Two well-known phrases amongst mountain enthusiasts everywhere are the “Seven Summits” and the “Volcanic Seven Summits”. Though they sound similar, they refer to two completely different things. The Seven Summits represent the highest mountains on each continent. In the same way, the Volcanic Seven Summits represent the highest volcanoes located on each continent. This article identifies the Volcanic Seven Summits of the world. It is worth noting that two of them are also considered the highest summits on the continent as well.
Seven Volcanic Summits
Ojos del Salado
The world's highest volcanic summit is Ojos del Salado in the Andes mountains between Chile and Argentina on the continent of South America. It reaches 22,615 ft (6,893 m) in elevation and is considered an active volcano. This volcano is located near the Atacama Desert and therefore has a dry climate with snow coverage that only lasts on the peak and during winter months. Ojos del Salado emitted some ash in the early 1990s, but the last known eruption occurred around 1,300 years ago.
Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is not only the tallest volcanic summit on the African continent but also the tallest summit labeling part of both the Seven Summits and Seven Volcanic Summits. This peak rises to 19,341 ft (5,895 m) above sea level and has three volcanic cones: Kibo, Shira, and Mawenzi. Mawenzi and Shira began erupting about 1 million years ago and today are extinct, but Kibo is dormant and could possibly erupt at some point in the future. Forests cover the bottom part of the volcano and are home to many animals like elephants, mongooses, and warthogs.
Europe's tallest volcanic summit is Elbrus in the Caucasus Range in Russia. This volcano is 18,510 ft (5,642 m) in elevation and is considered inactive. The last eruption happened in 50 CE. It has a permanent ice cap and 22 glaciers. Elbrus is also one of the Seven Summits, as it is the tallest summit in Europe.
Pico de Orizaba
North America's tallest volcanic summit is Pico de Orizaba, which is 18,491 ft (5,636 m) above sea level and located in Mexico, in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. It lies on the border between Veracruz and Puebla and supplies freshwater to both Mexican states. The last eruption was in 1846, and it is currently dormant.
Damavand, an 18,406 ft (5,610 m) volcano located in the Alborz Mountains in Iran, is the tallest volcanic summit in Asia. This volcanic summit is potentially active, and the last eruption occurred 7,300 years ago. Damavand is home to brown trout, mountain goats, and the Caspian snowcock bird.
The tallest volcanic summit in Oceania is Mount Giluwe at 14,331 ft (4,368 m) in elevation. This volcano is located in the Southern Highland mountains of Papua New Guinea. The last known eruption was around 220,000 years ago. Mount Giluwe climate experiences occasional snow and frost. Due to its elevation, it experiences different biomes and thus is home to a wide range of flora and fauna.
The final volcanic summit is Mount Sidley on Antarctica. This volcano is 14,058 ft (4,285 m) tall and forms part of the Executive Committee Range. This volcano is a dormant one with a 3-mile wide caldera.
Climbing the Seven Volcanic Summits
Although climbing the Volcanic Summits isn’t as popular as the Seven Summits, it is still considered a mountain climber challenge. The first ascent of Ojos del Salado was on February 26, 1937. Mount Kilimanjaro, as the highest peak in all of the African continent, and one of the Seven Summits is more popular than the other volcanic summits. It has been summitted many times. The fastest trek to the top was 6 hours and 42 minutes on August 13, 2014. Mount Elbrus, another of the Seven Summits, is also popular with climbers. In 1956, it was climbed by 400 people to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Kabardino-Balkaria becoming part of the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Pico de Orizaba hosts many climbers every year and has many routes to the top. The first ascent was in 1848. The first recorded climb of Damavand dates back to 905! Mount Giluwe was first climbed by western explorers in 1934. Finally, Mount Sidley, the most remote location, wasn’t climbed until 1990. That first ascent was part of a USAP scientific field research trip.