Erik's 7th Continental Summit
|Elevation||7,310 feet (2,228 meters)|
|Location||New South Wales, Australia|
|Mountain Range||Great Dividing Range|
|First Ascent||1840 by Pawel Edmund Strzelecki|
|My Ascent||August 2002|
Kosciuszko is a day hike and, by far, the least difficult of the traditional Seven Summits. In fact, it's climbed by thousands of tourists a year. Kosciuszko's standing as a continental summit has been hotly contested by climbers, who find it hard to accept such a tiny bump as one of the seven.
The original list of Seven Summits, developed by Dick Bass, listed Kosciusko as the highest peak on the Australian continent. However, Reinhold Messner based his list on a different definition of a continent, in part because Kosciusko is an easy walk while Carstensz Pyramid is a serious challenge. To be sure, I decided to climb both peaks.
There is no universally accepted definition of a "continent." Depending upon which expert you consult, there are either five, six, or seven continents. Some also argue that Mount Elbrus is actually in Asia, which makes Mont Blanc the highest peak in Europe.
Australia is a very flat and dry continent with only 1% of its landmass being an alpine climate. So Kosciuszko is unique in the fact that it receives snowfall through the Australian winter, from May to September. Below the mountain is a popular ski area, so my team and I decided to celebrate my seventh summit by skiing off the top. Even though Kosciuszko is considered an easy stroll, mountains have a way of lashing out when you least expect it.