Seven Summits – the classic mountaineering challenge


In the world of climbers there is a long tradition of trying to be the first person to create a new route, for example, and hunting for new records. Imagine what it would feel like to be the first, fastest, largest group, youngest, oldest…

As early as 1953 when Hillary and Tenzing climbed Mount Everest, this was about who would become the first person to succeed in doing something that had never before been done. In 1975, Junko Tabei became the first woman to climb the world’s highest mountain, and three years later, in 1978, Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler were the first to show that it was possible to climb Everest without using any oxygen. Messner then took these records to a whole new level when, in 1986, he became the first person in the world to have climbed all the 14 peaks which are higher than 8,000 metres.

A year earlier, the American Richard Bass had become the first person to accomplish the Seven Summits, i.e. to climb the highest mountain on each of the continents. Seven continents – seven summits.

The Bass list includes Australia’s highest mountain, Mt Kosciuszko, which is 2,228 metres. However, Bass did not have a background in climbing and was questioned by Messner, among others, who thought that the highest mountain in Oceania (of which Australia is a part) is the more difficult Carstensz Pyramid, which is 4,884 metres high, and that this mountain should have been included instead. In 1986, Patrick Morrow was the first person who accomplished the Seven Summits on Messner’s list.

My dream of once standing on the top of Mt Everest was born in 1996, and at this time, I also had the idea of perhaps being able to accomplish the Seven Summits. In 1998, when I and Göran were rock climbing in Australia, we also went up to the top of Mt Kosciuszko. And I agree, Carstensz Pyramid is a bigger challenge. It all started when, in 1999, I became the first Swedish woman to stand on the top of Mount Everest. For me, Everest was the first of the seven summits and, at this time, no other Swedish climber had the ambition to accomplish the Seven Summits. What I did not know was that it would take me 15 years to realize my dream.

Asia Mount Everest 8,850 m
South America Aconcagua 6,962 m
North America Mt McKinley/Denali 6,194 m
Africa Kilimanjaro 5,895 m
Europe Elbrus 5,642 m
Antarctica  Mt Vinson 4,892 m
Oceania Carstensz Pyramid 4,884 m (Australia Kosciuszko 2,228 m)

Seven Summits på svenska


Renata Chlumska

Kämpandes uppför en brant isvägg på väg mot toppen av världens högsta berg. Ensam i kajaken mot piskande vågor på ett rytande Stilla havet. Eller, pressad till det yttersta av extrema krafter i en flygsimulator under förberedelserna till nästa utmaning. Resan till rymden. Man kan knappast leva bättre upp till Renatas eget konstaterande, att livet är ett äventyr.

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