The Seven Summits: It All Began 40 Years Ago Today

On Nov. 23, 1983, Chris Bonington reached the summit of Mt. Vinson alone, at 4,892m the highest peak in Antarctica. This was only the third ascent and the first time that a private, non-government expedition had reached the mountain.

Bonington was part of a group led by Dick Bass and Frank Wells, the originators of the “Seven Summits” concept that would eventually revolutionize mountaineering. They were flown to the Sentinel Range in a DC-3 piloted by Giles Kershaw, who would go on to found Adventure Network International (ANI), the incredible company that opened up inland Antarctica to the world.

On their first summit attempt, most of the group turned back in the cold, but Chris pushed on to the summit alone, where he found the ski pole left by Soviet scientist Victor Samsonov in 1979 and tied a small Union Jack flag to it. Bass, Wells, and the rest of the group summited a week later. And so it began…