Johnny Collinson youngest to climb Seven Summits


Johnny on the summit of Carstensz Pyramid, Papua.

Finished. Wow. It took all year, but I have successfully finished the Seven Summits in 367 days at the age of 17. The last peak I climbed on my quest was the Vinson Massif in Antarctica. I'm not going to lie, this was one of the more interesting places we traveled, and it had no culture. The sun was up 24/7, the temperatures were +.01 degrees at the warmest, and the skiing was no joke. We spent nearly a week in Punta Arenas, Chile, waiting for the weather to clear in Antarctica so that we could land the giant Russian cargo plane on the ice.

After arrival, the next day we flew on a Twin Otter to base camp and started the climb. The going was easy, basic glacier travel, except you could sunburn one side of your face and frostbite the other at the same time. I skied the fixed lines, the steepest part of the climb on our "rest" day. A little scary, skiing windblown sugar-crust on blue ice. First turn, and my Dynafit binding blew off, sending me sliding at 30 mph down a 45-degree slope in pretty much the last place you would want to get hurt. Luckily I was able to self arrest, and so was my ski, upside down 30 feet above me. I checked out the binding, deemed it ok and finished the ski much slower and more cautiously. After that, we summited on Jan. 18 in -38-degree F weather and 50-knot winds.

Being done with my quest is almost sad, because now I don't know when I will be traveling out of the country again. Bu then again, I feel so lucky to have finished my goal on the first try. No major mishaps, no major injuries, it's awesome. I was pretty spoiled this year, being able to see all the corners of the earth at such a young age. I traveled to Argentina, Nepal, Alaska, Russia, Tanzania, Papua New Guinea, and Antarctica. I learned so much about the world, and how cultures view their homes/environments. Staying in places where the people grew all their food, and made all their shelter was eye-opening. They value every aspect of the places they live in. After being in such a down-to earth sort of place, I came home and saw our own culture in a whole new light. I want to start sharing all these experiences with youth/ people here in America, and hopefully get them excited to start finding new passions in the outdoors.

It's almost surreal, to pick up a book or look at a picture somewhere, and know that I have been there. To read about Everest, and be able to picture the words is crazy. The feeling of standing up on top is so indescribable. Just imagining two months of work to get to one point is crazy. I think about every step, every night I was there, and how bad I wanted to get to the top. Then in one 15-hour summit push it's all over. The 20 minutes up top is the fastest of your life. All of a sudden you are headed down from the goal you aspired so long to reach. A little bit sad.

Now, I have a full competition schedule for skiing this winter, and no plans ahead of that!