While exploring further on this website, you will undoubtedly notice that there are indeed eight mountains covered rather than seven, which will seem strange for a climbing challenge called “the Seven Summits”. Here is some background on the Seven Summits project that hopefully will clarify upfront why this is.
The idea of the Seven Summits was conceived mostly independently by several people at roughly the same time: the mid-1980s. Although Americans Dick Bass and Frank Wells, Canadian Pat Morrow, and Italian Reinhold Messner were probably not the first to think of the concept, they were some of the first to complete the feat, making them influential players in the history of the Seven Summits. Most notably, Bass and Morrow were competing against each other to complete the journey first. Bass ended up doing so first with a summit of Mount Kosciuskzo on mainland Australia as part of his circuit. Morrow, in his well-publicized journey to climb the Seven Summits, decided to climb a more challenging peak called Puncak Jaya, or Carstensz Pyramid, as part of his Seven Summits and finished not long after Bass. Morrow had decided that Carstensz laid claim to the highest point on the Australian continent by using a different definition that included the continental shelf and Irian Jaya, in Indonesia 60-plus miles (more than 96 km) off the north coast of Australia.
Overwhelmingly the climbing community accepted Bass’s version of the Seven Summits when he completed his climbs, but a divide was created when Morrow chose another peak. This divide was broadened when Messner, the most influential climber of his day, decided to complete his Seven Summits circuit by including Carstensz Pyramid as well, before other influential climbers went with Kosciuszko. To this day, climbers have differing opinions of which peak is the true Seventh Summit and climb the peak that best suits their definition, or climb them both to “cover their bases.” Because there are two main versions of the Seven Summits, I include both peaks to allow readers to decide which peak they will include. For more on defining the Seven Summits please refer to the “Kozzie vs. Carstensz” chapter of “Climbing the Seven Summits” by Mike Hamill.
“Their goal was to climb the highest mountain on each of The seven continents.
It was an imposing list: Aconcagua in South America, Everest in Asia, McKinley in North
America, Kilimanjaro in Africa, Elbrus in Europe, Vinson in Antarctica, Kosciuszko
in Australia . . . no one had ever scaled all seven Summits. To do so would be an
accomplishment coveted by the World’s best mountaineers.”
——Rick Ridgeway, from The Seven Summits, by Dick Bass, Rick Ridgeway, and Frank wells (1988)