The Seven Summits

Seven Summits, the name given to the highest mountains on each of the seven continents.
Mt. Everest

Facts

 

  • Mt. Everest is the tallest mountain in the world.

  • Height: 29,028 feet, or 5 and a half miles above sea level. This is equivalent to the size of almost 20 Empire State Buildings.

  • Location: part of the Himalaya mountain range; straddles border of Nepal and Tibet.

  • Named for: Sir George Everest, a British surveyor-general of India.

  • Age: approximately 60 million years old.

  • Other names: called "Chomolungma" by Tibetans and Sherpas, which means "Mother Goddess of the Earth."

  • Countries visible from the summit: Tibet, India, and Nepal.

  • At Everest's highest point, you are breathing in a third of the amount of oxygen you would normally breathe due to the atmospheric pressure.

  • Winds on the mountain have been recorded at more than 200mph.

  • One in 10 successful climbs to the summit ends in death.

  • There are estimated to be 120 dead bodies on the mountain.

  • Avalanches are the foremost cause of death, followed by falls.

  • Temperatures on the mountain can get as low as minus 60C.

  • Everest grows about 4mm higher every year due to geologic uplift.

  • Climbers can suffer acute altitude sickness as well as frost bite and hypothermia.

Mt. Elbrus

Facts:

  • Mount Elbrus is the highest mountain in Europe and the tenth most prominent peak in the world.

  • It is located in the Caucasus Mountains in Southern Russia, near the border with Georgia.

  • Mount Elbrus is a dormant volcano and was formed more than 2.5 million years ago.  There is no record of it ever erupting. However, there are about 260 square km of lava fields and volcanic debris on the mountain.

  • There is a cable car and chairlift on this mountain which was built between 1959 and 1976.

  • Approximately 30 climbers die each year while trying to ascend the mountain. This figure puts the mountain among the deadliest ones.

  • Mount Elbrus is important in Greek mythology. It is the place where Zeus imprisoned Prometheus and sent an eagle with long wings to eat his liver.

Mt. McKinley

Facts:

  • Mount McKinley, also known as Denali (since its name change in 2015), is the highest mountain in Alaska, and in North America.

  • The Athabaskan Natives originally named the mountain Denali, which means 'high one' but in 1896 a gold prospector renamed the mountain Mount McKinley after U.S. President William McKinley.

  • McKinley never visited the mountain, or even Alaska, and in 1975 the state of Alaska changed its name back to Denali. In 2015 President Obama approved the change at a federal level.

  • Denali is located in Alaska, approximately 130 miles northwest of Anchorage and 170 miles southwest of Fairbanks.

  • Denali is taller than Mount Everest when calculated by measuring the distance from base to summit. Denali's summit is 18,000 feet from its base while Mount Everest's summit is 12,000 feet from its base.

  • An explorer named Dr. Frederick Cook claimed to have made the first successful climb in 1906 but was later proven to have been untrue.

  • Denali's main summit was first successfully reached in 1913 by Walter Harper, a native of Alaska.

  • In November, 2012 a 25 cent piece depicting the mountain and the park was released by the US Mint.

Mt. Puncak Jaya

Facts:

  • Puncak Jaya, of Mount Carstensz, is the highest mountain in Indonesia, the entire island of New Guinea, and all of Oceania.

  • Puncak Jaya is the shortest of the seven summits.

  • As the tallest mountain in Oceania, the mountain reaches an elevation of 16,024 feet (4,884 m).

  • There are some that argue that Indonesia is part of Asia, but as part of the New Guinea islands, it really belongs to Oceania.

  • The mountain was created as the tectonic plates of Australian and Pacific collided.

  • The mountain was closed to mountaineers from 1995 through 2005. However, today access to the mountain is possible by way of the issue of a government permit to do so.There are still glaciers left close to the top of the mountain, but its peaks are now ice-free.

Mt. Aconcagua

Facts:

  • Mount Aconcagua, which in Spanish is Cerro Aconcagua, is in the province of western Mendoza in west-central Argentina, on the border with Chile.

  • Aconcagua is an extinct volcano that was active until a minimum of 9.5 million years ago, explaining its height.

