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A Tacoma native

enters one of mountaineering’s most elite clubs by summiting the highest peaks on all seven continents.
Tacoma native Craig Van Hoy has often climbed much higher than 7,310 feet above sea level, but that elevation must have felt like the top of the world Saturday afternoon.

Van Hoy, 46, reached the summit of Mount Kosciuszko in Australia’s Great Dividing Range at 2 p.m. PST Saturday, completing his quest to climb the highest peak on each of the seven continents. After returning from the climb, he e-mailed two pictures and a brief announcement of his accomplishment to The News Tribune at 4:27 a.m. Monday. Van Hoy could not be reached for comment.

Van Hoy is the 128th person to reach the Seven Summits. He is believed to be the eighth person from Washington to accomplish the feat. Tacoma residents David Van Hoy, Bert Brown and ken Peters were also members of Saturday’s climbing party. Craig Van Hoy, who operates his own climbing service in Clackamas, Ore., left for Australia Thursday afternoon. He climbed Saturday with guide Bart Eschler of Canberra, Australia.

Before his trip, Van hoy described Kosciuszko as a non-technical hike but said he was not underestimating the relatively easy climb because “bad weather is always a possibility”. The weather did not appear to be a problem. A picture sent by Van Hoy shows the men posing on Kosciuszko’s rocky summit with one of the men in shorts.

Van Hoy honed his climbing skills in the Cascade and Olympic ranges. He guided with Rainier Mountaineering Inc. beginning in 1977, then moved to Clackamas in 2000 to start Go Trek and Expeditions. He guides climbs and other adventure trips all over the world. His quest to reach the seven summits has taken him to Everest (29,029 feet) in Asia, Alaska’s Mount McKinley (20,320 feet), South America’s Aconcagua (22,840), Antarctica’s Mount Vinson (16,067), Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro (19,339) and Europe’s Mount Elbrus (18,481 feet). In comparison, Mount Rainier is 14,410 feet. Van Hoy has climbed Rainier more than 300 times via 19 different routes, some of which he established himself. The Seven Summits designation is not without debate. Some mountaineers don’t consider Kosciuszko among the seven summits because they don’t consider Australia a continent. Instead they consider Oceania – the islands of the southern, western and central Pacific Ocean including Australia – to be the seventh continent. This would make new Guinea’s Carstensz Pyramid (16,023 feet) the seventh summit. Currently, Carstensz Pyramid is virtually closed to climbers because of political unrest in the area.

According to statistics kept by Everestnews.com and7summits.com, Van Hoy is the 92nd person to complete the Australia list. Eighty-one people have climbed the Oceania version and 45 have bagged all eight peaks.

Tacoma’s Eric Simonson, Seattle’s Todd Burleson and Spokane’s Chris Kopczynski are the only Washingtonians to reach all eight summits. Jason Edwards of University Place completed the Australia list in 2002. Former RMI guide Greg Wilson finished the Oceania list in 2001. Phil Ershler of Seattle was the seventh man ever to complete the Australia version in 1989 and the first to do it twice in 2002 when he and his wife, Susan, also became the first married couple to climb the Seven Summits.

Article written by: CRAIG HILL