The Richard Bass Seven Summits List is a list of the seven tallest mountains in each of the seven continents. The Bass List comprises Everest, Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Kosciuszko and Vinson.
If you love mountains, you’ve heard of the Seven Summits. You’ll also probably know that the Seven Summits aren’t a universal list, but a set of four variants of the seven highest mountains in each continent.
The Seven Summits don’t differ much for the continents of Aisa, Africa, Antarctica, North America and South America. But they fork away from the general line when noting the highest mountain in Europe and Australia.
Most mountaineers tend to count the Seven Summits according to the list of the legendary climber Reinhold Messner. This is the one we recognize. But there are also three other variants of that list. Today, we’re going to talk about the Seven Summits list according to another climber, Richard Bass.
Richard Bass’ Seven Summits List
Richard Bass was an American businessman and mountaineer who set out to climb the tallest mountain in each continent. Bass is considered to be the person who began the commercial guiding industry when he became the first person to be guided to the summit of Mount Everest. Whether or not that’s a positive thing, isn’t what we are judging today.
Bass was also the first person to complete the Seven Summits according to his own list, which would later be called the Bass List:
Mount Everest in Asia
This mountain really doesn’t need a formal introduction. Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world and is often referred to as “the roof of the world.” Everest stands at 29,029 ft (8848 m) tall, and the mountain straddles a few borders. Mount Everest is located in the Himalayan Mountain Range, which is known for having the tallest mountains in the world. Expeditions to Mount Everest are completed via one of two main entry points, the North Route in Tibet and the South Route in Nepal. The latter is the most popular.
Mount Everest has been the site of many mountaineering disasters like the 1996 Everest Disaster that claimed the lives of eight climbers. But it has also been the location where individual goals became human history. This is exactly what happened in 1953 when Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa became the first climbers to ever set foot on the summit of Mount Everest. From that point, the peak was an attainable conquest lusted after by every climber.
As a result of the Hillary/Norgay Expedition, the most technical part of the mountain was named the “Hillary Step.” It is located halfway between the South Summit and the Summit Proper at 28,839 (8790 m). Although, in recent years, there has been a lot of controversy over whether the 2015 Everest Earthquake collapsed the Hillary Step.
It’s a fun fact that although Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world, it isn’t the most technical. That title belongs to the beast we all know as K2, The King of Mountains.
Aconcagua in South America
The second tallest mountain on the Bass List is Aconcagua. This is the tallest mountain in the world outside of the Himalayan Mountain Range. Aconcagua is located in the Mendoza Province of Argentina, and it sits in the Andes Mountain Range. Although it is the tallest mountain outside of Asia, like Everest, is not a technical climb.
Sitting at 22,838 ft (6,961 m) tall, Aconcagua was first summited by Matthias Zurbriggen in 1897 via the Northwest Wall’s Normal Route. An expedition here has been noted as one of the most culturally satisfying, as just below sits the New World’s home of the finest wines.
Denali in North America
Third, on the Bass List, Denali stands at 20,310 ft (6,190 m) tall. This mountain is located in the Alaska Mountain Range and was the subject of a lot of controversy over its name. Denali was first summited by Hudson Stuck, Harry Karstens, Walter Harper and Robert Tatum via the South Summit Route in 1913.
Denali was formerly known as Mount McKinley, until 2015 when the name was officially reverted back to its native name.
For centuries, Denali was known to the Native Koyukon people as Deenaalee or “the high one.” The Russians called it Bolshaya Gora (big mountain), and in 1889, the peak was called Densmore’s Mountain after a gold prospector. In 1896, Denali was named Mount McKinley by a gold prospector, and it was officially changed to this in 1917 by the US Government.
Kilimanjaro in Africa
Mount Kilimanjaro is technically a volcano. It is the highest mountain in Africa and is also not considered a technical climb. Kilimanjaro stands at 19,341 ft (5,895 m) and was first ascended by Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller in 1889. Since then, the mountain has been an attraction for tourist, scientists and anthropologists who regularly study the native people who live on the base below.
The mountain itself is surrounded by plains; it is, effectively, the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. Kilimanjaro features three volcanic cones, Mawenzi, Shira and Kibo. The latter is the tallest peak and the Summit Proper.
Elbrus in Europe
The fifth mountain on the general Seven Summits list is where we run into deviations. Both Messner and Bass recognize the tallest mountain in Europe as Elbrus. The other two lists refer to Mont Blanc as the tallest.
Elbrus is located in Russia and is the tallest mountain in the Caucasus Mountain Range. This mountain is also a dormant volcano. It features two summits, the east and the west. The West Summit is the tallest peak on the mountain, and it was first ascended by a British expedition led by F. Crauford Grove, which included Frederick Gardner, Horace Walker and Peter Knubel.
Elbrus stands at 18,510 ft (5,642 m). It was here that acclaimed climber Anatoli Boukreev won a competition in 1990 between the Soviets and Americans to see who could ascend the fastest. He won via the Pruit 11 Route.
Kosciuszko in Australia
Kosciuszko is where the Seven Summits of Messner and Bass do not agree with each other. Bass notes Kosciuszko as the highest peak in Australia.
The Seven Summits, according to Bass, defined the continents by their borders, not plate distribution. Therefore, his list has Kosciuszko as the number six tallest mountain in the world, only including mainland Australia in the list vs all of Oceania. In Messner’s list, Oceania is counted, leaving the number six slot to Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid).
Kosciuszko stands at 7,310 ft (2,228 meters) above sea level. It is located in the Snowy Mountains in Kosciuszko National Park, Australia. It was first ascended by Paweł Edmund Strzelecki in 1840 when he discovered the Hannel’s Spur Track. The Hannel’s Spur Track is officially Australia’s biggest vertical ascent of 1800m. However, it should be noted that Kosciuszko is one of the least challenging climbs in the world.
This mountain was summited by native aboriginals for millennia. Over 100,00 people visit the summit each year, resulting in the construction of Australia’s highest public bathroom in 2007 on the Rawson Pass.
Vinson in Antarctica
Mount Vinson is located in the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains in Antarctica. This mountain was first discovered in 1958 by a US Navy aircraft. Subsequently, it was named after Georgia congressman, Carl G. Vinson. Vinson stands at 16,050 (4,892 m) and was first submitted in 1966 by Nicholas Clinch via the West Side.
When it was first discovered, the mountain was compiled along with the Vinson Massif as one whole mountain. In 2006 USACAN declared that Mount Vinson was separate from the Vinson Massif.
Spencer, M. “The Highest Point in Australia.” The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 Feb. 1885, pp. 7–7, Originally in print, archived online.
“Kosciuszko National Park.” Australian Alps National Parks, Australian Alps National Parks Co-Operative Management Program, 3 Sept. 2014.
“Mount Elbrus (mountain, Russia) — Britannica Online Encyclopedia.” Encyclopedia – Britannica Online Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Jan. 2017.
“Seven Summits.” Www.summitpost.org. N.p., 2006. Web. 17 Jan. 2017.