Photos from the ski trip to the South Pole under the program of the 7 Summits Club. Author: Vladimir Karakash-Solodovnikov

In January 2020, Vladimir Karakash-Solodovnikov reached the South Pole on skis. He traveled the ice of Antarctica under the program Last Degree of the 7 Summits Club as part of the ALE team. Thanks for the wonderful photos! read more

In January 2020, Vladimir Karakash-Solodovnikov reached the South Pole on skis. He traveled the ice of Antarctica under the program “Last Degree” of the 7 Summits Club as part of the ALE team. Thanks for the wonderful photos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UIAA official site: Sofie Lenaerts on top of each continent

On January 4, Belgian climber Sofie Lenaerts completed a program to climb the seven highest peaks of seven continents. She did this as part of the 7 Summit Club team. UIAA official site published an interview with the heroine of the season. read more

On January 4, Belgian climber Sofie Lenaerts completed a program to climb the seven highest peaks of seven continents. She did this as part of the 7 Summit Club team. UIAA official site published an interview with the heroine of the season.

 

UIAA official site:  Sofie Lenaerts – on top of each continent 

 

Eleven years ago, mountain climbing enthusiast, full-time employee for the Belgian Federal Police and the face of Watch Out, a weekly traffic magazine show on Belgian television, Sofie Lenaerts scaled the highest mountain range in Europe, Mount Elbrus, a dormant volcano in the Caucasus Mountains. Sofie enjoyed the experience but soon sought new challenges.

 

 

In the ensuring years followed successful summits in South America, North America and Asia. It slowly dawned on Lenaerts that she was soon halfway to conquering the mythical Seven Summits challenge, the attempt to scale the highest mountain on every continent. So it was at 19:00 on 10 January 2020 after a seven-hour climb and withstanding bitterly cold temperatures and high winds, along with climbing companions Eva Lakiere and Miguel Madrid Lopez, she took the final, emotional step of the 4892 metres up to the peak of Mount Vinson, the highest mountain in Antarctica. With this, Lenaerts made her own piece of history. The Seven Summits challenge has long been an ambition for many mountaineers. In April 1985, American Richard Bass was the first documented person to climb all seven summits. If joining an elite group wasn’t an historic enough achievement, Sofie also became the first woman in Belgium or indeed the entire Benelux to accomplish this feat. She follows in the footsteps of UIAA President Frits Vrijlandt (Netherlands), a fellow Seven Summiter.

The 44-year old is something of a self-confessed adventure junkie, enjoying a myriad of sports including skydiving, kickboxing, motorcycling, scuba diving, skiing, trail running, kite surfing, speleology, high-altitude climbing and paragliding. In 2018, she ran and cycled 270km in 24 hours, from the lowest to the highest point in Flanders, as an ambassador for the Make-A-Wish “30 days without complaining” campaign.  It is a demonstration of the level of physical and mental preparedness and determination that has allowed her to achieve what for most of us would be impossible, with months of preparation having to go into each climb.

 

THE UIAA SPOKE TO SOFIE RECENTLY TO DISCOVER MORE ABOUT HER ACHIEVEMENT, HER PASSION FOR MOUNTAINEERING AND IN LINE WITH THE UIAA’S OWN ETHICS ON MOUNTAIN SAFETY, HER BELIEF IN RESPONSIBLE CLIMBING.

When did your interest in climbing, the outdoors and mountaineering begin? And how has it evolved over time?

I was invited to go indoor climbing when I was 24 years old. After that this same person took me rock climbing in the Ardennes (Beez, Freyr, Dave). After that came via Ferrata in the Dolomites (Italy) and rock-climbing small mountains (+3000m) in France and Italy. My first “bigger” mountain was Nevado Pisco, 5752m, in Peru. After that I decided I wanted to climb more peaks like this. I went to Ecuador, Nepal, Colombia, Argentina, Alaska and step by step I started dreaming of crossing the 8000m threshold.

