Seven Summits

Author: John Collins Rudolf

The seven summits are the highest peaks on each continent, and the successful ascent of all seven is considered a unique mountaineering challenge. The first person to complete a summit of all seven was Dick Bass, an American businessman, in 1985.

Some controversy attends the list of mountains making up the seven summits. Originally Mount Kosciuszko was on the list as Australia’s highest peak. Many climbers chasing the seven summits prefer the difficult and more remote Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia, which is Oceania’s highest mountain. The summits:

Asia: Everest, 29,029 feet, Nepal/Tibet
South America: Aconcagua, 22,841 feet, Argentina
North America: Denali (Mount McKinley), 20,320 feet, Alaska
Africa: Kilimanjaro, 19,340 feet, Tanzania
Europe: Elbrus, 18,510 feet, Russia
Antarctica: Vinson Massif, 16,050 feet, Ellsworth Range
Oceania: Carstensz Pyramid, 16,023 feet, Indonesia
Australia: Mount Kosciuszko, 7,310 feet

About 275 climbers had summited seven peaks by spring 2010; about 100 had finished all eight. The 62-year-old John Curtis Rudolf ’70 had accomplished all but Everest over the past three years when he attempted the world’s highest mountain this spring. For more information on his climbs, see