The highest peaks on the seven continents, the seven summits, make the heart of every
mountaineer beat faster, as it is a life's goal of many of them to ascend each of the
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|South America: Aconcagua, 6962 m
Situated in Argentina and not considered a tough challenge, as no climbing is needed in order to reach the summit. Thus the Aconcagua is often underestimated. More than just a few mountaineers lost their life on the "easy" route from the Horcones Valley, mostly because of the extremely cold and stormy winds.
Photo: Michael Powers,
American Alpine Institute
|North America: Mount McKinley, 6194 m
The local Athabaskan name is Denali ("The Great/High One"). As the Denali is located in the Alasca Range, you can easily imagine the extremely cold temperatures, suddenly upcoming icy winds and the avalanche danger, which require climber's physical best for a successful attempt to reach the summit.
|Oceania: Puncak Jaya
(Carstensz Pyramid), 4884 m
Located in the "wild west" of the Papua province (formerly Irian Jaya) in Indonesia. Permits to travel there are very hard to get and the area can be sealed off without warning. P.J. is technically the hardest of the 7 summits. At least it can be climbed all year round, as it is very close to the equator. It really rains a lot as the wet winds are pushed upwards from all sides.
|Europe: Mount Elbrus, 5642 m
A stratovolcano dormant since 2000 years with two summits. The east summit is just a bit lower: 5621m. A cable car and a chairlift can take summiteers from 2200m in Azau to 3750m, where the night can be spent in "the Barrels", 4 people in each of which. Except for icy sections after strong winds there are no major difficulties on the normal route. That is why you may see up to 100 people on this route each day during summer season.
|Africa: Mount Kilimanjaro, 5895 m
The breathtaking beauty of the "Kili" which already inspired Ernest Hemingway, is often hidden by clouds. The summit of Africa, Uhuru Peak on the volcanic cone Kibo can be reached by trekking. Nevertheless a good physical condition and acclimatisation are indispensable as summiteers leave in tropical climate, pass rainforest and moorland and arrive in an altitude, where they may suffer from altitude sickness.
|Antarctica: Mt Vinson/Vinson Massif
The Vinson Massif is 21km long and 13km wide. Mount Vinson is 4892m high and about 1200km away from the South Pole.
Because of the extreme geografical situation and the lack of infrastructure the ascent of the Antarctic summit is a very expensive undertaking.
|Asia: Chomolungma, 8848 m,
or Qomolangma (Tibetian) or Sagarmatha (Nepali). These native names have something to do with holyness or goddesses. The British name Mt Everest was given by the Royal Geographical Society in 1865. As there are reams of information about the highest mountain of the world, just let me ask the heretical question whether it is really necessary, that scores of summiteers armed with oxygen bottles disturb the quiet of the goddesses.
Photo: Darren Foltinek (www.frontrange.ca)