Your quest to scale all Seven Summits was a feat which took place over eleven years. At which stage did you really take on the challenge of climbing them all? Was it something you had in mind when you climbed Elbrus in 2009 or is it something which came to you much later?

In the beginning I didn’t plan to climb the Seven Summits. Elbrus and Aconcagua were just an opportunity and I had chosen to climb Denali as training preparation for an 8000m peak. But when two expeditions to an 8000m peak had failed, I had the opportunity to climb Everest. After that, in 2016 I had succeeded in climbing it, I decided to complete the Seven Summits.

You have mentioned in interviews only taking calculated risks and getting to the top is really only the halfway point. This is a really responsible philosophy, and one the UIAA through its work across mountain safety promotes. In a world where sometimes people want to achieve things at any cost, how important is it to you that you are a responsible climber, who respects the challenge, the mountain and the mountain environment?

I believe that good decision making can only be achieved by true experience. You need years of practice in the mountains where you need to learn step by step where the dangers lie and gradually you will also learn what your physical and mental boundaries are. If you respect the safety rules in mountaineering, you can reduce the risks to accidents and find a healthy balance between wanting to reach the summit but also knowing when it’s time to commence the ascent and return safely. The mountains doesn’t run away and a patient climber has a greater chance to grow old and tell their story, whereas eager bold climbers sometimes die young.

In terms of preparation and planning, how much time typically went into each expedition (in terms of training, route planning, organisation and what were the most challenging parts to organise)?

For a big expedition like a group expedition towards an 8000m peak, it took one year but when I climb together with my husband (Stef Maginelle – himself an expert climber and first Belgian to climb two peaks above 8000m, without oxygen, during the same expedition), it’s between six to eight months. The last expedition we did was without a Sherpa or oxygen so we only needed to organize the basecamp facilities …something these days is very easy to do. The variety of commercialized logistics organizations is wide spread.  As for training, we try to keep in shape the whole year around and one month before departure we start our hypoxic training. Depending on the physical challenge, we adjust the training where needed.

 


 

Across the seven expeditions what was technically the most challenging moment, and what emotionally was the most memorable?

 

The most technical challenge was the Everest North side but not the most beautiful experience, that would be Denali, for I love to climb independently. For Everest and Vinson, I needed to make an exception. The most emotional were Everest and Vinson. Everest because it was my first +8000 m peak and I knew my husband stood on that same point nine years before and Vinson, because it was the last of the Seven Summits. One of the other climbs – not related to the Seven Summits – I learned most from was a solo expedition to the North Side (AD+) of Khan Tengri 7010m in Kazakhstan in 2015 (pictured above). I had to set-up three high camps, using two very small tents. I spent 14 days on the mountain because of continuous bad weather, but made it to the summit even when many other expeditions of male climbers turned back. I had to use fixed ropes from previous expeditions to climb the hardest parts and in a happy coincidence I met three Belgians, two of whom also made the summit. It made for nice company and for me, this climb, is still the most beautiful experience I have ever accomplished.

After a decade long pursuit accomplishing her dream, many people would be forgiven for settling for the quieter life.  An inspiration to climbers in her home country, she will be somewhere new soon chasing her next adventure.  As she says herself, “If you can dream it, you can do it”.

 

TIMELINE OF SOFIE’S SEVEN SUMMITS

Elbroes (5642 meters), Europe. Climbed in 2009
Aconcagua (6962 meters), South America. Climbed in 2010
Denali (6190 meters), North America. Climbed in 2012
Mount Everest (8848 meters), Asia. Climbed in 2016
Puncak Jaya (4884 meters), Oceania. Climbed in 2017
Kilimanjaro (5895 meters), Africa. Climbed in 2018
Mount Vinson (4892 meters), Antarctica. Climbed in 2020

Today we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica! The 7 Summits Club congratulates everyone on the great anniversary date!

