The "Seven Summits" Challenge

Everest, Aconcagua, Denali (McKinley), Kilimanjaro,
Elbrus, Vinson, Kosciuszko / Carstensz

About 25 years ago, Dick Bass conceived the idea of climbing the "Seven Summits".  This challenge consists of climbing the highest mountain on each of the 7 continents.  Dick Bass was the first to complete this challenge in 1985, but a controversy about the actual list of the seven summits still remains.

Depending on the geographical, geological or geopolitical boundaries, the highest summit of Europe could be either Mont Blanc in France at 15,774 ft., or Mount Elbrus in Russia at 18,540 ft..  Elbrus, lying north of the main Caucasus crest, technically falls into Europe by a few miles, using the classic Europe/Asia dividing line.  Elbrus and the Caucasus are not generally thought of as very "European", instead being closer to the Middle East.  The alternate candidate, Mont Blanc is clearly in Europe, but being 2766 ft. lower in elevation, is an honorable mention. When it comes to the "Seven Summits", the consensus is that Mount Elbrus holds the title as top of Europe.

The debate is even stronger for the 7th summit title between Kosciuszko in Australia at 7,308 ft., or the Carstensz Pyramid in Irian Jaya, Indonesia  at 16,023 ft., in Oceania.

Carstensz is the highest summit in Australia/Oceania, but strictly speaking, it is hard to call it a continental high point when it is not on a continental landmass, and second, politically it is in Indonesia, part of Asia.  Lowly Mount Kosciuszko is the high point of the generally flat continent of Australia, and is considered by many to be the true seventh summit.

Today there are two "official" lists of the "Seven Summits": Bass' version with Kosciuszko as the 7th summit and the Messner's list with Carstensz Pyramid as the 7th summit.  Many climbers wishing to complete the "Seven Summits" challenge, do both peaks.

Based on the various statistics nearly 200 mountaineers have completed the "Seven Summits" challenge, with less than 10% of those climbers being women.