  • Aconcaqua is a few hours’ travel from the beauteous city of Mendoza to the east and Santiago, Chile, to the west. Mendoza is usually the start and end point for expeditions.

  • It’s highly European in appearance, with cafes lining the streets and beautiful plazas all over the place.

  • Every year sees an average of three deaths on Aconcagua – mainly people who underestimated their task. Mendoza’s police department supplies a rescue team. It doesn’t cover routes on the South Wall or Polish Glacier, as they’re too risky. Help may take several hours to arrive.

  • You’ll attract a fine of $100 if you deposit rubbish, enter with a bicycle or pet or damage wildlife, plants or cultural or archaeological features. The fine goes up to $200 if you gather or burn wood or carve inscriptions on stones.

Mt. Vinson Massif

Facts:

  • With an elevation of 16,066 feet (4,897 meters), Mount Vinson is the highest mountain in Antarctica. It is located on the southern part of the main ridge of the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains.

  • Also called Vinson Massif, Mount Vinson is more than 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) from the South Pole, making it the most remote of the Seven Summits.

  • Mount Vinson is named for U.S. Rep. Carl Vinson of Georgia, who served in Congress from 1935 to 1961 and was the former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. He was a champion of government funding for American exploration of Antarctica.

  • Vinson Massif was first seen in 1958 and first climbed in 1966.

  • Though the yearly snowfall on Vinson is low, high winds can cause base camp accumulations up to 46 centimetres (18 in) in a year. During the summer season, November through January, there are 24 hours of sunlight.

Mt. Kilimanjaro

Facts:

  • Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain on the African continent and the highest free-standing mountain in the world.

  • Kilimanjaro has three volcanic cones, Mawenzi, Shira and Kibo. Mawenzi and Shira are extinct but Kibo, the highest peak, is dormant and could erupt again.

  • The mountain’s snow caps are diminishing, having lost more than 80 percent of their mass since 1912. In fact, they may be completely ice free within the next 20 years, according to scientists.

  • Approximately 25,000 people attempt to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro annually. Approximately two-thirds are successful. Altitude-related problems is the most common reason climbers turn back.

  • Hans Meyer (a German geologist), Ludwig Purtscheller, and a local named Lauwo were the first people ever to have reached the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro in October of 1889.

  • Almost every person to have summited the Mountain has recorded their thoughts about their achievement in a book that is stored in a wooden box at the top of the Mountain.

  • Virtually every type of ecological system can be found on this mountain, including cultivated land, rain forest, heath, moorland, alpine desert, and an arctic summit.

  • In January 2010, actors Jessica Biel and Emile Hirsch, along with rapper Lupe Fiasco, joined the Summit on the Summit group’s expedition to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. The purpose of the voyage was to raise awareness of the lack of clean drinking water for millions around the world.

  • Douglas Adams, the late famous author of the legendary Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, took part in a Mt Kilimanjaro hike dressed in a rhinoceros suit for the British charity organisation, Save the Rhino International.

Machu Picchu

Facts:

  • More than 7,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains, Machu Picchu is the most visited tourist destination in Peru.

  • In the Quechua Indian language, “Machu Picchu” means “Old Peak” or “Old Mountain.”

  • Machu Picchu is made up of more than 150 buildings ranging from baths and houses to temples and sanctuaries.

  • The compound contains more than 100 separate flights of stairs. Most of the individual staircases were carved from one slab of stone.

  • Although many of the stones that were used to build the city were more than 50 pounds, it is believed that no wheels were used to transport these rocks up the mountain. Rather, it is thought that hundreds of men pushed the heavy rocks up the steep mountain side.

  • The Incas were some of the best masons in the world. The structures were so well built with a technique called ashlar (stones that are cut to fit together without mortar) that not even a knife blade can fit in between stones.

  • Machu Picchu was an astronomical observatory, and its sacred Intihuatana stone accurately indicates the two equinoxes. Twice a year, the sun sits directly over the stone creating no shadow.

  • Unfortunately, most cities built by the Inca civilization were destroyed by the Spanish conquest. Machu Picchu was in a hidden location—invisible from below—and not found, making it one of the most well-preserved Inca cities and an archeological gem.

One World,
One People...

© 2016 Charles G. Irion

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