When I was prepping for Kilimanjaro, I had a lot of people bring up the point I'd made about it being one of the 'seven summits' and many of my friends had never heard of this.
The 'seven summits' are the highest peaks on each continent. The first person to climb all seven was Richard Bass in 1985.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes, 'the world's greatest living explorer' is completing this challenge of climbing all seven summits at the age of 72, with only Aconcagua (he had to descend in January due to back pain whilst attempting this), Carstenz and Denali left to summit.
Want to learn more about these elusive peaks?
1. Mt Everest
First recorded summit: 29th May 1953 - Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay
- Named after the leader of the British Survey Team in 1865, Sir George Everest
- Mt. Everest is over 60 million years old, and the highest point on earth.
- It's often referred to as Sagarmatha by the Nepalese people, meaning 'Goddess of the Sky'.
- The youngest person to summit was 13 years old.
- The oldest person to summit was an 80 year old from Japan, named Miura Yiuchiro. The previous record holder Min Bahadur Sherchan (now 86) living in Hampshire, UK, is planning to reclaim his title and is currently fundraising to do so.
- As of June 2016, 282 people have died trying to summit Everest. Most of these bodies are still on the mountain.
- Your kettle will boil at 72°C on Everest
- It takes approximately 40 days to climb Everest, so you'd better book time off work!
Continent: South America
First recorded summit: January 14th 1897 - Matthias Zurbriggen
- The highest mountain outside of Asia.
- There is an art gallery in one of the tents at base camp, the highest gallery in the world.
- The youngest person to summit was 9 years old.
- The oldest person to summit so far was 87 years old.
- The fastest ascent was 11 hrs 52 mins minutes by Karl Egloff.
- It takes around 3 weeks to climb Aconcagua
Continent: North America
Country: USA - Alaska
First recorded summit: June 7th 1913 by Hudson Stuck, Harry Karstenz, Robert Tatum and Walter Harper
- Previously known as Mt McKinley, it was officially changed to 'Denali' in 2015. Denali was a name used by the Koyukon people for hundreds of years, meaning 'the high one'
- The temperature can be as low as -83°C with wind chill, so pack warm clothes!
- Jordan Romero, the youngest person to climb Everest, is also the youngest to climb Denali, summiting when he was 11 years old.
4. Mt Kilimanjaro
First recorded summit: Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller - 1889
- Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano.
- There are 7 routes up the mountain, with varying degrees of difficulty.
- The highest point, Uhuru Peak, was formerly known as Kaiser-Wilhelm Peak until Tanzania was formed from Tanganyika and Zanzibar in 1964, when it was renamed to Uhuru, meaning 'Freedom'.
- The fastest ascent was Karl Egloff, who reached the summit and descended again in 6 hrs 42 mins.
- Most people take around 6 days to summit for the best chances.
- The youngest person to summit was a 7 year old, however, there is a age limit of 10.
- The oldest person to climb was Angela Vorobeva at 86 years old.
5. Mt Elbrus
First recorded summit: 1874 - F Crauford Grove, Frederick Gardner, Horace Walker and Peter Knubel.
- Elbrus is a dormant volcano.
- The youngest person to ascend Elbrus was 12 year old Erik Gulacsi last summer (2016)
- Around 30 people a year are said to die whilst attempting Elbrus due to weather and a lack of preparation. You can take a cable car to 12,000ft.
- A Landrover was taken to the summit in 1997.
6. Mt Vinson
First recorded summit: 18th December 1966, by 10 scientists and mountaineers
- Named after US congressman Carl Vinson from Georgia, who persuaded the US to government fund American exploration of Antarctica.
- The coldest of the seven summits at around -20 to -30°C
- The youngest to summit was Jordan Romero at the age of 15.
7. Carstenz Pyramid
Country: New Guinea
First recorded summit: 1962 - Heinrich Harrer, Philip Temple, Russell Kippax and Albertus Huizenga
- Also known as Puncak Jaya, meaning Victory Peak.
- Arguably the most technical climb of all seven summits
- Werner Berger was the oldest to climb Cartenz at the age of 75.
- Jordan Romero was the youngest to climb Carstenz at the age of 13.
- There is a debate that Carstenz is not the highest summit on this continent, instead that Kosciuszko in Australia is, but it depends if you count Australia as a continent or Oceana. Many deem Carstenz to be the main summit in the area.
With a cost of approximately £110,000 to climb all seven, not to mention the training, equipment and time off work required, it is a big challenge to set yourself.
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