The Seven Summits Challenge refers to climbing the highest points in each of the seven continents.

The Seven Summit challenge is one of the grandest endeavours that can be undertaken by mountain climbers, adrenaline junkies, and dreamers alike. Besides its difficulty to pull off, from both a financial and technical standpoint, the sense of adventure surrounding it poses a romantic appeal that few mountain climbers are immune to.

In 1985, Texas Oil tycoon Dick Bass became the first man to complete the challenge. Today, around 300 people have followed his footsteps, but sometimes substituting Mt Kosciusko with Carstensz Pyramid, as the latter is more of an actual challenge. However, many ambitious climbers like to do both, just for good measure.

Here are the seven summits in order of height, even though that is just one facet of their difficulty, the other main ones being weather and the climbing abilities required.

Carstensz Pyramid (4,884m)

The Carstensz Pyramid is located in West Papua, Indonesia, towering over a lush rainforest and standing out against their green backdrop with its awe-inspiring glaciers.

What makes this peak unique and very challenging, even in a list like this, is that conquering it requires prowess in technical rock-climbing, as opposed to alpine mountaineering abilities.

The adventure here starts long before you get to see the actual mountain, as you need to go through a week-long trek through the jungle - a classic case of the journey being as important as the destination.

The actual climb is also a roughly week-long affair. Another factor that’s characteristic of the overall experience is the contrast between the muggy jungle air and the mountain climate, which can cause some heavy rains and unpredictability.

The estimated cost is between $10,000 and $15,000, and can go above $20,000 if you choose to fly with a helicopter and skip the initial trek through the jungle.

Mount Vinson (4,892m)

Vinson Massif is located in Antarctica, which is adventurous enough as it is. The area is truly otherworldly, covered in a white, barren veil that extends beyond the eyes’ reach.

Being in Antarctica, it’s the remotest destination on the list, and most lists for that matter. This, along with the steep cost - $35,000 or more, and the extreme weather, adds a sense of “once in a lifetime opportunity,” as it very likely will be something you get only one shot at.

Mount Elbrus (5,642m)

Mount Elbrus is located in the Caucasus Mountain Range in Southern Russia, right at the border between Asia and Europe, which has sparked some debate over the highest mountain in Europe. However, according to authorities on the matter, Mount Elbrus is part of Europe, and respectively of this list.

This mountain is considered a bit more straightforward to conquer in terms of technical challenges, however, this should in no way be any reason for climbers to let their guards down, as Mount Elbrus has taken, and still does, casualties.

Estimated cost is significantly lower than the other summits, starting at $1,0000 and going to $6,000 at most.

Kilimanjaro (5,895m)

Kilimanjaro is a universal dream destination, for both mountain climbers and travelers alike, as it has all the makings of an accessible, but rewarding adventure.

It’s fairly easy to climb, with the trickiest part being its altitude. Furthermore, it’s in Africa, which is a land, just daring to be explored and get lost in. Close to Kilimanjaro is the gorgeous Mount Kenya, and including it in your journey can be the cherry on top.

If that wasn’t enough, the experience is also fairly cheap and can cost as little as $1,300, and up to $6,000.

Denali (6,194m)

Denali is a tall order for anyone, and not just because of its altitude. Situated in the Alaska Range of Mountains, nearby the Arctic Circle, the weather is never really welcoming, which is why this location is often used as a preparation for the Himalayas.

One of the helpful aspects of this mountain is that there are multiple ways to climb it, suitable for different levels of experience and skill. Some routes demand less climbing prowess, but at the cost of more exposure to the extreme weather, whereas others offer the opposite trade-off.

The estimated cost starts around $5,000-$6,000 and can go up to $10,000.

Mount Aconcagua (6,961m)

Aconcagua is situated in the Andes mountain range of Argentina.

South America is permeated by a sense of mysticism, and going by the name of “Sentinel of Stone” in Quechua, the ancient local language, Mount Aconcagua certainly channels these lands’ otherworldly spirit.

Similar to Kilimanjaro, the main challenge that Mount Aconcagua poses is its height, as getting to the top goes mostly through physical abilities rather than technical ones.

The estimated cost is between $3,500 and $5,000.

Mount Everest (8,848m)

Mount Everest really needs no introduction, as the ones who dare to pursue this dream are well informed of its dangers.

Situated in the Himalayas, on the border of Nepal and Tibet, this beast’s spiritual location makes its nickname “the top of the world” seem as much literal as it does figurative. Getting there is like becoming a world champion in a sport – something that can never be taken away from you.

The Seven Summits challenge is the adventure of a lifetime, but if you can’t commit to such an ordeal, each one of those mounts will make for great life lessons and memories on its own.

Published by Zubair Hassan