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Humans have had a fascination with mountains since the beginning of time. The ancient Greeks even believed that the gods lived on the highest mountain in the area: Mount Olympus. People have always been trying to climb them to reach the top of the world. The Seven Summits are the highest points on each continent. Climbing all of them in the quickest time is a coveted record by mountain climbers all over the globe. The current record is held by an Australian named Steve Plain, who reached all seven summits in 117 days! Here the seven summits: the highest peaks on each continent.

Carstensz Pyramid – Australasia/Oceania

View of Carstensz Pyramid
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The Carstensz Pyramid is the tallest mountain in Oceania and is located in Indonesia. It goes by many names, but the most common are the Carstensz Pyramid or Puncak Jaya. This impressive mountain reaches an elevation of 16,024 feet. Not only is it the highest peak in Oceania, but it’s also the highest island mountain in the world.

Mount Vinson – Antarctica

Vinson Massif covered in snow
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Mount Vinson is the most recent addition to the seven summits. People have known about the Antarctic mountain range since the 1930s, but it took until the 1960s for people to actually explore the peaks. There are five other mountains in the area that together make up the Vinson Massif mountain range.

While the climb itself is rather tame from a technical perspective, doing anything in Antarctica is a challenge. It takes 10 days on average to hike to the 16,050-foot summit of Mount Vinson. If you’re smart, you’ll do it in the summer. But just because it’s summer, doesn’t mean that it’s warm; it’s still Antarctica after all. Average temperatures hover around -29 degrees Fahrenheit for the entire climb.

Mount Elbrus – Europe

Mount Elbrus with peak through the clouds, covered in snow
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Mount Elbrus is located in southwestern Russia in the Caucus Mountains. The mountain is an extinct volcano that sometimes still emits sulfurous gasses. It’s also covered with mineral springs and 22 different glaciers. Since the 1960s, Mount Elbrus has been a popular destination for mountaineers and tourists from around the world.

There are actually two peaks on Mount Elbrus that only differ by about 200 feet in height. The highest peak is 18,510 feet tall, making it the tallest mountain in Europe.

Kilimanjaro – Africa

African wildlife standing in savanna with looming Mount Kilimanjaro peak in distance
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Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania in eastern Africa. The mountain is actually made up of three separate extinct volcanoes named Mawensi, Shira, and Kibo. The central volcano, Kibo, is the tallest peak in Africa at 19,340 feet in height and has the only permanent ice cap on the continent.

Kilimanjaro is one of the more popular Seven Summit mountains to climb, because climbers can reach the summit without the use of mountaineering equipment. The mountain is climbed by thousands of people each year.

Denali – North America

Grassy woods and lake in foreground with large mountain Denali (Mount McKinley) in background
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Denali was formerly called Mount McKinley until 2015 when it reverted back to its original Native Alaskan name. The mountain is located in south-central Alaska in Denali National Park and stands at an impressive height of 20,310 feet. When measuring the height of a mountain, you measure how high the summit is compared to sea level. To measure how tall a mountain is, you have to measure from base to peak. Officially, Denali is taller, not higher, than Mount Everest, boasting a 17,000-foot rise from base to peak compared to Everest’s 12,000-foot rise.

Aconcagua – South America

Sprawling mountain range in Chile with tallest peak of Aconcagua in distance
Credit: Jonak/ Shutterstock

Located in western South America in Argentina along the Chilean border, Aconcagua is the highest point of the Andes Mountains and the highest point in all of South America. It’s also the second-highest peak in the world.

Climbers hoping to reach the 22,837-foot high summit have to battle harsh winds, low oxygen levels and temperatures that can reach -22 degrees Fahrenheit. While the climb itself is not overly technical, the conditions are responsible for over 130 deaths. About 60 percent of the climbers who attempt to reach the summit succeed.

Mount Everest - Asia

Distant view of Mount Everest snowcapped peaks and rocky mountain range
Credit: Arsgera/ Shutterstock

Mount Everest is easily the most famous mountain in the world. It’s also the highest point in Asia and the entire world! At its peak, Everest reaches an unmatched 29,035 feet above sea level. It’s every serious climber’s dream to conquer the mountain.

The climate on Mount Everest is notoriously treacherous no matter what time of year it is. In the winter, temperatures at the summit have reached -76 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures remain at below-freezing levels even in the summer. Frostbite is extremely common. The mountain is so tall that it reaches the lower limits of the jet stream, which can cause winds in excess of 100 miles per hour! More than 300 people have died attempting to reach the summit.