Sunset at 6000m on Aconcagua (the tallest mountain in South America).  I took this picture during a 2010 expedition.
Even though I almost died on Aconcagua in a blizzard, I still want to go back and climb the mountain. It was absolutely beautiful! There is something truly magical about mountaineering that I just can’t explain. It is my one true love!
Living in a flat region makes me sad - I wish I could be in the mountains right now!

Seven Summits

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way.” – Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

The Seven Summits, a well-known mountaineering objective, are the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. The Seven Summits, from highest to lowest, are:
  • Asia: Mount Everest 29,035 feet (8850 meters)
  • South America: Aconcagua 22,829 feet (6962 meters)
  • North America: Denali AKA Mount McKinley 20,320 feet (6194 meters)
  • Africa: Kilimanjaro 19,340 feet (5895 meters)
  • Europe: Mount Elbrus 18,510 feet (5642 meters)
  • Antarctica: Mount Vinson 16,067 feet (4897 meters)
  • Australasia/Oceania: Carstensz Pyramid 16,023 feet (4884 meters)
When we got to the summit, the clouds were rolling in and we didn’t have a view. But we did have a view on the way up, and it was like, oh my God—I really knew I was going to be on top of the world As of 2008 over 200 people have climbed the Seven Summits. The first woman to climb all the peaks was Japanese Juko Tabei, who finished in 1992. Mount Everest is considered the most difficult and dangerous of the Seven Summits for climbers.  Carstensz Pyramid is technically the most difficult of the seven peaks to climb since it requires technical rock climbing skills. Denali and Mount Vinson present more serious challenges. Denali is a huge mountain covered with glaciers and exposed to severe weather, while Vinson in Antarctica is remote, hard to reach, and expensive. If you rich enough, you can try to do an expedition to the Seven Summits
  • Kilimanjaro, Africa $3,150 (8 days from Moshi, Tanzania)
  • Aconcagua, South America $3,700 (20 days from Mendoza, Argentina)
  • Mount Elbrus, Europe $4,300 (14 days from Moscow, Russia)
  • Denali AKA Mount McKinley $4,800 (22 days from Anchorage, Alaska)
  • Carstensz Pyramid, Indonesia $18,300 (21 days from Bali, Indonesia)
  • Mount Vinson, Antarctica $31,500 (17 days from Puntas Arenas, Chile)
  • Mount Everest, Asia $65,000 (71 days from Kathmandu, Nepal)

You’re going to need a lot of specialized gear like crampons and ice axe, as well as lots of warm clothes to protect you from extremely cold temperatures that can dip as low as -70 degrees F. In other words, you’re not going to get by with three pairs of shorts, two Hawaiian shirts, a Patagonia rain coat, and a pair of hiking boots from Kohls. Check your guide service for a complete list of your personal gear.

On May 26th, 2011 at 6:45 Nepali time, Geordie Stewart became the youngest Briton to complete the 7 summits at the age of 22 years and 21 days. This record stood for just 2 and a half hours before George Atkinson became the youngest person in the world to complete the round aged 16 years 362 days.

Kílian Jornet, Sky Runner

Jornet is widely considered the world’s fastest mountain runner and one of the most exciting endurance athletes today. Stephen Kurczy documents one of his recent climbs:

At 6 A.M., he started running from the park entrance. He covered the first fourteen miles to base camp in three and a quarter hours. The next four and a half miles to the summit took five and a quarter hours, during which he climbed nearly nine thousand feet in elevation and the terrain changed from sandy and rocky to snow-covered and icy. The altitude made him disoriented, and wobbly legs and a loss of balance caused him to fall repeatedly, he later told me.

Above: Kílian Jornet on Aconcagua. Photograph by Stephen Kurczy