Seven Summits

From Academic Kids

This article concerns at least three closely-related senses of Seven Summits:

  • The book Seven Summits, by Dick Bass et al.,
  • The list of seven mountains, each the highest on its continent, that the book presents, and
  • The similar list proposed by Reinhold Messner.
  • In addition there is at least a third such list, discussed below.

The dominant lists

The Bass and Messner lists are nearly identical, disagreeing only as to whether Australia or Australasia should be among the continents:


Bass, an American businessman and amateur mountaineer, set himself the goal of climbing the highest mountain on each of his seven continents, including Australia. He hired professional climbers to help him reach Everest, by far the most difficult of his Seven, completed his Everest summit April 30 1985, and then co-authored the book, describing the undertaking.

Messner, whose mountaineering career stands out both professionally and personally, took issue with the selection of Australia as a continent (or as a continent worthy of mountaineering), and revised Bass's list by substituting for Australia the whole of Australasia. Pat Morrow first met Messner's challenge (August 5 1986), followed by Messner himself, also in 1986.

As of 2003, somewhat more than 100 climbers have climbed all seven of the peaks on one or the other of those two lists; about 40% of those have climbed all of the eight peaks required to complete both lists. While the numbers of completions of the two lists are very close, two statistics suggest the difference in degree of effort:

  • even discounting both the 1985 completions using Kosciuszko (since they could be thought of as resulting from something of a head start before Messner's challenge was made), five more climbers completed Sevens using Kosciuszko before the third one using Carstensz Pyramid, and
  • the shortest spans a person has made the seven ascents within is about 7 months using Kosciuszko, and about ten months using Carstensz Pyramid.


Criticism of promoting the goal

Many mountain climbers, beyond these hundred and some, aspire to complete the seven ascents of one or both of these lists, but the expense, physical ability, and danger involved often turn out to be far beyond the resources they can bring to the project. In particular, as of 2003, political problems are preventing further ascents of Carstensz Pyramid. 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.

Can Elbrus represent Europe?

Beyond the two approaches to choosing a peak southeast of the Asian mainland, an argument is made against Elbrus serving as Europe's highest peak. Without necessarily questioning the conventional boundaries of Europe in their conventional roles in describing commerce, population flows, and culture, home-atlas topographic maps make it obvious that the Caucasus range has a closer geophysical affinity with Asian mountains than with other European ones. While no list without Elbrus seems to have gained the traction with climbing enthusiasts that those with Elbrus have found, any weakness of the case for Mont Blanc (at 4,807 meters) in place of Elbus lies in its technical nature, not in an idiosyncratic view of European boundaries.

External links


ja:七大陸最高峰 nl:zeven meest begeerde bergen pl:Korona Ziemi zh-cn:七顶峰


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