Why does Steve Plain feel compelled to climb 8 Summits?

It is popularly known as the 7 summits, and that’s how everyone refers to them. But even Steve Plain, in setting a new record time (117 days) in completing them all, felt compelled to do both Carstenz Pyramid in Indonesia and Kosciusko in Australia. Perhaps his being Australian had something to do with it?  And certainly leading a troop of kids in wheelchairs up to the top as part of the Rotary Kosciusko Challenge is highly commendable.

Yet on on his site, details are left off for Kosciusko, and his map and video makes no mention – is ascending a peak of 2,228 meters with a trail up to the top just not really worth mentioning?

Is Kosciusko little more than a continental embarrassment for climbers?

We can blame Messner and Morrow for this, who unable to accept Dick Bass’s triumph, popularized Carstenz and claimed it as their own, to the extent that there is now a list of who has done one, who has done the other, and who, like many of us, have done both.

For many years I had little enthusiasm for doing all eight, my defense being that a real geographic continent was well documented.  Whether you went for geographical boundaries, politics or tectonics, Australia won on both fronts.

As Glenn Porzak, past President of the American Alpine Club wrote in ‘Continental Divide’ and that I republished in an appendix to my book, To Everest via Antarctica,

Technicalities, politics and philosophy aside, two facts stand out. New Guinea is an island, and Carstenz is the highest mountain in the world situated on an island. Therefore, Kosciusko is the seventh summit. As the highest mountain in the world not located on a continent, Carstenz is surely the eighth.

An easy 30 minute approach to Carstenz, perhaps more fun to walk

Kudos to Steve Plain for fitting all 8 summits in, for still setting a world record in the process, and to rolling along to the top of Australia with a group of kids who certainly must have enjoyed their ascent.