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The Seven Summits


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Mount McKinley
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Mount McKinley
North America

McKinley is the northernmost major peak in the world, covered by the largest expanse of snow and ice on any mountain. Temperatures on McKinley, which can fall to minus 150° with wind chill, are among the coldest anywhere on Earth.

Location: Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Elevation: 20,320 feet

First ascent: Walter Harper, Henry Karstens, Hudson Stuck & Robert Tatum, U.S., 1913

About the name: Named after American President William McKinley. Most mountaineers and Alaskans call this mountain Denali, which in the local Athabascan language means "The High One." Discussion remains of officially renaming the peak Denali.




Cerro Aconcagua
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Cerro Aconcagua
South America

The second highest of the Seven Summits, Aconcagua is sometimes called a mountaineering "bargain" because of its disproportionate ratio of elevation to effort. Climbers have tackled it on skis, mountain bikes, even motorcycles. However, this mountain should be no means be taken for granted. An average expedition takes 18 days, and many people have died from freezing, altitude sickness, and other causes while attempting to scale it.

Location: Cordillera Andes, Argentina

Elevation: 22,835 feet

First ascent: Matthew Zurbriggen, Swiss guide on an English expedition, 1897

About the name: Aconcagua comes from the traditional Incan name, Ackon Cahuak, meaning "White Sentinel."




Gora Elbrus
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Gora Elbrus
Europe

The twin-peaked Elbrus (or "Gora Elbrus," using the Russian word for mountain) offers climbers a formidable challenge. Moist air rising off the nearby Black Sea produces impenetrable blizzards and frigid temperatures, feeding the mountain's maze of 22 glaciers and fortifying its 56-square-mile ice cap, which is hundreds of feet deep in some areas.

Location: Caucasus Mountains, Georgia

Elevation: 18,481 feet

First ascent: Killar Khasirov, Circassian tribe, 1829 (unconfirmed); Douglas W. Freshfield, Adolphus W. Moore & C.C. Tucker, England, with French guide Françoise Devouassoud, 1868 (confirmed)

About the name: Also called Elborus locally, the derivation of this mountain's name is not known.




Mount Kilimanjaro
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Mount Kilimanjaro
Africa

Kilimanjaro is topped by three dormant volcanic summits, Kibo (19,340 feet), Mawenzi, (16,896 feet), and Shira (13,140 feet). Its fabled glaciers, some of the very few on the African continent, are rapidly disappearing.

Location: Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania

Elevation: 19,340 feet

First ascent: Hans Meyer, Germany & Luwig Portscheller, Austria, 1889

About the name: The derivation of "Kilimanjaro" is unknown, but it might come from two Swahili words, "Kilima" and "Njaro," which together mean to "Shining Mountain."




Mount Everest
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Mount Everest
Asia

The tallest mountain in the world, Everest looms large over the Nepal/Tibet border in the Mahalangur Himal, a segment of the 1,500-mile-long Himalayan mountain range. The Himalayas are home to four of the world's fourteen peaks over 26,000 feet tall.

Location: Mahalangur Himal, Nepal/Tibet

Elevation: 29,028 feet

First ascent: Sir Edmund Hillary, New Zealand & Tenzig Norgay, Nepal, 1953

About the name: Named after Sir George Everest, British Surveyor General in India, mid-19th century. Everest is known by Tibetans as Chomolungma, "Goddess Mother of Earth" and by Nepalese as Sagarmatha, "Goddess of the Sky."




Puncak Jaya
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Puncak Jaya
Australasia

This limestone peak, perennially shrouded in mist, made slick by rain, and pelted with hail, rises out of an area of thick jungles and mangrove swamps in Irian Jaya, the western half of the island of New Guinea. Australasia, which geographers consider the true Down Under continent, also includes Australia, New Zealand, and the island nations of the South Pacific.

Location: Snow Mountains, Irian Jaya

Elevation: 16,020 feet

First ascent: Heinrich Harrer, Austria; Bert Huizinga, The Netherlands; Russel Kippax, Australia & Philip Temple, New Zealand, 1962

About the name: Puncak Jaya means "Victory Peak" in Indonesian. The mountain is also known as Carstensz Pyramid, named for Dutch explorer Jan Carstensz, who was the first European to sight the mountain in the 17th century, and for its pyramid-like shape.




Vinson Massif
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Vinson Massif
Antarctica

Vinson dominates a landscape of stark purity, where nothing other than ice, snow, and barren rock stretch as far as the eye can see. Antarctica, with Vinson at its ceiling, is the coldest and driest desert on Earth, receiving less than two inches of precipitation per year. Most of the snow on the mountain arrived there on the wind, blown from other parts of the continent.

Location: Sentinel Range, Ellsworth Mountains

Elevation: 16,067 feet

First ascent: Nicholas Clinch, J. Barry Corbet, John P. Evans, Eiichi Fukushima, Charles Hollister, William E. Long, Brian S. Marts, Peter K. Schoening, Samuel C. Silverstein & Richard W. Wahlstrom, U.S., 1966

About the name: Named after Carl Vinson, a U.S. Congressman from Georgia (1914 to 1965) who supported Antarctic research. A "massif" is a large mountain that forms an independent portion of a mountain range.




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Volcano Above the Clouds
Vanishing Into Thin Air

Vanishing Into Thin Air
Glaciers are shrinking, not just on Kilimanjaro but worldwide. Does it matter?

Tour Kilimanjaro

Tour Kilimanjaro
Visit the peak's six ecological zones, from steamy rain forests to arctic summit.

The Seven Summits

The Seven Summits
Explore the highest mountain on each of the seven continents.

Mountain Weather

Mountain Weather
Find out how mountains create their own distinct weather patterns.



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