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Magnificent seven.

Summary: Dubai-based climber Atte Miettinen has joined an elite group of just 350 mountaineers by completing the Seven Summits challenge, conquering the highest peaks on each continent.

Dubai-based climber Atte Miettinen has joined an elite group of just 350 mountaineers by completing the Seven Summits challenge, conquering the highest peaks on each continent.

The Finnish national reached the top of Denali in Alaska at 6,196 metres on June 22. He has now descended the mountain and is on his way back to Dubai.

"Completing the Seven Summits, which has been a dream of mine for many years and felt so distant in the beginning, is an amazing feeling," said Miettinen. "Joining a group of just 350 people who have completed the Seven Summits as the first person from my native Finland gives me a small taste of what the true explorers in mountaineering felt like when they left the first footprints on mountains for others to follow."

Miettinen began his challenge back in 2007 when he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Since then, he has also reached the summits of Cerro Aconcagua (South America), Vinson Massif (Antarctica), Elbrus (Europe), Mount Everest (Asia), Carstensz Pyramid and Mount Kosciuszko (Australia).

Denali proved to be a worthy challenge for Miettinen as he looked to complete the Seven Summits. Adverse weather and glacial conditions make Denali, also known as Mount McKinley, a dangerous adversary. This so far, over 1,200 climbers have attempted to reach the peak with less than 290 making the summit.

Miettinen, who climbed as part of a six-member team from the Alaskan Mountaineering School, said: "Alaska is a beautiful place and Denali is without a doubt one of its highlights. However, despite its beauty, one can never forget that Denali is also a dangerous place with unpredictable weather, which often pushes mountaineers to their limits."

Miettinen's successful completion of the Seven Summits at Denali comes just over a month after he conquered Mount Everest, the world's highest mountain.

"Atte is thrilled and glad it's over," his wife Delanii told Khaleej Times on Friday. "And climbing Everest and Denali back-to-back actually helped because his fitness level was very high. So Denali was not as tough as it could have been. He'd already been over 8,000 metres at Everest, so it wasn't as difficult for him to adjust to the altitude."

Delanii said she was delighted and relieved to hear that her husband had safely completed the Seven Summits challenge. She is now eagerly awaiting his return to Dubai.

"I was bouncing around the walls when he told me he'd reached the summit, I was so happy. But Atte was as cool as a cucumber!

"I'm not sure if he has any other plans now, but Atte surprises me all the while."

Two summit lists

Richard Bass was the first climber to achieve the Seven Summits in 1985. Since then, only 350 mountaineers have joined the elite club.

There are two accepted lists for the challenge -- the Bass List and the Messner List, named after the climber Reinhold Messner. Messner replaced Mount Kosciuszko with Indonesia's Carstensz Pyramid, which is widely considered a more challenging climb.

Miettinen has climbed both Mount Kosciuszko and Carstensz Pyramid. Only 30 per cent of those to have completed the Seven Summits have conquered the peaks included on both lists, putting the Dubai-based climber in an even more exclusive club.

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Jun 30, 2012
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