Seven Summits

The world’s first person to climb all Seven Summits, which are the highest peaks on each of the seven continents, is Richard Bass. He completed this feat in 1985.

Conquering Continents: The Remarkable Story of the First Seven Summits Climber

The Seven Summits challenge has long captivated the minds of adventurers and mountaineers around the world. Standing atop the highest peaks on each continent is a monumental achievement that represents courage, endurance, and the pursuit of human potential. In this article, we delve into the history of this incredible feat and uncover the pioneering individual who was the first to conquer the Seven Summits.

An Ambitious Endeavor

The concept of climbing the Seven Summits took shape in the mid-20th century when mountaineers began exploring and conquering the world’s highest peaks. Establishing a clear set of criteria for what constitutes the Seven Summits was essential to the challenge, with the inclusion of both the Messner and Bass lists.

The Seven Summits Challenge

The Seven Summits challenge involves climbing the highest peak on each of the seven continents. These continents and their respective highest summits are as follows:

Asia – Mount Everest – 8848 m
South America – Aconcagua – 6962 m
North America – Denali (formerly known as Mount McKinley) – 6190 m
Africa – Kilimanjaro – 5895 m
Europe – Mount Elbrus (in the Caucasus Mountains) – 5642 m
Antarctica – Mount Vinson – 4892 m
Australia/Oceania – Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) or Mount Kosciuszko (depending on variations) – 4884 m / 2228 m

Seven Summits
Seven Summits. Image Credits – Google.

Richard Bass Takes the Lead

In the annals of mountaineering history, Richard Bass stands tall as the first person to complete the monumental task of climbing all the Seven Summits. Born in 1929, Bass was an American businessman and outdoor enthusiast who possessed an insatiable thirst for adventure.

Richard Bass - First Person To Climb All Seven Summits
Richard Bass – First Person To Climb All Seven Summits. Image Credits – Google.

The Successful Ascent

In 1985, Richard Bass became the first person to climb all Seven Summits. He was a businessman and enjoyed climbing mountains as a hobby. In just one year, in 1983, he climbed six of the peaks: Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro, Mount Elbrus, Mount Vinson, and Mount Kosciuszko. Bass climbed these peaks with his friend Frank Wells, future president of The Walt Disney Company, and different mountain guides. Starting in 1983, Bass and Wells made multiple guided attempts to climb Mount Everest, which is the highest and toughest peak on the list. Wells chose to forego further attempts at Everest and died in 1994. On April 30, 1985, Bass reached the summit of Mount Everest. He was guided by an experienced mountaineer named David Breashears. After his achievement, Bass co-authored a book called “Seven Summits” which tells the story of his incredible journey.

The Legacy of Richard Bass

Bass’s achievement not only showcased his personal determination but also inspired countless others to pursue their dreams and push the boundaries of what they believed to be possible. His passion for climbing left an indelible mark on the mountaineering community, with his accomplishment serving as a milestone in the history of high-altitude exploration.

Subsequent Accomplishments

Following Richard Bass’s historic feat, many mountaineers have pursued the challenge of conquering the Seven Summits, adding their names to the list of those who have completed this extraordinary endeavor. However, it is Bass’s name that will always be associated with the honor of being the first to achieve this remarkable feat.


Richard Bass’s determination, courage, and love for outdoor adventure led him to become the first person to conquer the Seven Summits. His successful completion of this incredible challenge in 1985 etched his name into mountaineering history and continues to inspire climbers worldwide. Bass’s achievement stands as a testament to the indomitable human spirit and the relentless pursuit of reaching new heights.

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