The Seven Summits Mountaineering Challenge

The Seven Summits is a term known to all mountain climbers. They are the highest mountains of each of the seven continents. This mountaineering challenge was first mentioned in the 1980s by Richard Bass. There are different definitions of what the seven summits are based on continental borders and number of continents. However the seven summit number of seven continents is based on the continents used by Western Europe, United States and Australia.

The first peak in dispute is the Oceania summit. The highest mountain on the Australian mainland is Mount Kosciuiszko at 2,228 meters. The highest mountain in the Australian continent is Puncak jaya at 4,884 meters in New Guinea. This mountain is also known as Carstensz Pyramid. There is a debate that Mount Wilhelm at 4,509 meters should be the highest peak in Oceania as Indonesia is part of Asia. This mountain is in the Bismarck Range of Papua New Guinea.

The next peak of dispute is the European summit. The highest mountain in Europe is Mount Elbrus at 5,642 meters. It is in the Caucasus range that forms the border between Asia and Europe. Since it does form the border, its inclusion in the seven summits list is disputed. The highest mountain in Europe without dispute is Mont Blanc at 4,810 meters on the border of France and Italy.

There are two common seven summit lists in use today, the Bass and Messner lists. The first seven summit list produced by Bass used the highest mountain of mainland Australia, but Reinhold Messner made another list using Puncak Jaya as the highest Oceania summit. But neither list includes Mont Blanc as the European summit. Most mountaineers agree that Messner's list is the true seven summit list as it is the more challenging one and sticks to the ideals of a true mountain climber as the Oceania mount that Bass uses is an easy hike to the top unlike ascending the Carstensz Pyramid.

The seven summit list according to Messner is Kilimanjaro at 5,892 meters on the African continent in the country of Tanzania. The first successful ascent was in 1889. Next is Vinson Massif at 4,892 meters on Antarctica and was successfully ascended in 1966. Carstensz Pyramid at 4,884 meters on the Australia continent in Indonesia was first successfully ascended in 1962. Everest at 8,848 meters on Asia in Nepal and China was first summitted in 1953. Elbrus at 5,642 meters on Europe in Russia was summitted in 1829. Mount McKinley at 6,194 meters on North America in the United States was summitted in 1913. Aconcagua at 6,962 meters on the South American continent in Argentina was first ascended successfully in 1897.

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