17-year old mountaineer Johnny Collinson of Snowbird, Utah has become the youngest person to climb all the Seven Summits by topping out on Mt. Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica. The teenager reached the summit, which stands at 16,067 feet, on Monday, completing a quest to reach the top of the highest peaks on all seven continents.
Collinson is still in Antarctica and hasn’t posted to his website yet, but he was climbing with a team led by guide service Mountain Madness who updated their own blog with the news of the team’s success. Johnny was joined on the summit by three other climbers as well as well known guide Willie Benegas. And as if reaching the summit wasn’t enough, the young man elected to ski back down the mountain to their campsite.
The Seven Summits have become one of the top goals for climbers and adventurers around the planet. Besides Vinson, the peaks consist of Kilimanjaro in Africa (19,340 feet), Elbrus in Europe (18,510 feet), Denali in North America (20,320 feet), Aconcagua in South America (22,841 feet), Carstenz Pyramid in Oceana (16,023 feet), and of course Everest in Asia (29,029 feet). That tallest mountain in Australia is Kosciusko, but that peak is just 7310 feet in height and is a simple walk-up, so the list was expanded to include the taller and more technically challenging Carstenz Pyramid, located in Indonesia. Most of the climbers who complete the Seven Summits actually go for all eight peaks just to cover their bases.
Collinson may not hold on to this record for long. 13-year old Jordan Romero will be going to Everest this spring to make his bid on that mountain, and if successful there, he’ll head to Vinson in the fall as well. If he nabs both summits, he’ll be just 14-years old when he is done.
The Seven Summits are the tallest mountains on each of the seven continents, and climbing them all is considered one of the premiere achievements for climbers and adventurers the world over. The concept originated with a man named Dick Bass who was the first to successfully gain this achievement back in 1985, and since then, dozens of other climbers have followed in his footsteps.
Currently, the youngest person to have climbed the Seven Summits is Samantha Larson, who accomplished the feat at the age of 18 when she topped out on Mt. Everest back in 2007. But there is another young climber looking to snatch that record, as 12-year-old Jordan Romero closes in on the mark.
Jordan, who was recently interviewed by Outside Online, caught the climbing bug when he reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, at the age of 10. After that, he made it a goal to go after the remaining summits as well, and has now successfully reached the top of Elbrus (Europe), Aconcagua (South America), Denali (North America), and Kosciuszko (Australia). That leaves Mt. Vinson in Antarctica, and Everest in Asia, as the two remaining mountains in the traditional Seven Summits. This summer, Romero will climb a mountain called Carstensz Pyramid in Papua New Guinea. Carstensz is considered the tallest mountain in Oceania, often replacing Kosciusko as the seventh summit. Jordan’s covering all his bases and climbing both, making this a Seven Summits plus One.
If everything goes as planned, the young climber will be on Everest by the time he’s 16, and finishing off his quest. Jordan says that the most difficult challenge is actually fund raising, and he estimates he’ll need roughly $180,000 to complete the Seven Summits, the bulk of which will be used on Everest and Vinson. Good luck Jordan!
I’ve had dreams of climbing Mt. Everest ever since I first read John Krakauer’s Into Thin Air. Of course, my dreams often include me casually strolling up the side of the mountain — warm cup of coffee in my hand — making it to the top of the world’s tallest mountain with minimal effort to pose for pictures in front of a flag with my own face on it. Cut me some slack…these are dreams! It turns out that Everest is a bit more difficult to climb than my subconscious — or even a teenage girl — would lead you to believe.
Samantha Larson — an 18-year-old girl from Long Beach, California — has become the youngest American to climb Mt. Everest, and the youngest in the world to climb all 7 summits.
“We made it to the top!” she exclaimed on her blog upon reaching the summit of Everest last Wednesday. “Now all we have to do is get back down…” Turns out she could be the world’s highest blogger as well!
Congratulations, Samantha — only 16 more to tie Apa!