Thirty-five years ago, Rick Ridgeway, Rick Bass, and Frank Wells set out to climb the highest mountains on seven continents. By 1985, Bass and Ridgeway had managed it: You can see the views that awaited them at Environmental Graffiti’s stunning online gallery. But did Ridgeway and Bass really deserve the accolades they received? Scientists aren’t so sure.
According to the conventional “contiguous land mass” definition of continents (the one used by Ridgeway’s team), Australia’s highest peak is the 2,228-meter Mount Kosciuszko. But if you define continents according to continental shelves (as many scientists do), then the Australia–New Guinea or Oceania continent includes Indonesia, with its far more demanding, 4,884-meter Carstensz Pyramid. By this measure, mountaineer Pat Morrow, who scaled Carstensz in 1986 after climbing the other six peaks previously, beat Ridgeway and his climbing partner to the punch.
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