This past weekend I was able to hike up Mt. Kosciuszko in Australia which marked the tallest point on the continent and number six on my journey to climb to the tallest point on each of the seven continents.
There has been plenty of debate regarding how one would define the 7 summits. The source of the discrepancy fundamentally boils down to ego, IMO. When Dick Bass (famous wealthy business man, owner of Snowbird Ski resort, etc) initially set out to climb the tallest point on each continent, he had selected the peak in Australia as fitting the definition. About the same time Bass was working towards this list, Pat Morrow was also working towards the same goal. After Bass had completed the 7, Morrow did a bit of sleuthing and was convinced that Irian Jaya in Indonesia was part of the the “Australasia” continent, therefore making Puncak Jaya (aka Carsztensz Pyramid) the tallest point – and much more challenging – on the continent. Adding to the debate, famous climber, Reinhold Messner was to finish out his 7 summit circuit (after having climbed the 14 8000meter peaks without O2) and opted to include Carstensz. I would be willing to bet that if an amateur like Dick Bass hadn’t gone after this quest – Reinhold & Pat’s egos probably would have been satisfied with Kosciuszko and the traditional understanding of a “continental high point.” Given that Carstensz is not exactly a cheap endeavor (roughly $20k USD), not the least of which would be the risk of mutiny of local tribes, death threats and imprisonment of climbers – I’ve opted for what is known as the Dick Bass list.
It certainly is a bit of a joke as it relates to the other mountains in the circuit given that it took us about an hour to get to the top. We had a few beers in the pack and had plenty of time to enjoy the views, great weather and other hikers, many of whom were not what you’d call a “climber” by any stretch. It was still a great day, and I only wished that it was more feasible to bring beers to the other summits! I’m certain that if I’m fortunate enough to make the summit of Everest in a few weeks that I’d be longing for the leisurely stroll which was Kozy.