The "Seven Summits" of mountaineering are the tallest peaks on each continent. Because mountaineers cannot agree on whether to include the highest peak in Australia and Oceania as on the Australian mainland or the continent's island groups, the "Seven Summits" often includes eight mountains! From top left, in descending order of elevation: Mount Everest, Nepal and China (Asia); Aconagua, Argentina (South America); Denali, United States (North America); Kilimanjaro, Tanzania (Africa); Mount Elbrus, Russia (Europe); Mount Vinson, Antarctica; Puncak Jaya, Indonesia (Australia and Oceania); and Mount Kosciuszko, Australia.

Photographs by Barry Bishop, Jacob J. Gayer, Thomas J. Abercrombie, W. Robert Moore, Dean Conger, (all National Geographic); NASA / James Yungel; and Alfindra Primaldhi and Mass Ave 975 (both courtesy Wikimedia)
  • On May 7, 1986, Patrick Morrow reached the peak of Puncak Jaya, Indonesia, the tallest mountain in Australia and Oceania. With this achievement, the Canadian mountaineer became the first person to successfully climb the highest mountains on each of the continents—the “Seven Summits.”
     
    The Seven Summits are: Mount Everest, Nepal and China (Asia); Aconcagua, Argentina (South America); Denali, United States (North America); Kilimanjaro, Tanzania (Africa); Mount Elbrus, Russia (Europe); Vinson Massif, Antarctica; and Puncak Jaya, Indonesia (Australia and Oceania). Some mountaineers consider Mount Kosciuszko, Australia, the highest point in Australia and Oceania because it is located on the Australian mainland. Morrow was actually the first person to climb all eight peaks.
     
    Climbing the Seven Summits—or, really, the “Eight Summits,” if Kosciuszko is included—is a major mountaineering achievement. Fewer than 120 people have completed the challenge. 
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    achievement Noun

    accomplishment or successful completion of a task.

    continent Noun

    one of the seven main land masses on Earth.

    Encyclopedic Entry: continent
    mainland Noun

    continent's landmass.

    mountain Noun

    landmass that forms as tectonic plates interact with each other.

    mountaineer Noun

    someone who climbs mountains.

    peak Noun

    the very top.

    summit Noun

    highest point of a mountain.