200 years ago, Russian explorers for the first time in human history saw a huge continent in the extreme south of our planet. 200 years of exploration of Antarctica! Under the sign of this date, we provided all our programs of the past ... read more

 

200 years ago, Russian explorers for the first time in human history saw a huge continent in the extreme south of our planet. 200 years of exploration of Antarctica! Under the sign of this date, we provided all our programs of the past season of ascents and trips on the Ice Continent. Three groups of the 7 Summits Club successfully raised the flags of the 200th anniversary and our Club to the highest peak of Antarctica - Mount Vinson. Our group members reached the South Pole on skis and climbed the highest volcano on the continent, Mount Sidley.

 

 

We pride ourselves on being one of leaders in organizing Antarctic travels. Climbers from different countries and continents took part in our trips. We invite everyone to join our travel to another, fabulous world, to a journey that will become one of the most striking episodes of your life! You need to decide in advance, such conditions of the game ...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos of fantastic Antarctica and greetings from Punta Arenas from the guide of the 7 Summits Club Artyom Rostovtsev

Greetings from the southern branch of the 7 Summits Club! We have finally left the most unpopulated continent. The climbing season of the 7 Summits Club in Antarctica ended successfully. Three successful expeditions to the highest point of ... read more

Greetings from the southern branch of the 7 Summits Club! We have finally left the most unpopulated continent. The climbing season of the 7 Summits Club in Antarctica ended successfully. Three successful expeditions to the highest point of the white continent!  All members used their not-so-easy chance to stand on top of Vinson Massif. And someone managed to stand on the highest volcano of the continent – Mount Sidley. The weather was very diverse. But somehow, in all three expeditions, the ascent plan was not frustrated and we had reached the top in the most favorable conditions. The most difficult moment was the evacuation in stormy weather down from the assault camp after one of the successful visits to the summit (the weather tried to leave us there for several days) and the next 8 days of waiting for departure from the base camp Vinson.  

 

The other day it will be the 200th anniversary of the discovery of the Antarctic continent by Russian researchers. We dedicated our summit climb to this date.

 

Well, now drying, fixing, packing of equipment and closing our southern branch until next season.

 

Warm greetings from the shore of the Strait of Magellan!

Artyom Rostovtsev.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summit! Oleg Mezentsev, a member of the second Antarctic group of the 7 Summits Club, climbed to the top of Mount Sidley and completed the Seven Volcanoes program

Message from Oleg Mezentsev from Sidley Volcano: I was on summit! Everything is fine, we went down to High Camp, today we spend the night here. The Basler plane is waiting for the group below, so the climbers must catch the Union ... read more

Message from Oleg Mezentsev from Sidley Volcano:

I was on summit! Everything is fine, we went down to High Camp, today we spend the night here.

 

The Basler plane is waiting for the group below, so the climbers must catch the Union Glacier before the last scheduled plane leaves for the mainland. It should take place on January 20. On it, Artyom Rostovtsev should fly to Punta Arenas with a third our group of climbers on Vinson.

 

 

 

Photo by Andrew Hughes from James Stone's blog

                                                    

 

Oleg with Nims in Moscow

 

The Third Antarctic Team of the 7 Summits Club has returned to Union Glacier and wishes Alex Abramov a happy birthday!

Hi Seven Summits! This is Artyom Rostovtsev. My team and I are located about 17 thousand kilometers from Moscow. The place is called Union Glacier. Yesterday morning, we successfully escaped from the Massif Vinson assault camp ... we walked ... read more

Hi Seven Summits! This is Artyom Rostovtsev. My team and I are located about 17 thousand kilometers from Moscow. The place is called Union Glacier. Yesterday morning, we successfully escaped from the Massif Vinson assault camp ... we walked a very long time and then quickly flew away. It was a very busy day. Everything turned out fine, we returned to the Union Glacier. We can consider our ascent completed and successful!

 

 

Yesterday was a crazy day and  we forgot to congratulate the President of the 7 Summits Club Alexander Abramov on his birthday.

 Alex! Happy Birthday!

 And also our good cook Pato joins, which was with us on Everest:

 Alex! Happy Birthday!

