Let’s review the basics … The peaks over 8,000 meters – there are 14 – are all located in what is called, sometimes improperly, the Himalayan range. Indeed, 4 of them are nestled in the Karakoram Mountains. These 14 peaks are found in four countries: China, Nepal, India and Pakistan. Some straddle the border between several countries, but not all. The map below allows you to better understand this geography. Two main areas stand out:
- The Indian-Chinese-Pakistani triangle of Karakoram (4 peaks: K2, Broadpeak,Gasherbrums).
- The Indian-Chinese-Nepalese area of the Himalayas (9 peaks: Everest, Annapurna, Lhotse, Manaslu, Makalu, Cho Oyu, Shishapangma, Kangchenjunga, Dhaulagiri).
Nanga Parbat, located in Pakistan, is not part of Karakoram. In fact, it is the very last high mountain of western Himalayas.
What are these 14 mountains?
In the table below, you will find the names of each peak, their altitude (in both meters and feet), their country, the year of first ascent (and the country the expedition came from). If you want to learn more about the first successfull expeditions, click on the last column, you will access detailed articles.
|1||Mount Everest (Sagarmatha, Chomolungma)||8.848 m / 29.029 ft||Nepal/China||1953 (British)|
|2||K2 (Chogori, Mt Godwin-Austen)||8.611 m / 28.261 ft||Pakistan/China||1954 (Italian)|
|3||Kangchenjunga (or Kanchenjunga)||8.586 m / 28.169 ft||India/Nepal||1955 (British)|
|4||Lhotse||8.516 m / 27.940 ft||Nepal/China||1956 (Swiss)|
|5||Makalu||8.485 m / 27.838 ft||Nepal/China||1955 (French)|
|6||Cho Oyu||8.188 m / 26.864 ft||Nepal/China||1954 (Austrian)|
|7||Dhaulagiri||8.167 m / 26.795 ft||Nepal||1960 (International)|
|8||Manaslu (Kutang)||8.163 m / 26.781 ft||Nepal||1956 (Japanese)|
|9||Nanga Parbat (Diamir)||8.125 m / 26.657 ft||Pakistan||1953 (German)|
|10||Annapurna||8.091 m / 26.545 ft||Nepal||1950 (French)|
|11||Gasherbrum I (Hidden Peak, K5)||8.080 m / 26.510 ft||Pakistan/China||1958 (American)|
|12||Broadpeak (Falchen Kangri)||8.051 m / 26.414 ft||Pakistan/China||1957 (Austrian)|
|13||Gasherbrum II (K4)||8.035 m / 26.362 ft||Pakistan/China||1956 (Austrian)|
|14||Shishapangma (Gosainthan)||8.027 m / 26.335 ft||China||1964 (Chinese)|
Who has already climbed these 14 summits?
While some mountains over 8,000 meters attract commercial expeditions and make headlines for traffic jams, few mountaineers have ever visited all of them. Only about forty mountaineers have already achieved the feat of climbing the 14 8.000ers. The first of them is the Italian Reinhold Messner. It took 16 years to get there, ending his quest in 1986. He climbed without using bottled oxygen, opening new routes 8 times. A year later, the Polish Jerzy Kukuczka won the title so coveted by the mountaineers in the Himalayas. Eight years passed before the third step of the podium was occupied by the Swiss Erhard Loretan. We find other big names in the list like Krzystof Wielicki, Ed Viesturs, Denis Urubko or Ralf Dujmovits.
Women are not to be outdone. In 2010, the Spanish Edurne Pasaban ended 9 years of successive climbs and became the first woman to succeed in these 14 summits. The following year, the Austrian Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner joined her. Unlike Pasaban, she did not use oxygen during her expeditions.
In 2019, the Nepalese Nirmal Purja a.k.a. “Nims” climbed the 14 highest mountains in the world in just 6 months and a few days. He used supplementary oxygen, but it’s quite a feat.
Which 8,000 is the easiest to climb?
By definition, no summit at such high altitude is easy to reach. However, they do not all have the same technicality. And the dangers are different in nature on each mountain. The altitude difference is a first answer. There is almost 900 meters between the highest and the lowest of these 14 peaks. This is a big difference when it comes to climbing. Another point, the technical and very committed paths. They are numerous on K2 or Annapurna. They are less numerous on Cho Oyu, Shishapangma or even Manaslu. Mountain guides advise mountaineers wishing to climb Everest to gain experience on one of these three more accessible peaks. To give you an idea of the difficulty and danger of each mountain, hereafter are the approximate death rates on each peak.
|< 5%||Mount Everest, Lhotse, Gasherbrum II, Cho Oyu|
|5-10%||Manaslu, Makalu, Gasherbrum I, Broadpeak, Shishapangma|
|> 20%||Annapurna, Nanga Parbat, K2|