It has been said that Alexander the Great wept, and when his generals asked why he replied, “Because there are no more worlds to conquer.”
Alternately, he might have wept when he heard a philosopher discoursing about the possibility of other worlds, “Because we haven’t even finished conquering this one.”
Some folks say that they experienced a letdown upon finishing great adventures like through-hikes of the Appalachian Trail because of the culture shock of the return to the real world – they grieve because there is no more trail to hike.
I don’t want to get to the top of Kilimanjaro and then grieve because there’s nothing beyond that. I want to get to the top, celebrate our triumph, then slide down the hill and on to the next thing!
Whenever a big adventure draws near I usually begin looking past it into the future to see what might be next. If the Roaming Parkers decide that we are totally in love with mountaineering after Kilimanjaro, I want somewhere to look forward to. So I’ve done a little bit of initial Googling.
There are these lists, sort of like bucket lists for mountaineers. One is called the Seven Summits and it is intended to include the highest mountain on each of the seven continents. Now, depending on how you define a continent you might get slightly different Seven Summit lists, but they look something like…
- Europe – Elbrus or Mont Blanc
- North America – Denali
- South America – Aconcagua
- Africa – Kilimanjaro
- Asia – Everest
- Australia or Australasia – Kosciusco or Punjak Jaya
- Antarctica – Vinson
Any of these would make a great adventure, but looking through this list, Aconcagua in Argentina was the first to catch my attention. It is slightly taller than Kili but is still considered non-technical because you probably don’t need specialized equipment like ropes or supplementary oxygen.
The problem with Aconcagua (and this is just from very preliminary investigation) is it is about 10 times more expensive than Kilimanjaro!
Everest is the archetype of mountain climbing – but there are at least 2 preliminary problems with Everest as a post-Kili trek –
- It is insanely expensive, perhaps 80-100K per participant! Maybe more!
- It is insanely technical – totally beyond our skill level for the foreseeable future.
The Doable Seven Summits
This does not mean that all of the Seven Summits list is totally out of the question. There are a couple that would make a fine trip and a fine trek, including…
- Australia’s Mount Kosciusco (2228 meters)
- Europe’s Mont Blanc (4810 meters)
Let’s face it, most of the Seven Summits are going to be nothing more than a pipe dream for me for a long time if not forever. Fortunately, there are other mountain-bagging lists besides the Seven Summits. What about the Colorado Fourteeners?
The Colorado 14ers is a list of all 58 of the 14000+ foot mountain trails in Colorado. I first came across this idea of working one’s way through all 58 of the 14ers in Scott Parazynski’s book, The Sky Below, and then it cropped up again recently as I was searching for potential next mountains after Kili.
The Colorado 14ers would make for a lot of fun for a long time, it’d be more my (slow) speed starting out, and it would have the potential to be challenging even if my mountaineering skills were to grow immensely. And It’d be easier to get there and more of my price range!
You know, just in case…