The Seven Summit Dream


It’s fair to say the idea of climbing the seven summits has become quite a popular goal. Thousands of people from around the globe dream of summiting all 7 (really 8) peaks. Climbing to the top of each of the highest peaks in each of the worlds continents.

  • Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. The highest Mountain in Africa
  • Mount Elbrus, Russia. The highest Mountain in Europe
  • Mount Kosciusko, Australia. The highest Mountain in Australia
  • Aconcagua, Argentina. The highest Mountain in South America
  • Denali, Alaska. The highest Mountain in North America
  • Vinson Massif, Antarctica. The highest Mountain in Antarctica
  • Carstensz Pyramid (Puncak Jaya), Indonesia. He highest Mountain in Australasia
  • Mount Everest, Nepal/China, Highest Mountain in Asia

These mountains that make up the seven summits as a collective have united so many like minded individual who share the same dream, creating friendships from hardship and a shared passion which creates the strongest of bonds. Women, men, Japanese, American, Italian, Australian, Norwegian, young, old and everyone in-between. Some with years of climbing experience and others with none. It’s great to see, it promotes a healthy lifestyle, positive thinking and goal setting, the outdoors, life-changing adventure travel and the mountaineering industry itself. It also brings revenue to countries and to the locals in need who live around these mountains, providing a source of income via jobs such as porters and guides. For example people paying to climb Mount Kilimanjaro gives hundreds if not thousands of job opportunities to residents of Arusha, Moshi & Mawenzi in Tanzania. As a whole the seven summit dream is a hugely positive objective for all the reasons stated above, plus some, however like all things it does bring about some problems.

  • It leaves a significant human footprint on many of these pristine mountains. The mountains are a beautiful place, from the views, the fresh air, the simple lifestyle, the surrounding natural environment and of course the mountains themselves. And due to the thousands and thousands of trekkers and climbers that set foot on these mountains, they inevitably begin to get worn down. Rubbish gets left behind, human waste builds up, paths get bigger, the surrounding natural environment gets smaller and replaced by human infrastructure such as drop toilets and even lodges.
  • The sense of adventure gets lost. As more people get on the mountain, the main routes get better defined, safety precautions get put in place and infrastructure gets built. As a result climbing these mountains becomes less adventurous and the basic routes become less challenging. Instead of rising to the challenge of the mountain we’ve brought the challenge downwards towards us. I believe this is part of the reason why many dedicated climbers have become upset and turned their backs on the commercialisation of mountaineering and specifically climbing the seven summits. (I am not saying that any of these mountains are easy, NOT AT ALL)

THE SEVEN SUMMIT GOAL: THE NEED OF PROGRESSION & PROPER GUIDANCE

If you’re starting your seven summit dream with no previous climbing experience it’s important to understand that it’s a progressive process. You have to know which ones to start on, you can’t go straight to Denali in North America, Vinson Massif in Antartica or Mount Everest in Asia. To have the capability of summiting the more arduous and difficult mountains of the seven safely, a whole range of skills must be developed by climbing the easier ones first, along with a few other expeditions and courses in-between. You need adequate time at high altitude to get a better understanding on how your body copes at certain heights, you need to spend numerous nights in the cold, alpine environment so you can become more self sufficient with tents, cooking, etc, you may need to develop personal coping mechanisms, to help you deal with the stressful situations alpine climbing and long expeditions can bring, obviously you need to build up your climbing skills for the more technical climbs, you need to develop mountaineering fitness, a combo of cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance & strength, you need to get a better understanding of clothing and gear, what works for you? and lastly you need to learn the appropriate safety management skills i.e storm and avalanche awareness, crevasse rescue, etc. These are all parts of the puzzle that are needed to make a complete picture that is you summiting all seven summits. Each part of the puzzle is collected as you continue to gain experience, starting on the smaller, less demanding and less technical of the seven summits and then continuing to make your way up to the higher, more technically difficult ones. With that being said how should you progress? What mountains should you start with to gain the experience? Ideally, if money is of no concern, this would be the way to go:

  • Mount Kosciusko
  • Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Mount Elbrus
  • Mountaineering and/or an ice-climbing course
  • Vinson Massif
  • Aconcagua
  • Additional Expedition on a 6000m-7000m mountain with moderate technical difficulty
  • Denali
  • Mount Everest
  • Rock-Climbing course
  • Carstensz Pyramid (Puncak Jaya)

If your tight on money:

  • Mount Kosciusko
  • Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Mount Elbrus
  • Mountaineering and/or an ice-climbing course
  • Aconcagua
  • Denali
  • Everest
  • Vinson Massif
  • Rock-Climbing course
  • Carstensz Pyramid (Puncak Jaya)

Additionally I want to add its very important who you choose to guide you up these mountains (if that’s how you plan on doing it). It can be very easy and tempting to choose the cheapest option. However your life is more important than money. Also choosing a well known, well reviewed and reputable company is very important for your chances of summit success. Personally I’d say look no further than Climbing the Seven Summits, established by Mike Hamill, an extremely experienced mountain guide with 20+ years of guiding experience, 6 total summits of each of the seven summits (Everest included) & 30+ with some. Climbing the Seven Summits is a fairly priced, well reviewed and logistically prepared company with their clients best interests at heart. They have consistently shown with past expeditions that they bring the goods with a very high success rate of clients summiting. I personally plan to climb the rest of the seven summits with them, starting with Aconcagua in February 2020.

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