The Seven Summits – so what’s it all about?
Without wanting to insult your intelligence, The Seven Summits consist of the highest mountain on each continent. There are a couple of variations depending on your view of what constitutes a continent, namely the ‘Bass version’ or the ‘Messner version’.
The Seven Summits were first completed by Richard ‘Dick’ Bass in 1985, his version being with Kosciuszko in Australia whilst Reinhold Messner completed the 7 with Carstensz Pyramid instead. Since Dick first completed the 7 another 415 mountaineers from across the globe have followed in his or Messner’s footsteps.
The stats and facts:
- 416 mountaineers from 61 countries
- 72 women in total
- 36 Brits
- 9 British women – I will hopefully be the 10th (keep your fingers crossed!)
I am attempting to complete the Messner version which is detailed below:
|Mountain||Height||Continent||Completed / Attempting|
|Mt Everest||8848m||Asia||C – 19th May 2016|
|Aconcagua||6962m||South America||C – 27th December 2011|
|Denali||6190m||North America||A – June 2017|
|Kilimanjaro||5895m||Africa||C – 23rd October 2008|
|Elbrus||5642m||Europe||C – 22nd July 2015|
|Mt Vinson||4892m||Antarctica||A – in the pipeline|
|Carstensz Pyramid||4884m||Australasia||A – autumn 2017|
I have always climbed each mountain in their own right and for their own unique challenge rather than having the Seven Summits in my sights however the challenge is now on. Denali is next and is a mountain that I have wanted to climb above everything else in the last 6-7 years since I read Mark Beaumont’s incredible account of the mountain when he took a detour from his cycle from the top of North America to the bottom of South America (he climbed Aconcagua on the way too!). I read his book ‘The man who cycled the Americas’ during one of my early Kilimanjaro climbs, who’d have thought back then!
So, a little more about Denali. My expedition runs from 2nd to 27th June with 4th to 24th June on the mountain itself. This is one beast of an expedition that calls for a huge amount of teamwork, greater fitness than ever before and the ability to just sit out bad weather in freezing conditions. We will be carrying heavy loads, pulling heavier loads, roped up for glacial travel; it’s not called Gnarly Denali for nothing (don’t read too much into that comment Mum!). Training has already begun and will ramp up from March with the help of Evolved Health and me, some tyres and the New Forest or a beach or two!
Denali has a fascinating history from false claims of summits to the changing of names (you may also know it as Mt McKinley), please head to https://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/climbinghistory.htm for an interesting read.
For me it’s all about the raw nature of the environment and the need for self-sufficiency. No Sherpa support, no teahouses, no Tanzanian crew, no Pablo at Plaza de Mulas cooking incredible meals. It’s you, your teammates and the mountain, brilliant. A totally different expedition to Everest and I can’t wait.
I have booked through 360 Expeditions so will be flying the 360 flag once again on the mountain but will be heading out on my own to join a team with American Alpine Institute, our partners out there. This is the first time I’ve gone solo to an expedition since my first challenge back in 2004 and it’s very exciting!