 

 

Oleg Mezentsev, a member of the second Antarctic group of the 7 Summits Club, goes on an assault on Mount Sidley to complete the program of Seven Volcanoes

Message from Oleg Mezentsev from Sidley Volcano: Hello from Antarctica! I report: we are in Low Camp, in the morning we plan to climb the summit. Wish us good luck! The ALE team arrived in the Sidley Volcano area on Monday, January 13th. ... read more

Message from Oleg Mezentsev from Sidley Volcano:

Hello from Antarctica! I report: we are in Low Camp, in the morning we plan to climb the summit. Wish us good luck!

 

 

The ALE team arrived in the Sidley Volcano area on Monday, January 13th. However, weather conditions did not allow to begin  climbing in the first three days.

 

ALE Team on Sidley (James Stone's blog post)

 

 David Roskelley (USA) *

Vaughan de la Harpe (South Africa) *

Andrew Hughes (USA)

Arthur Marsden (South Africa) *

Oleg Mezentsev (Russia) *

Donald O’Connor (South Africa)

Roxanne Vogel (USA)

Rob Williams (South Africa)

Andy Chapman (UK - ALE guide)

Josh Hoeschen (USA - ALE guide)

 

* - those who, if successful, complete the Seven Volcanoes program.

 

Andrew Hughes, Roxanne Vogel and Oleg Mezentsev climbed Vinson before flying to Sidley.

 

 

Oleg Mezentsev in Punta Arenas

Artyom Rostovtsev from Antarctica: the third group of the 7 Summits Club climbed to the top of Vinson Massif and rests in the High Camp

Hi Seven Summits! This is Artyom Rostovtsev. We arrived at High Camp about forty minutes ago. The weather is excellent, there is no wind. But tomorrow we will not go to the top. Because we dont need it anymore, we were there today. And now ... read more

Hi Seven Summits! This is Artyom Rostovtsev. We arrived at High Camp about forty minutes ago. The weather is excellent, there is no wind. But tomorrow we will not go to the top. Because we don’t need it anymore, we were there today. And now we went down to the assault camp. And tomorrow, our direction will be only down. Even we hope to fly to Union Glacier on the same day. Best regards! From the terribly sunny, summer Antarctica, from the whole team!

 

 

 

The Third Antarctic Group of the 7 Summits Club climbed to the Low Camp on the slopes of Vinson Massif

Hi Seven Summits! Happy Old New Year to all! Who can hear us. This is Artyom Rostovtsev from Antarctica. We have a new group, the Vinson program, the third in a row. Today we advanced towards Low Camp. Great pace, unusually fast. The ... read more

Hi Seven Summits! Happy Old New Year to all! Who can hear us. This is Artyom Rostovtsev from Antarctica. We have a new group, the Vinson program, the third in a row. Today we advanced towards Low Camp. Great pace, unusually fast. The weather is favorable, we hope that the same weather will be until the day of our ascent. Everything is fine with us, we eat well. The sun is all day, we have summer. We are sunbathing. A bit of physical labor at the march and  during arrangement of the camp ....

 

 

 

South Pole! The group of the 7 Summits Club reached the South Pole on ski, in the framework of the program "Last Degree"

Message from Elena Abramova, Manager of the 7 Summits Club from Punta Arenas: South Pole! The 7 Summits Club group has successfully reached the southernmost point of the planet on skis under the Last Degree program. Vladimir and Pavel ... read more

Message from Elena Abramova, Manager of  the 7 Summits Club from Punta Arenas: South Pole! The 7 Summits Club group has successfully reached the southernmost point of the planet on skis under the Last Degree program. Vladimir and Pavel returned to Punta Arenas this morning. They are all right.

