Map of the Seven Summits (actually nine, depending on definition).
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1929, Bass moved with his family to Texas in 1932. After graduating from Highland Park High School, he enrolled at Yale University at 16 and graduated in 1950 with a degree in geology. After completing some graduate work at the University of Texas, Bass served two years with the U.S. Navy on board the aircraft carrier USS Essex during the Korean War. In 1953, he returned to Texas to join in the running of the family oil and gas business and ranching operations.
Bass became the first person to achieve the seven summits on April 30, 1985. On that date, he also held the record for being the oldest person to have climbed Mt. Everest. Details of his adventures were described in a book that he co-wrote, Seven Summits. His feat is not without controversy, as one of the seven summits was the tallest mountain in mainland Australia, and not the tallest in Oceania. In addition there is a lot of controversy how he got to the top of the Mount Everest with the help of many Sherpas and a lot of bottled oxygen.