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Seven Summits

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

Table of contents
1 The Dominant Lists
2 History
3 Controversies
4 External Reference
5 Reference

The Dominant Lists

The Bass and Messner lists are nearly identical, disagreeing only as to whether Australia or Oceania 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 Oceania. Pat Morrow first met Messner's challenge, followed by Messner himself, both 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:


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 Mt 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 Caucusus 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 Reference