 

 

 

 

The second Antarctic group of the 7 Summits Club safely returned to Punta Arenas. Photos

Message from Elena Abramova, the 7 Summit Club Manager from Punta Arenas: This morning, the second group of our climbers on Mount Vinson successfully landed in Punta Arenas! read more

Message from Elena Abramova, the 7 Summit Club Manager from Punta Arenas: This morning, the second group of our climbers on Mount Vinson successfully landed in Punta Arenas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The third group of the 7 Summits Club arrived at the Base Camp of Mount Vinson

Hi, Seven Summits from the Extreme South! This is Artyom Rostovtsev, Massif Vinson Base Camp. We started with the third expedition of the 7 Summits Club on Mount Vinson. Today, members of the second group flew away to Union Glacier. Now ... read more

Hi, Seven Summits from the Extreme South! This is Artyom Rostovtsev, Massif Vinson Base Camp. We started with the third expedition of the 7 Summits Club on Mount Vinson. Today, members of the second group flew away to Union Glacier. Now they are in civilized conditions and will soon fly to Punta Arenas. Well, we are starting our third expedition. The members have already arrived, settled down, slightly adapted in the base camp. Tomorrow we plan to move to Low Camp. The weather is great, sunny. For everyone, sunny and snowy greetings from Antarctica! Artyom Rostovtsev and the team.

 

 

 

The group of the 7 Summits Club with a guide Artyom Rostovtsev is waiting for the fifth day for a plane at Vinson's base camp

This is Artyom Rostovtsev, Antarctica, Vinson Massif. Base Camp, fifth day at the base camp. Unfortunately, the weather is such that we are not yet taken to Union Gletcher. Tomorrow we go on a hunger strike until we fly out. That is, until ... read more

This is Artyom Rostovtsev, Antarctica, Vinson Massif. Base Camp, fifth day at the base camp. Unfortunately, the weather is such that we are not yet taken to Union Gletcher. Tomorrow we go on a hunger strike until we fly out. That is, until we are taken out. In general, things are going well. The weather is just foggy, but it does not disturb anyone. We are all waiting for departure. Well and accordingly, tomorrow group should change if the previous one flies out. A new one arrives, with it I will go to climb the mountain. And now - Bye-bye!

 

 

 

The 7 Summit Club group, after successfully climbing to the top of Vinson Massif, went down to the base camp and celebrates the victory!

Hi 7 Summits! Again it is Antarctica, the far south, the Vinson Massif. Today at High Camp, the weather is bad again. Strong wind. Moreover, the forecast is not very favorable in the coming days. It was possible for us to stay in High ... read more

Hi 7 Summits! Again – it is Antarctica, the far south, the Vinson Massif. Today at High Camp, the weather is bad again. Strong wind. Moreover, the forecast is not very favorable in the coming days. It was possible for us to stay in High Camp, but the deterioration of the forecast drove us down. We were slightly affected by the wind on the descent, but now we all happily celebrate our success at the Vinson's base camp. You can congratulate us! Artyom Rostovtsev, head of the expedition to the Vinson Massif. And a successful expedition! All other teams sit in the High Camp and wait for the weather.

 

 

Summit! Group of the 7 Summits Club is resting in Vinson's High Camp after a successful climb to the top of Massive Vinson

Hi 7 Summits! Welcome to Antarctica, Mount Vinson High Camp. Now we have such a wind, bad weather. Everyone is sitting on tents, hiding. I dont even know what people will do? How to go to the summit? For some reason, this morning, looking ... read more

Hi 7 Summits! Welcome to Antarctica, Mount Vinson High Camp. Now we have such a wind, bad weather. Everyone is sitting on tents, hiding. I don’t even know what people will do? How to go to the summit? For some reason, this morning, looking at the forecast that it is getting worse, we decided to climb. And climbed! The only team! Yes! And now everyone envies us! It’s true, it’s not clear how much time we will spend in the High Camp with such bad weather. But the sun is shining and we hope that we will come down soon. Artyom Rostovtsev, Antarctica, High Camp.

 

Congratulations to Sofie Lenaerts on completing the Seven Summits program!

