The Rainbow Summits Project


The Seven Summits

The “Seven Summits” is a collection of mountains that is each the highest on its respective continent. It is considered to be one of the premier mountaineering challenges, as it is physically arduous, technically difficult, and resource heavy. To date, only approximately 350 people have climbed all seven mountains.

There are two different lists of mountains based on what one considers to be the highest peak in Australasia. Both lists include Everest as Asia’s highest peak, Aconcagua  as South America’s highest peak, Denali as North America’s highest peak, Kilimanjaro as Africa’s highest peak, Elbrus  as Europe’s highest peak, and Vinson Massif as Antarctica’s highest peak. However, the lists differ on the peak for Australasia (Oceania): the Messner List includes Carstensz Pyramid, while the Bass List includes Kosciusko as the highest Australasian peak.

The lists are named after the climbers who completed each respective list first, Dick Bass and Reinhold Messner. Bass, a wealthy businessman from Texas, was the first mountaineer to successfully ascend the Seven Summits using the Kosciusko list. Messner followed in 1986, tacking on the very technically difficult and remote Carstensz Pyramid to Bass’s list. Because of the added challenge of climbing Carstensz Pyramid, only 30% of Seven Summits climbers choose to attempt that peak and complete the Messner List.

Cason is climbing all eight of the peaks from both lists, meaning that when he completes the project he will join an elite group of fewer than 120 people who have climbed all seven mountains. He will be the first openly gay person and is expected to be the fifth youngest person ever to accomplish this feat.

For more information on each mountain, including Cason’s blog entries, see:


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