History of 7 Summits project – who was first?

This page is about the history of the Seven Summits project. If you would rather read more general information about Seven Summits and its rather interesting relation to Carstensz Pyramid, please go to our Seven Summits page

List of peaks involved in the project:

Asia: Mount Everest (8850 m)

South: America Aconcagua (6968 m),

North America: Denali McKinley (6195 m)

Africa: Kilimanjaro (5963 m),

Europe Elbrus: (5642 m), Antarctic"s Vinson Massif (4897 m)

Australia: Mt. Kosciuszko (2229 m)

Australia and Oceania: Carstenz Pyramid (Puncak Jaya, Jaya Kesuma) (4884 m)

Antarktida: mt. Vinson: (4892 m)

Surmounting all 7 Summits is a great challenge

The first person who managed to finish the 7 Summits project was Richard Daniel (Dick) Bass (*1929). Climbing the highest peaks of all seven continents was his dream. The same dream was shared by Frank Wells, who partnered with Dick Bass. Frank Wells has never finished the project, because he promised to his wife to quit the project after the third unsuccessful attempt to climb Mount Everest. He consequently tragically died in the age of 62 in a helicopter crash in 1994 when he was returning from Nevada. The first peak, which Dick Bass climbed, was Aconcagua (6968 m) in 1983. In the same year, he climbed also the following peaks: Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Denali, Vinson and Kosciusko. In 1985 he added Mount Everest. In this time, Dick Bass was the eldest person to climb Mount Everest. He became the first person to complete 7 summits including Kosciuszko, but without Carstensz, which was not considered at the time. Based on this, he pushed through the so called first list of 7Summits, where he also included the highest mountain of Australia Mount Kosciuszko (2,228 m), which was intended to represent Australia as its highest peak. It is necessary to note that Dick Bass has never climbed Carstensz Pyramid (Puncak Jaya).

Two lists of 7 Summits (Kosciuszko a Carstensz)

As was already explained, the first list with the highest peak of Australia Mt. Kosciuszko (2.228 m) was founded by Dick Bass.

The Austrian Reinhold Messner (*1944) has pushed through another Seven Summits list, so called second list, in which he replaced Australia"s Mount Kosciuszko with Carstensz Pyramid (4,884 m), which can be found on New Guinea. He also ranks among the climbers that finished Seven Summits. He started in 1971 with Carstensz Pyramid (Puncak Jaya) and than he climbed Aconcagua (1974), Denali (1976), Mount Everest (1978), Elbrus a Kosciuszko (1983), Vinson (1986). From the climber"s point of view, the Messner"s list is more challenging, because climbing Carstensz Pyramid (Puncak Jaya) bears characteristics of an expedition, while Mount Kosciuszko is much easier accessible. These arguments were considered also by Pat Morrow, when he chose the Messner"s list.

Was Messner first?

Canadian Patrick Allan Morrow (1952) was the first person on the world to climb all the highest summits of all continents according to both Messner and Bass lists. Mount McKinley in North America 1977, Aconcagua in South America (1981), Mount Everest in Asia (1982), Elbrus in Europe(1983), Kilimanjaro in Africa (1983), Vinson"s Massive in Antarctica (1985), Carstensz Pyramid (Puncak Jaya) in Oceania(1986).

The last peak that Pat Morrow climbed in the Seven Summits project was in both Carstensz and Kosciuszko lists Elbrus – on 5 AUG 1986.

The last peak that Reinhold Messner climbed was Vinson on 3 DEC 1986 (in Carstensz and Kosciuszko lists)

It could be thus said that Patrick Allan Morrow was the first person that finished 7 Summits including the Carstensz Pyramid (Puncak Jaya), which is in present considered as a truly complete climb of the Seven Summits. He was first even despite of the fact that he started one year later than Reinhold Messner.

Messner's primacy

Reinhold Messner yet achieved in 7 Summits one unmatched and very valuable primacy. Reinhold Messner was first to finish 7 Summits (including Carstensz and Kosciuszko) without artificial oxygen on Mount Everest.

Only two people in the history of 7 Summits have achieved this so far. The second one was Czech climber Miroslav Caban, who finished the project in 2005, that is 9 years after Messner. Miroslav Caban also included in 7Summits both Kosciuszko and Carstensz Pyramid.

More people have not yet been able to put themselves on this „third list“ as of 5 FEB 2008 (as far as we were able to gather the data).