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John May is a generalist. A lifelong free-lance author, editor, producer and writer, he has worked on 15 books and written for many major newspapers and magazines. He is a published poet, a semi-professional musician and songwriter, a part-time painter and a dedicated photographer.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Aconcagua at dawn/7 Summits

The highest mountains on each of Earth’s continents were first named the Seven Summits by Dick Bass, who was the first to climb them all. He completed this amazing feat on April 30th 1985, when he became the oldest climber (at that time) to reach the top of Mount Everest. He was 55.

They are: Aconcagua (6,959m) in South America, Kosciusko (222.8m) in Australia, Everest (8,848m) in Asia, Elbrus (5,642m) in Europe, Kilimanjaro (5,895m) in Africa, Vinson Massif (4,897m) in Antarctica and Mount McKinley (6,194m) in North America.

Another list was proposed by the legendary mountaineer Reinhold Messner in which he substituted Oceania for Australia and chose the Carstensz Pyramid (4,884m) to replace Kosciuszko.

Pat Morrow was the first to climb this list followed by Messner himself, both in 1986. By 2003, more than 100 climbers had climbed all seven on one or other of these lists; 40% had climbed all eight to complete both lists. The fastest time to complete either list was set by a climber who made the seven ascents in about seven months, using Kosciuszko; another did it in ten months, using Carstensz Pyramid.

Carstensz Pyramid is located on what was Irian Jaya (named Papua since 2000), Indonesia, at Lat/Lon: 4.08°S, 137.18°E. It was first climbed by Heinrich Harrer who describes the experience in his book ‘I Come From the Stone Age’: ‘It's a steep granite wall with sharp good climbable rock. Only a few hundred people have climbed Carstensz due to the political instability and the fact that it is hidden in dense jungle. Be prepared to climb in snow, rain, with your gloves being torn by the sharp rock, while seeing the Freeport company tearing down other nearby mountains, the last glaciers near the equator and men wearing nothing but penis gourds!’

Harrer died in January 2006 at the age of 93. Quicktime movie of Harrer with Dalai Lama here
If you want to climb Carstensz Pyramid go here


'Seven Summits'
- Dick Bass, Frank Wells (with Frank Ridgeway).
Warner Books 1988

'Seven Summits: The Quest to reach the Highest Point on Seven Continents'
- (Editor) Steve Bell (Forewords: Dick Bass and Pat Morrow).
Gramercy Books. 2006


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