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Climbing Updated: 09 Jul 2023

The seven summits of the seven continents at age 70

In many cultures 7 is a lucky number. Seven are the days of the week and the seas in the planet. According to the Bible, it took God seven days to create Earth and in Hinduism, there are seven chakras or energy centers in our body. A cat has seven lives; there are seven wonders in the world, seven capital sins, seven colors in the rainbow, seven musical notes and even Snow White befriended seven dwarves.

Fotografía de la Expedición McKinley con Carlos Soria

Superstitious or not, number 7 has been important in Carlos Soria’s life, to the point that it ended up becoming the defining feature of a challenge he set out to accomplish. In 2010, the seasoned climber completed a curious, magical and difficult feat: climbing to the top of the tallest mountain in each one of the 7 continents. And to round things off, he climbed the last one when he was, no more and no less, 70 years of age.

Carlos Soria during the climbing to the McKinley (1971)

The adventure began in 1968. By then, Carlos couldn’t even fathom that mountain climbing would become a way of life for him. Mount Elbrus (5,642 m) was his first full-fledged expedition and the first Spanish one to travel to Russia. Up until then, our country had been just a mere spectator in the mountaineering world. Carlos and his mates reached Europe’s highest summit… and a legend was born.

The next stage was the highest peak in North America, mount McKinley (6.194 m), which he climbed in Alaska in 1971. According to Carlos himself, organizing this type of expeditions back then was not an easy task: “Back then it was much harder to set up an expedition. It took a lot of money and a lot of work due to the lack of the means of communication. Today, it only takes fifteen minutes with a mobile phone”. The Aconcagua (6,960 m) would be next, in 1986.

It would take Carlos 15 years to cross off Asia’s highest mountain from his list. Mount Everest (8,848 m). In 2001, at the age of 62 and already a global icon in the world of mountaineering, Carlos Soria decided to embark in the 14 eight-thousanders challenge.

It wasn’t until 2007 that he decided to tackle the 7 summits of the 7 continents challenge: “Reaching the top of the tallest mountain in each one of the 7 continents was more a magical thing than a sporting challenge. I thought it would be a very special and beautiful way indeed to celebrate my 70th birthday. It has also given me the perfect excuse to travel and get to know very different cultures - one of the things that I enjoy the most in life,” said Soria.

Traveling to Antartida in 2007 to climb Mount Vinson (4,897 m) or the Carstensz Pyramid (4.884 m) in the Indonesian half of the Papua Island were truly engrossing experiences for Carlos, which offered him wonderful moments that will remain forever etched in his memory. “It took us six days altogether, three of them in the jungle, soaked in mud and rain up to our ears. We hiked and zip-lined our way across a part of the jungle. It wasn’t technically difficult, but rain and mud were hard to handle.”

A few days before turning 70, Carlos brought his challenge to a spectacular end. On January 23rd, Carlos Soria climbed to the top of the Kilimanjaro (5.891 m), Africa’s tallest mountain, and rounded off the circle of the seven summits of the 7 continents circle. But Carlos is a professional maverick. An insatiable athlete in good physical condition, the Avila climber set out to take on the greatest challenge of his life: the 14 eight-thousanders. And we are sure that he will also succeed at it.

The magical 7

Fotografía de Carlos Soria con la expedición Mckinley BBVA

1.- 1968 – Elbrus, Europe (5,642 m)

2.- 1971 – McKinley, North America (6,194 m)

3.- 1986 – Aconcagua, South America (6,960 m)

4.- 2001 – Everest, Asia (8,848 m)

5.- 2007 – Vinson, Antarctica (4,897 m)

6.- 2009 – Carstensz, Oceania (4,884 m)

7.- 2010 – Kilimanjaro, Africa (5,891 m)