Meet Samantha Larson. Earlier this year, this 18-year old American became the youngest foreign woman to climb Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. She is also the youngest woman ever, to have climbed all the seven summits, the highest peaks of the seven continents.(for more info check out www.7summits.com)
The mountain climbing saga began in 2002 when Samantha turned twelve. She and her dad climbed 19,340ft (5,895 meters) to the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the tallest mountain in Africa. They had so much fun; they decided to try to climb the rest of the seven summits.
A year later, when Samantha turned 13, the duo climbed Mt. Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America at 22,841ft (6,962 meters). The climb was longer and more challenging than the first one, with the bad weather making it extra difficult. It took Samantha and her dad two weeks to get to the peak.
The following year, when Samantha turned 14, she and her dad climbed the highest peak in Europe - Russia's Mt. Elbrus, which stands at 18,506ft (5,642 meters). The climb took them four days.
Australia was the next continent to conquer. However, this was relatively easy as Australia's highest peak, Mt. Kosciuszko stands at just 7,310ft (2,228 meters) and is a day hike from a comfortable ski resort. Samantha and her dad were joined by her older brother Ted. While Samantha got some blisters because of her new snowshoes, she ended the day relaxing at the ski resort.
The same year (2005), Samantha and her dad went on to climb Antarctica's highest peak, Mt Vinson - Massif (16,065 ft, 4,892 meters). They spent Christmas on their way up to the peak, calling their family via satellite phone.
North America's Mt. McKinley (Denali) was the next challenge. This mountain in the heart of Alaska is dubbed the coldest mountain in the world, with temperatures reaching -40 degrees Fahrenheit at night. The summit stands at 20,320ft (6,194 meters).
Samantha, who by now was a senior in high school, was accepted at Stanford University in California. She deferred her admission by a year to prepare for her biggest and most challenging climb ever - Mt. Everest. This was the last of and the most difficult of the seven summits. They successfully made it to the peak on May 17, 2007.
With the seven summits conquered, Samantha recently climbed what she calls the "eighth" of the seven summits - the Carstensz Pyramid, the highest peak in the continent of Oceania (a group of islands in South Pacific Ocean). In her blog, Samantha says that while it was just a four-day climb, it was more technical (needed rope and protection against falls) than any of the seven summits. To read in detail about each of her climbs, go to www.samanthalarson.com.