountain in South America at 6,980. Most
climbers fly into Santiago (Chile) or Mendoza (Argentina) and take a bus to Puente del Inca for the normal
route or to Penitentes for the Polish Glacier, Polish Traverse and Vacas routes. It is not part of the Andes mountain range but on an adjacent range thus stands out prominently above the surrounding peaks.
North America: Denali (6,190m)
Denali is the native American name for the mountain but it was changed to Mt. McKinley in honor of
President McKinley and then officially changed back to Denali by the National Park Service in 1980. It is in
central Alaska – 300 miles south of the Arctic Circle and 200 miles East of the Bearing Sea. Denali offers
some the largest vertical gain of any mountain on Earth. The biggest threat on Denali is the weather. It is well known for socking you in for days with high winds and snow. An estimated 32,000 climbers have attempted Denali with about a 40% success rate. Almost 100 have died including 11 in 1992.
Africa: Kilimanjaro (5896m)
One of the world’s highest volcanoes it was first summited in 1889 by Meyer and Purtscheller. There are
actually three peaks: Kibo, Shira and Mawenzi with Kibo being the summit. There are 5 main routes that
meander from the jungle through five microclimates to join the three final ascent routes to Kibo. Both the
Machame and Lemosho routes offer a more leisurely paced scenic climb. The Lemosho route is less crowded while the Machame route has a more difficult beginning but joins into the same route as the Lemosho. The Marangu climb is crowded since it follows a road part way.
Europe: Elbrus (5642m)
Mount Elbrus is an extinct volcano in the Caucasus Main Range, the European border with Asia in
southern Russia. Mt. Elbrus has two main summits – the western summit at 5642m and the
eastern summit at 5621m.The first ascent of the west peak was in 1829 by a Russian army team
and the east in 1874 by an English team. Mont Blanc is sometimes consider the highest in Europe but Elbrus technically holds that honor.
Oceania: Carstensz Pyramid (4884m)
The ‘newest’ of the 7 summits when Pat Morrow and Reinhold Messner challenged Dick Bass’s summit of
Australia’s Mt. Kosciuszko as the highest peak in Oceania. Carstensz Pyramid on Irian Jaya (Papua) in
Indonesia’s New Guinea is now considered one of the 7, but most 7 Summiteers try to bag the walk-up Kosciuszko as well.
Antarctica: Mt. Vinson (4897m)
600 miles from the South Pole, Mount Vinson was first summited in 1966 by climbers led by Nicholas
Clinch from the American Alpine Club and the National Science Foundation, it was the last of the
7 Summits to be conquered. It was named after US Senator and Antarctica supporter, Carl Vinson. It is in
Ellsworth Mountains Range. Just getting there is an adventure involving a 4 hour, 20000 mile plane trip on a Russian IIyushin 76 cargo plane from the tip of South America to the snow camp of Union Glacier Hills. Once there climbers are ferried via a Twin Otter to base camp. Climbs usually take place between December and February.
7 Summits with a purpose is an initiative started in 2012 with the summit of Kilimanjaro. The aim is to use climbing and raise funds to build at least 5 libraries for under privileged schools in South Africa.
As part of her climbing with a purpose initiative, Saray Khumalo has dedicated her climbs to ordinary people, women and girls, daughters of the African soil who dare to dream.
My dream is to go higher and go further for as long as I breathe. To pave a way for my children and other ordinary people, so we may realise and accept that ordinary people like us can achieve extraordinary heights. To not think too much about the difficulties on the way but keep focused on the end goal and to take their hand, motivate them to realise that they too may dream the impossible dream.
FB page: summits with a purpose
The reason is simple as Mandela said, ” It always seems impossible until its done….” Let’s do this!
I am a Mandela Libraries champion climbing to raise awareness of the Mandela Libraries Projects. This initiative is working on building libraries for about 90% of the schools without libraries in South Africa. For more details and to donate, go to;
…and make a difference!
As I continue to summit real mountains, I will encourage children to summit everyday peaks in education and other spheres of their life. Help me make a difference because the power is in our hands!