 

 

 

 

The group of the 7 Summits Club in Vinson's High Camp is preparing to storm the summit

Hi 7 Summits! This is Antarctica, Vinson Massif, Artyom Rostovtsev. I am calling from the High Camp. Yesterday, January 1st, we had a legal day of rest. We rested. We repackaged our equipment, decided what to take up. Yesterday, we quickly ... read more

Hi 7 Summits! This is Antarctica, Vinson Massif, Artyom Rostovtsev. I am calling from the High Camp. Yesterday, January 1st, we had a legal day of rest. We rested. We repackaged our equipment, decided what to take up. Yesterday, we quickly moved to the High Camp.

It's morning already, the sun has risen. Weather is windy, sunny ... Wish us good luck! Most likely, we will go today to storm the summit.

 

 

 

 

Audio message from Antarctica: the second group of the 7 Summits Club is already in the Vinson's base camp

Hi 7 Summits! This is Artem Rostovtsev. From Antarctica. Yesterday, we flew from Vinson's base camp to Union Glacier. And today, the first team have left Antarctica. We have a changeover. It was a great team, it was fun. But now, with new ... read more

Hi 7 Summits! This is Artem Rostovtsev. From Antarctica. Yesterday, we flew from Vinson's base camp to Union Glacier. And today, the first team have left Antarctica. We have a changeover. It was a great team, it was fun. But now, with new forces we returned to  the Vinson's base camp, for the next ascent. With a new group. Today we are perfectly located, tomorrow we move to the Low Camp. We are acting on the program. The weather is favorable. The sunny, snowy climate of Antarctica

 

 

 

...

Climbing Mount Vinson. Photos by the members of the first Antarctic group of the 7 Summits Club

On December 26, the first season group of the 7 Summits Club successfully climbed Mount Vinson Massif, the highest point of Antarctica. Group guide Artem Rostovtsev stayed on the Ice Continent to work with next groups. And the members ... read more

On December 26, the first  season group of the 7 Summits Club  successfully climbed Mount Vinson Massif, the highest point of Antarctica. Group guide Artem Rostovtsev stayed on the Ice Continent to work with next groups. And the members landed safely in Punta Arenas, where, with the help of Lena Abramova, they transferred these photos to us. Almost everything is clear from its without words. Travel succeeded! Antarctica is a real fairy tale!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summit! The 7 Summits Club team climbed the highest point of Antarctica Mount Vinson

Artem Rostovtsev, Guide of the 7 Summits Club: Hi 7 Summits! Yesterday all the teams in the High camp planned, including us, to climb to the top today. But somehow in the evening there was a strong wind that only a couple of teams ... read more

Artem Rostovtsev, Guide of the 7 Summits Club:

 Hi 7 Summits! Yesterday all the teams in the High camp planned, including us, to climb to the top today. But somehow in the evening there was a strong wind that only a couple of teams started in the morning. One quickly turned around, and only one, crazy team, reached the top. I don’t understand why, during radio communications, to this team turned “the Russians”, that is, the Russian team. After all, this team included: a resident of Hong Kong, a Hindu, by the way, the youngest woman summiter of Everest, a citizen of Poland and a representative of Ukraine. Well, maybe I even guess - because their guide was Russian. It was the 7 Summit Club team!  We climbed on, returned, we are tired. Thank you all for your attention! Going to sleep!

 

 

 

Audio message from Antarctica: a group of the 7 Summits Club climbed into High Camp and is preparing to storm the summit of Mount Vinson

Artem Rostovtsev, the 7 Summits Club guide: Hi 7 Summits! Once again there is Antarctica the High camp at Mount Vinson. Today we reached it by the whole team. Now we already have had a dinner. Everyone feels good enough, cheerfully. ... read more

Artem Rostovtsev, the 7 Summits Club guide:

Hi 7 Summits! Once again there is Antarctica – the High camp at Mount Vinson. Today we reached it by the whole team. Now we already have had a dinner. Everyone feels good enough, cheerfully. Our plan is following: get enough sleep, have a good breakfast and go to the summit. Climb to the highest point tomorrow.

In fact, we will report on our accomplishment. Best regards again, everyone! From the international group of the 7 Summits Club. We are from Russia, Ukraine, Hong Kong, Poland and India!