Summits: Climbing the Seven Summits Solo
— Robert Mads Anderson
In the mountaineering world, "The Seven Summits" are the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. As mountaineers are always looking to be the first to do something, soon after the Seven Summits concept became popularized, many of the world's best began scrambling to climb all Seven.*
It was not an elite mountaineer, however, but rather Texas millionaire Dick Bass who first completed the Seven Summits, in 1985.
Summits — Robert Mads Anderson
That accomplishment, while certainly impressive, involved the assistance of paid guides, which for many cheapened the endeavor, or at least raised questions of climbing ethics.
Other, perhaps more jaded climbers suggested Bass try climbing the second highest mountain on each continent—a far more difficult and less marketable proposition.
Some fifteen years later, Colorado climber Robert Mads Anderson resolved to make his own bid at the Seven, with the undeniably respectable twist of doing them all solo. Summits: Climbing the Seven Summits Solo is a lush photo essay detailing Anderson's adventures.
The publisher wisely choose to make this book oversized, allowing the pages to feature poster-sized prints of spectacular mountain vistas from each of the Earth's seven continents. Each chapter serves as a virtual tour of both culture and climb in these remote locations. Like Rick Ridgeway's The Last Step, 'Summits' transports the reader to exotic locations, allowing us to visit places we otherwise would never see in our lifetimes.
Also noteworthy is Anderson's climbing style. With all due respect to Messner, Anderson ranks among the heralds of fast-and-light, alpine-style climbing. For those of us conditioned to think of Denali, Aconcagua, and of course Everest as mandatory multi-week expeditions, it is both startling and inspiring to read about Anderson's solo, minimalist ascents—even if Bass got there first.
* some debate exists as to whether or not Australia is actually a continent. If so, 7310' Kosciuszko is among the Seven. Otherwise, the whole of Australasia is counted, with Indonesia's 16,023' Carstensz Pyramid the group's highest point