Sophisticated Suspense and more . . .

Seven Summits

Robert wanted to be his own man and chose climbing the highest seven summits of the seven continents as a way to distinguish himself from his birthright in Crossing Paths.  Meri surmises it’s related to reaching as close to his dead father as possible.  Who knows, but when his climbing friends descend on Chartsfield, expecting him to leave his responsibilities behind and join them, he faces a dilemma in more ways than one.


Climbing the Seven Summits is widely regarded as perhaps the biggest mountaineering challenge for a climber. Reaching this goal is expensive, grueling, dangerous, and exhausting, but for some it is the ultimate in life achievement.  First accomplished in 1985 by Richard Bass, only 350 climbers (approximately) have succeeded in this quest.


One of the major topics among climbers is how you define the Seven Summits. While different lists include slight variations, generally the same core is maintained and that core is: Everest (Asia), Aconcagua (South America), Denali (North America), Kilamanjaro (Africa), and Vinson (Antartica). The variations depend on the definition used for a continent — in particular the location of the border of that continent. The two points of variation are first, Mont Blanc or Mount Elbrus for Europe, and the second, either Puncak Jaya (AKA Carstensz Pyramid) or Mount Kosciusko for Australia.  So, depending on your choice, there are several possible versions of the seven summits.


The concept Bass and his climbing partner, Frank Wells, sought was to be the first to stand atop the highest mountain on each continent.  Bass was a businessman and amateur mountaineer, and in only one year, 1983, he climbed six peaks: Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro, Mt. Elbrus, Mt. Vinson and Mt. Kosciuszko. All of these climbs he did together with his companion Wells and different mountain guides. From 1983 Bass and Wells made various guided attempts to climb Mt. Everest, the highest and most difficult peak in the list. Bass reached the summit of Mt. Everest in a party without Wells in 1985, guided by the American professional mountaineer David Breashears. Bass then co-authored the book Seven Summits, which covered the undertaking.


For Robert and his friends to undertake the goal to climb the Seven Summits, they would probably have needed to ‘train and practice’ on mountains like The Matterhorn, Mount Thor, Eiger, and including Ben Nevis in the UK.  Then they would need to decide where they would begin on their summits.  Many climbers choose Kilamanjaro as the easiest and Everest and Punkak Jaya as the most difficult.


Bear in mind that the difficulties of climbing all seven summits are enormous. The climbs are technically difficult; the costs including transportation and the right equipment are high. Many would recommend that amateur to intermediate climbers should not even consider climbing some of the training mountains, let alone the Seven Summits. The danger is enormous, the expenses tremendous and a great deal of skill and courage necessary.  Not to mention the worries of your friends and family!