Thousands have climbed Mount Everest… Hundreds have climbed the Seven Summits… A few have climbed some of the seven summits from sea level…

No one has climbed all seven from sea level.

Your typical Seven Summit endeavor can take years to complete, the original Seven Summits took 4 and is actually a really good story in its own right. Dick Bass was a 50-year-old entrepreneur and skiing enthusiast with so little climbing experience you could have called it non-existent, yet after a climb in Alaska with some friends, he thought what a good idea it would be to climb the highest peak on each continent. Something professional climbers of the time hadn’t completed. He wasn’t a professional climber, he wasn’t even a professional adventurer. Just a normal guy. 4 years later he accomplished his goal and became the first person to climb the 7 summits, at 54 years of age. He loved adventure and challenge and that’s why he did it, something which resonates really well with me too.

On the other side of the scale the fastest professional climbers do it in anything from 7 to 12 months, with is a huge feat in itself, and there are many trying to complete just such an endeavor right now. go Pearl Going, and good luck to all the rest. I have no idea how long it’s going to take all up, but I’m going to start and just put one foot in front of the other till it’s done…

By looking at each climb, the different summit windows available throughout the year, the time it takes for the traditional climb, and then adding in the projected time it will take to walk from the sea to each base camp we start getting a pretty accurate time-table. The climbs will then need to be organised with reasonable rests in between each one, especially after Everest, and organised in such a way as to maximize experience and altitude gained.

For example, Everest is a 60 day climb during April and May and I estimate, thanks to Tim Macartney-Snape,  I will need at least another 3 months to get there (1,000 km yikes!). which makes Everest a 4-5 month expedition beginning in February at the latest. It makes sense that Aconcagua, the second highest on the list, comes before Everest so I can judge how I handle the effect of that altitude, 6,000 meters being my peak so far. It also makes sense that the first couple climbs are “easy” wins and the harder climbs are last and within site of the finish line. Put all of this together leads to the following “draft” plan.

  1. Kilimanjaro, February. 400 km route from Tango, Tanzania. 30-35 days.
  2. Denali, May. 260 km route from Kink-Fairview via the Kahiltnia glacier. 40-50 days
  3. Elbrus, August. 180 km short Route through Georgia via Zemo Svaneti National Park or a longer route from Sochi (360km). 30-40 days.
  4. Aconcagua, November. 240 km route from Concon, Chile. 35-40 days
  5. Everest, February – May. 1,000+ km route from Bakkhali, West Bengal, through India and into Nepal. 120+ days.
  6. Carstensz Pyramid, August. A short 120 km route If permission (almost impossible to obtain)can be gained from the PT Freeport Indonesia mining company to use their Grasberg mine access road otherwise it’s a much longer slog impossible to workout right now.
  7. Vinson Massif. November– December. Anywhere from 300 – 600 km depending on the sea ice coverage at the time. 40-60 days.

Starting in February, the above takes 23 months to complete, which would be very ambitious. While I’m not ruling it out, I think it will proabbaly take twice that long to complete.

As so often happens with these things, plans change and mine already have. Aconcagua is going to be my first climb and in a way it’s a good thing. While it would be good to have to do some smaller climbs first, if I can’t handle the altitude then there is no point continuing. So my plan now looks like this for the coming year (2013).

  1. Aconcagua, January. 240 km route from Concon, Chile. 30 -35 days
  2. Kilimanjaro, June. 400 km route from Tango, Tanzania. 30-35 days.
  3. Elbrus, August. 180 km short Route through Georgia via Zemo Svaneti National Park or a longer route from Sochi (360km). 30-40 days.

The next major hurdle is funding. I had always thought that a documentary about my goal or a web series of mini features or something of that sort was the perfect antidote to the number one problem I face with a goal of this magnitude, i.e. funds. Climbing the seven summits is not cheap, sites like this put the cost at around $230,000 USD which is a pretty fair estimate, although it’s probably even higher than that.

Then I need to add in the additional cost of wanting to walk to each mountain, the time that will take and the extra logistics needed, especially around accommodation, even if it’s mostly tenting and camping on the side of roads, trails and paths. Then add to that the cost of video and recording gear that can handle the extreme climates and you’re looking at a total that’s easily over $330,000USD.

If I pull in every favor, cash every cheque, chase every opportunity, hassle every friend and family member I may be able to hit 25% of what I need which is nowhere near enough. It’s a massive undertaking and I absolutely do not have the means to fund this myself, but hey, isn’t that the point of a goal, to focus the mind, stretch your abilities, push yourself to the limit and see what can be achieved.

So the plan is complete Aconcagua and see if I can generate enough interest and support after that to keep going and hopefully make a doco or film along the way.

4 thoughts on “Climbing the Seven Summits from Sea Level

  1. Bravo Dave, great goal & adventure(s) in this mission. My wife teaches with your mum; they directed me to your web page. Go hard young man, this is huge challenge with lots of rewards to be had along the way. GOD be with you brother. Rgds, Denis Marra

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