The Spirit of Alpinism

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Seven Summits Expeditions

Climb the Highest Peaks on the Seven Continents

The highest peaks on each of the seven continents - collectively nicknamed "The Seven Summits" - began to gain attention as a climbing objective in the late 1980's after the publication of the book of the same name by Dick Bass and Frank Wells. By 1999, 60 climbers worldwide had completed the Seven Summits; the number is now in the hundreds. AAI is proud to offer expeditions to all seven of these famous mountains, together with the most comprehensive and effective training course available anywhere in the world to launch your climbing project ...

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Seven Summits Expeditions

Climb the Highest Peaks on the Seven Continents

Ascents of the Seven Summits as a climbing goal gained attention in the late 1980's. Pat Morrow, a Canadian mountaineer, became the first to climb all seven in 1985, and that achievement was soon followed by success by mid-50-year-olds Dick Bass and Frank Wells. Their publication of a book in 1988 gained great media attention.

Previously, several climbers had sought and succeeded on five or six of the seven peaks, and in fact by 1978, Reinhold Messner (one of the most influencial mountaineers in history and an architect of the Seven Summits idea) succeded on six of the seven. Messner had actually climbed what he believed then to be the Seven Summits, because there was some debate about whether Australia should be considered a continent in itself, or whether the entire Australasian tectonic plate, which includes the island of New Guinea, should be considered the seventh continent. It is Carstenz Pyramid – also known as Puncak Jaya – a 16,023-foot rock tower in Papua New Guinea, that is now officially considered the seventh summit, soaring far higher than mainland Australia's highest peak, Kosciuszko (7,310 feet). Some still claim that there are Eight Summits (including Kosciuszko) or even the Nine Summits (including Mont Blanc, highest in Western Europe).

By 1999, 60 climbers worldwide had completed the Seven Summits. With the start of the 21st century, the numbers of climbers interested in attaining this goal rocketed up, and over the last 10 years the Seven Summits have received a lot of press and are now well known as a popular climbing objective.

The Seven Summits are:


Strategy and Logical Progression

Here is a logical order for climbing these mountains, based on their difficulty:

  1. Seven Summits Training Course, Phase 1
  2. Kilimanjaro
  3. Mt. Elbrus
  4. Aconcagua
  5. Seven Summits Training Course, Phase 2
  6. Denali
  7. Mt. Vinson
  8. Seven Summits Training Course, Phase 3
  9. Carstenz Pyramid
  10. Everest


Though a few people have tried to complete their ascents of all seven summits in a year or two, most take longer because each peak requires progressively more skill and experience. While some climbers do in fact start with Kilimanjaro and move through the list to Everest without doing much other climbing along the way, this is definitely not the safest method nor the approach most likely to bring success.

For example, there are quite a few skills needed to climb Denali - such as a solid level of snow and ice climbing ability and intimate knowledge of glacier travel procedures - and these skills aren't necessarily picked up on any of the easier Seven Summits. Climbers planning to tackle Denali will usually need our Seven Summits Training Course, Parts 1 and 2, or equivalent Denali Prep programs either in the Cascades or in Alaska.

Another example is Carstenz Pyramid, which requires the ability to climb up to 5.8 (following) at high altitude (16,000 feet). Climbers with no previous experience on multi-pitch rock will need our Seven Summits Training Course, Part 3, or an equivalent program to acquire the requisite skill base.  Many climbers choose to extend this preparation by tackling a major alpine rock climb, such as Mt. Stuart, North Ridge, in the Cascades, or Mt. Whitney, East Buttress in the Sierra Nevada.  Any number of outstanding climbs in the Alps, such as the Matterhorn or the Eiger, also make for outstanding preparation.

Give us a call at 360-671-1505 any time to discuss your personalized strategy for training for and attaining the Seven Summits. You can also drop us an email at [email protected].

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