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2nd 7summits

About the second 7summits


The Seven Second Summits – the hard challenge

It has long been known that the highest mountains of the continents are not necessarily the most difficult to climb. During the conquest of the Seven Summits, it was found that the second highest mountain in Antarctica was also more difficult to climb than the highest one. Dick Bass spoke reverently about the sight of the mighty pyramide of Mount Tyree.

K2 as well as the second highest mountains in the Caucasus, Africa, Antarctica and North America proved to be the greater challenge. K2, not Mount Everest, became the hallmark as the "mountaineers mountain". The Seven Second Summits became the new challenge.


The New Zealander Rob Hall knew the situation from his own experience. He managed to climb Mount Everest relatively unproblematic, whereas reaching the top of K2 was a lot harder. Only after several attempts he succeeded. In 1994 he made an impression with his Himalayan Trilogy. He reached K2 just weeks after climbing Lhotse and his fourth Everest ascent.

The Seven Summits he had already completed. Now it was time to develop a new plan – to be the first to ascend the more challenging Seven Second Summits. In December 1995 he failed an attempt to climb the east wall of Mount Tyree. Unfortunately he died in May 1996 on Mount Everest. Hall’s preliminary list was published after his death by his climbing friend David Keaton:

- K2 (Asia), Mount Tyree (Antarctica), Ojos del Salado (South America), Mount Kenya (Africa), Shkara (Europe), Ngga Pulu (Australasia), Mount Logan (North America).


In the years after Hall’s climbing career other mountaineers tried to climb the second highest mountains of each continent. Worthy progress until the end of the first decade of the new millenium could only be made by three climbers: Arno Botha (Canada), Satya Dam (India) und Sean James (United Kingdom).

The peak list raised some questions. K2, Mount Tyree, Mt. Logan and Mount Kenya had no doubts but Australasia, South America and Europe had some open-end questions.

Is Mount Pissis higher than Ojos del Salado? In fact there was an agreement that only stand-alone mountains can count as Second Summits but where is the cutoff? 300ft. prominence like the fourteeners of Colorado, 7% of dominance or only true ultras (5000 ft./1500 m)? K2 and not the south summit of Everest is the second highest mountain of Asia, that was undoubted, but where was the limits in other mountain ranges? And which mountains were really the second highest?


After Botha, Dam and James also two German speaking mountaineers took up the same challenge, Hans Kammerlander (Italy) and Christian Stangl (Austria). Both of them were very experienced high-altitude mountaineers and so the dynamics changed and along came numerous debates and scandals.

In 2010 Stangl made a claim to have reached the K2 summit but soon afterwards it was debunked through a false photo of the summit. The background of the photo did not show the mountains as you would see them from the summit of K2. Thus Stangl was found gulity and his summit claim was rejected. He admitted the false claim triggering a scandal in the alpine world.

A similar fate befell Kammerlander in 2010 when he submitted a photo that was taken at the Philippe Peak (Logan West Peak) with the panorama view from Logan West in the background. Like Stangl at K2, Kammerlander was forced to return to Mount Logan. Regardless of which reason false summit pictures lead to rejection of summit claims. That is a fixed part of alpinism since Frederick Cook’s false summit claim on McKinley (Denali) in 1906.

And once again history repeated itself, this time on a sideshow: Arno Botha (2010) and Hans Kammerlander (2011) went to Mount Trikora independently. Both climbers due to bad weather conditions did not make it to the summit, their pictures show them on a ridge peak (Pyramid Peak) around 500 meters away and around 60 metres lower than the summit at 4730 metres high. In poor visibility the orientation on Trikora is a known issue. But due lack of altitude Trikora is not the second highest mountain in Australasia and the false claims make no difference to the statistics. Both climbers never returned to New Guinea to climb the real 2nd highest mountain, Sumantri/Ngga Pulu West Peak, leaving the Second Seven Summits unfinished.

After Christian Stangl‘s scandal he managed to return to K2 to climb its summit and subsequently succeeded in climbing all Second Seven Summits until 2013: K2 (Asia), Mount Tyree (Antarctica), Ojos Del Salado (South America), Mount Kenya (Africa), Dykhtau (Europe), Sumantri (Australasia), Mount Logan (North America).

Important Note:

All mountaineers should proof important climbs with at least one clear evidence. Different ways with different probative value: photographs, video, GPS log, log book of altimeter watch, testimonies, leave a personal item at the summit and last but not least a detailed consistent description of the entire ascent. If you made a important first ascent, publicise your proof and if you climb the Seven Summits send your proof to the website.

A lot of important ascents are very controversal and/or not reconized due to lack of released evidence or conflicting descriptions. False summit pictures are one of the few reliable ways of prooving a false summit claim which leads to disqualification. Proper documentations help to avoid any doubts of your ascent. A good example was the first ascent of the Nanga Parbat by Hermann Buhl in 1953. In addition to his summit photographs he left one of his most important pieces of equipment, his ice axe at the top of the mountain to enhance his proof of the succesful solo climb.

If someone is not successful in his or her summit climb they have to return to complete it. In 1986 Pat Morrow had to return to climb the main summit of the Elbrus after he had only been able to climb the east summit in 1983. If he hadn’t done so, he would now be famous as the climber who lost his position in the Seven Summits history because of this. That way he had only lost second place (Kosciuszko) to Gerry Roach (USA) but could clearly accomplish the historical first place (Carstensz) in 1986.