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Page last updated at 15:37 GMT, Wednesday, 12 January 2011
Surrey teenager George Atkinson aims to conquer Everest

George Atkinson
George Atkinson has recently returned from climbing Mount Vinson in Antarctica

Sixteen-year-old George Atkinson from Surbiton is aiming to become the youngest person to climb the Seven Summits - the highest mountain on every continent.

He has just returned home from Antarctica and scaling Mount Vinson, his sixth successful climb.

He got the mountaineering bug from his father Mark, and by the age of 7 he had climbed the three highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales: Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdonia.

George told BBC Surrey: "My father really got me into climbing. When I was six we climbed Slieve Donard, the highest mountain in Northern Ireland.

"We did that because we needed to find something we needed to do together. I really loved it."

Mount Everest
Mount Everest seen from the Kalapattar Plateau

He started off his challenge when he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya at the age of 11 in 2005, before scaling Europe's highest peak, Russia's Mount Elbrus, in 2007.

He then tackled Puncak Jaya, also known as Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia in 2008, followed by the South American peak Aconcagua later in the same year.

"There are a number of things that drive me. I do enjoy any mountain and I feel there is an amazing sense of freedom in any mountain range.

"I like a good challenge in life and the Seven Summits is something which gives me that.

"I find these mountains to be a good adventure by going off to exotic places and it's a good chance to travel the world."

George ticked off his fifth peak when he climbed Mount McKinley (known as Denali) in North America.

"Denali has been the toughest so far. It was full-on mountain climbing," he said.

"You land on a glacier and spend 18 days living in the snow pulling everything you need for the expedition with you, and you have to bring it back down with you.

George Atkinson on top of Denali
George on top of Denali last year

"It was harder physically and the weather was more extreme."

George is now preparing for his final climb. He will tackle Mount Everest in Nepal, which at 8,850 metres is the highest mountain in the world.

He aims to climb Everest in April or May this year, and if he is succeeds in his ascent before his 17th birthday on May 29, he will become the first person do climb every summit in the world before the age of 17.

"I have a training regime which I'm trying to keep up to. I go running twice a week to increase my lung capacity and go to the gym three times a week.

"It would mean an awful lot to get to the top of Everest. I'm not doing it just to get the record.

"I find it a good challenge. If I got the record it would be the cherry on top and finish it off well."

In Pictures: Teenage mountaineer
12 Jan 11 |  People & Places

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