Add to Favorite     

The Seven Summits:
History of the Seven Summits Quest

1956 - William D. Hackett
First Person to reach 5 of the Seven Summits

William Hackett
William D. Hackett, a soldier from Oregon, USA, reached the top of the Mont Blanc, France. With this, he became the first person to reach the top of five continents. In that time, the Mont Blanc was considered to be the highest mountain of the European continent. Nowadays, most accept the Elbrus, Georgia to be the highest summit in Europe. But this should not make his effort any less. The other summits that he reached were:

1947: McKinley
1949: Aconcagua
1950: Kilimanjaro
1956: Kosciuszko
1956: Mont Blanc

After reaching the Mont Blanc, he had the ambition to climb the other summits. He made attempts to climb K2 and Vinson and obtained a permit for the Everest. However due to several circumstances (lack of funds, frostbite, etc) he never made it more than 5.

Between 1956 and 1970 no real milestones were achieved. Although Dolf Reist, a Swiss climber, reached the summit of Mont Blanc in 1955 and the Everest in 1956 (only one of six people to have climbed the Everest at that time). He thought that he had a lot of time to climb the other summits and therefore made no rush to climb the other 3 summits. He completed 5 summits in 1971, six months after Namomi Uemura, a Japanese climber, who we will cover next.

1970 - Naomi Uemura
First Person to reach 5 of the Seven Summits including Everest

Naomi Uemura
Naomi Uemura started as a solo climber and reached on his own the Mont Blanc, Kilimanjaro and the Aconcagua. In 1970, he broke his habit and climbed the Everest together with his fellow countryman Teruo Matsuura. Together they claim the first Japanese’s ascent of the Everest with their South Col Route climb. Only three months after, Uemura picked up his solo climbing and achieved the summit of the McKinley, as the first solo climber. With this he was the first person to reach 5 of the Seven Summits including the Everest, but was by no means finished.

1966: Mont Blanc
1966: Kilimanjaro
1968: Aconcagua
1970: Everest
1970: McKinley

As you would expect from a real solitary adventurer, he planned to go on his own to Antarctica to climb Vinson after making the first solo trip to the North Pole. In preparation for that he did a solo winter ascent of the McKinley. He achieved this, but in his return trip, he disappeared in one of the mountain's storms.

1978 - Reinhold Messner
First Person to reach 6 of the Seven Summits
Reihnold Messner
Reinhold Messner is the first person to reach 6 of the Seven Summits, but only the fifth person to reach the Seven Summits. He was one of the most influential mountaineers of his time and was an essential architect of defining the Seven Summits. In 1978, together with Austrian Peter Habeler, the Italian reached the summit of the Everest without using bottled oxygen. Everybody was stunned as this feat was never achieved before. Together with the Carstensz Pyramid, which he climbed in 1971, he claimed to be the first person who reached 6 of the Seven Summits. After climbing Carstensz, he also hiked up the Kosciuszko in 1983, just to be sure that he got the right summit. In the same year, Messner declared that Mont Blanc was not the highest peak of Europe, but Elbrus, which is 800 meters higher. His definition was quickly adopted by others.

Over the years, he made several attempts to get to Vinson, and when he did in 1986, the chalice had already been taken by others.

1971: Carstensz
1974: Aconcagua
1976: McKinley
1978: Kilimanjaro
1978: Everest
1983: Kosciuszko
1983: Elbrus
1986: Vinson


1985 - Dick Bass
First Person to climb the Seven Summits incl. Kosciuszko
Dick Bass
Dick Bass was not a passionate climber like Reinhold Messner was nor a hardcore adventurer like Uemura, but he had the determination and the resources to make climbing the Seven Summits happen. Bas and another American named Frank Wells also helped to define the Seven Summits: they added Kosciuszko to the Seven Summits, because Kosciuszko was a peak on land mass and not like Carstensz, a peak on an island. They also added Vinson on Antarctica to the Seven Summits, to complete the list of the seven continental summits.

In 1983, Bass and Wells climbed six of the Seven Summits together with invited expert mountaineers. Then, they made a couple of attempts to reach Everest's summit, but for various reasons they failed to do so. After that last attempt at Everest, Wells made no further attempts for the Seven Summits. Dick Bass, however, joined a Norwegian expedition led by shipping tycoon Arne Naess in 1985, and was then the first person (and at that time also the oldest person who summited the Everest at an age of 55) to climb the Seven Summits.

1983: Aconcagua, McKinley, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Vinson, Kosciuszko
1985: Everest


1986 - Pat Morrow
First Person to climb the Eight Summits incl. Carstensz and Kosciuszko

Pat Morrow
Dick Bass was very lucky that he was indeed the first person to climb the Seven Summits after 2 failed attempts to the Everest. Pat Morrow, a strong Canadian mountaineer, had already climbed McKinley in 1977 and the Everest in 1982 - so he was also setting off to be the first person to reach the Seven Summits. Because he did not have the financial resources of Bass, he only managed two more peaks (Aconcagua and Kilimanjaro) before Bass reached the Everest. But in 1986, by reaching Elbrus, he became the first person to reach the Seven Summits with Carstensz and the first person to reach the Eight Summits.

1977: McKinley
1981: Aconcagua
1982: Everest
1983: Kilimanjaro, Kosciuszko
1985: Vinson
1986: Elbrus, Carstensz