Denali (Mt. McKinley)
The Seven Summits are composed of the highest mountain peaks in each of the seven continents. They are, in the order of their height: Mt. Everest, Aconcagua, Mt. McKinley, Kilimanjaro, Mt. Elbrus, Vinson Massif, and Mt. Kosciuszko.
There is some debate, however, surrounding Mt. Kosciuszko whose height is 7,310 feet. Some conformists would prefer to substitute the Carstensz Pyramid in Oceania as Australia’s highest mountain, since it is on the same continental plate as Australia. It rises 16,024 feet above sea level and is technically more difficult to climb than any of the Seven Summits. The group also considers that Mt. Kosciuszko is not a challenge for climbers.
The following mountains are called The Seven Summits:
Mt. Everest, at 29,035 feet high, is the highest mountain in the world. It is located in the Himalayan Mountain Range on the border of Nepal and Tibet. Everest has an extreme climate. The summit temperature never rises above freezing or 32° F. In July, the average summit temperature is -2° F, and in January, the average is -33° F.
The best time to climb Everest is in early May before the monsoon season. The Southeast Ridge from Nepal, and the Northeast Ridge from Tibet, are the usual climbing routes. As of January, 2014, a total of 6,971 ascents of Mt. Everest have been made by 4,042 different climbers. Most of the multiple ascents were made by Sherpas, who act as guides.
The first ascent to Mt. Everest was made in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary from New Zealand and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, from Nepal. Queen Elizabeth II knighted Edmund Hillary shortly after his feat of reaching the summit of Mt. Everest.
Sir Edmund Hillary
Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the western hemisphere as well as in the southern hemisphere, and is the second highest mountain in the world, just behind Mt. Everest. Aconcagua is recorded at 22,841 feet. It is located in Argentina near the Chilean border. Mt. Aconcagua is known as "The Colossus of America."
Extreme cold, snow and wind storms are common on Aconcagua, as well as severe electrical storms. Climbers need to be prepared for sudden weather changes. Even in summer, the temperature in the summit is -30° C (-22º F).
Aconcagua is technically an easy mountain to scale if approached from the north, via the normal route. The use of supplemental oxygen is not required even though altitude sickness does affect most climbers. Cold weather injuries are also very common.
The beauty of Aconcagua cannot be overstated. Multiple varieties of birds inhabit the area, including the condor and the purple eagle. Land animals are encountered, commonly mountain rats and the red fox.
Mt. McKinley, originally called Denali, located in Denali National Park in Alaska, is the highest mountain in North America, at 20,320 feet. It is situated about 130 miles north-northwest of Anchorage and approximately 170 miles southwest of Fairbanks. The mountain is actually a huge block of granite, with the upper half being covered permanently with snow that feeds several glaciers.
Denali was renamed in 1896 in honor of President William McKinley. An effort has been under way to change the name of Mt. McKinley back to its original name, Denali, meaning "The Great One."
The mountain is classified as an extremely challenging expedition due to the severe weather and difficulty in adapting to the climate. Because of its far north latitude, Mt. McKinley has lower barometric pressure than the world’s other high mountains. The mountain’s extreme cold, which can be -75 F (-60 C) can freeze a human being instantly. Mt. McKinley is often used by climbers as a training ground for climbing Mt. Everest.
Mt. Kilimanjaro has been called one of the most beautiful places on earth. At 19,340 feet, it is the fourth highest mountain and is located completely in Tanzania, Africa, close to the Kenyan border. The word Kilimanjaro has its origin in Swahili.
Because it is so easy to scale, Mt. Kilimanjaro is often chosen by climbers who want to conquer just one of the Summits. It can be scaled by anyone in fairly good condition, with enough patience as well as money.
When you climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, you will pass rainforests, moors and glaciers. Those beautiful glaciers, however, are receding fast, and may possibly be gone in another 15 years. The mountain's snow-covered peaks are often featured in magazines and films, and thus are easily recognized. The mountain can be climbed all year long, although it is best to avoid the rainy season which runs from April to May.
Mt. Elbrus, in the Caucasus Mountains in Russia, is the highest peak in Europe at 18,510 feet, and is the fifth highest of the Seven Summits. Elbrus is considered one of the easiest to climb of the seven peaks under discussion. Elbrus actually has two summits. The West summit at 18,510 feet is slightly higher than the East summit which measures at 18,442 feet.
Mt. Elbrus is permanently covered with snow along with an icecap and 22 glaciers. The mountain is technically not a mountain but an inactive volcano which last erupted around 50 A.D. Its easy access and more gentle slopes attract many climbers.
A cable car and chairlift accommodate climbers up to 12,500 feet. It also is unique in its use of huts at intervals to provide a resting place for climbers.
The climate is most conducive to climbing in July and August, when the weather is at its most stable. Temperatures above the snowline can fall as low as -22 F (-30 C) during the winter. Even though Mt. Elbrus is inland, it falls between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea which together have an impact on wind and precipitation.
Vinson Massif, at 16,066 feet, is the highest point on the continent of Antarctica. It is 13 miles long and 8 miles wide. It is part of the Ellsworth Mountains and is located 600 miles from the South Pole.
Discovered in 1957, it was sighted by a U. S. Naval aircraft. Vinson was named after Congressman Carl Vinson who supported funding for Antarctic research.
Mt. Vinson is the coldest of the Seven Summits, plus being the most remote and most expensive to climb. Most climbers spend over $30,000 to climb Vinson.
Temperatures in the summer, from November until February, average about -20 degrees F (-30 C). Wind plus cold air temperature combine to create severely low wind-chill temperatures, forming the greatest threat to climbers. It takes an average of about ten days to climb Mount Vinson, depending on conditions and the climbers' experience and skills. Ascents are made during the summer, usually in December and January, when the sun shines 24 hours a day and temperatures climb to -20 degrees F.
The Seven Summits
Mt. Kosciuszko is the highest mountain on the mainland of Australia, rising to 7,310 feet above sea level. It is located in the Snowy Mountains of Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales, in the extreme southeast corner of the continent, between Melbourne and Sydney. Aussies often refer to the mountain as "Kossy." The park and the mountain were named after the Polish General Thaddeus Kosciuszko who aided the American colonists in the Revolutionary War.
The Mt. Kosciuszko area is the coldest and snowiest part of Australia, which is mostly an arid and hot continent. Snow covers the mountain from June through October. The park is host to a variety of flora and fauna, including many alpine plants, which are found nowhere else in the world. More than 200 species of birds make their home in the park.
The best way to experience the spectacular views from the top of Mt Kosciuszko is by chairlift. The Kosciuszko Express Chairlift is open 365 days a year and will take you on a 15-minute scenic ride.
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