Majestic tall mountains have always fascinated mankind. The high peaks touching the clouds look so fascinating and awe-inspiring. The desire to conquer mountain lies in the spirit of adventure. As the famous mountaineer and the one who conquered Mount Everest for the first time, once said.
Once someone asked Sir Edmund Hillary, what made him conquer the Mount Everest. He replied, “Because it is there!”. Such is the attraction and challenge posed by a mountain peak. It beckons people to climb atop it. There more than 110 mountains on Earth with a height greater than 7,000 meters above sea level. These mountains are located mostly in the Indian subcontinent and Tibet. However, if you consider mountains which are higher than 8000 meters, then there are only 14 such mountains.
Here is the list of 14 such mountain peaks which are more than 8,000 meters above sea-level. They are all located in Asia, on the great Himalayan range. In mountaineering jargon, peaks over 8,000 feet in height, are called “eight-thousanders”.
14. Shishapangma, 8027 m, Tibet
Shishapangma, also known as Gosainthān, is the 14th highest mountain in the world. It has a height of 8,027 metres or 26,335 ft above sea level. It was the last of the 8,000 meter peak to be climbed, as it is entirely within Tibet and China had imposed restrictions. Shishapangma, in Tibetan, means the crest above the grassy plains. The name Gosainthan in Sanskrit means “place of the saint” or “Abode of God”. Shishapangma is located in south-central Tibet, five kilometres from Nepal. It is the only eight-thousander peak that is entirely within China. It is the highest peak in the Jugal Himal range. Shishapangma has a subsidiary peak called Central Peak which is higher than 8000 meters.
Shishapangma was first climbed on 2 May 1964 by Xu Jing and others in the Chinese expedition team. The first winter ascent was made on 14 January, 2005, by Piotr Morawski from Poland and Simone Moro from Italy.
13. Gasherbrum II, 8035 m, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan-China
Gasherbrum II or K4, is the 13th highest peak in the world.located on the border of Gilgit–Baltistan, Pakistan, and Xinjiang, China. It is at an elevation of 8,035 metres or 26,362 ft above sea level. It is part of the Karakoram mountain range in the Himalayas, and located over the Baltoro Glacier. The name “Gasherbrum” in local Balti language means beautiful mountain. The first ascent to the summit was made on July 7, 1956, by Austrians Fritz Moravec, Josef Larch and Hans Willenpart. The first ascent in winter was made on February 2, 2011 by Cory Richards, Denis Urubko, and Simone Moro.
12. Broad Peak, 8051 m, Baltistan, Pakistan-China
Broad Peak is the 12th highest peak in the world. It is at an altutude of 8,051 m or 26,414 ft above sea level. It is is part of the Gasherbrum massif in Baltistan. It is located on the border of Pakistan and China. It is in the Karakoram mountain range about 8 kilometres from K2. It is called Broad Peak because it has a summit which is over 1.5 kilometres long. It is also called Falchan Kangri. The mountain has several subsidiary summits, named Rocky Summit, Broad Peak Central, Broad Peak North and Kharut Kangri.
The first ascent of Broad Peak was made on June 9, 1957 by Fritz Wintersteller, Marcus Schmuck, Kurt Diemberger, and Hermann Buhl of an Austrian expedition. On March 5, 2013 Maciej Berbeka, Adam Bielecki, Tomasz Kowalski and Artur Małek of a Polish expedition made the first winter ascent.
11. Gasherbrum I, 8080 m, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan-China
Gasherbrum I, also known as Hidden Peak or K5, is the 11th highest mountain in the world. It is at a height of 8,080 metres or 26,510 ft above sea level. It is located on the Pakistani–Chinese border in Gilgit–Baltistan region of Pakistan and Xinjiang region of China. Gasherbrum I is, located in the Karakoram region of the Himalaya. Gasherbrum in local Balti language means “beautiful mountain.” initially Gasherbrum I was designated K5, meaning the 5th peak of the Karakoram, by T.G. Montgomerie, the British Royal Engineer.
Gasherbrum I was first ascended on July 5, 1958 by Pete Schoening and Andy Kauffman of an American expedition. On March 9, 2012, Adam Bielecki and Janusz Gołąb made the first winter ascent. The ascent was made without the aid of supplementary oxygen.
10. Annapurna I, 8091 m, Nepal
Annapurna I Main is the tenth highest mountain in the world at 8,091 metres or 26,545 ft above sea level. Annapurna is a mountain range in the Himalayas in north-central Nepal that includes one peak over 8,000 metres, thirteen peaks over 7,000 metres, and sixteen more over 6,000 metres. The range is 55 kilometres long, and is bounded by the Kali Gandaki Gorge on the west, the Marshyangdi River on the north and east, and by Pokhara Valley on the south. Annapurna Sanctuary is at the western end. Annapurna Conservation Area is the first and largest conservation area in Nepal. It has several world-class treks, including the Annapurna Circuit. Annapurna in Sanskrit means “full of food”. It is reference to the Goddess of the Harvests or Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth.
The Annapurna peaks are among the world’s most dangerous mountains to climb. It has a fatality-to-summit ratio of 32%, which is the highest of any of the eight-thousanders. This means 1 in every 3 mountaineers meets with death. On 3 June 1950, first ascent was made by Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal belonging to a French expedition.
The first winter ascent was made on 3 February 1987 by Polish climbers Jerzy Kukuczka and Artur Hajzer. About two-thirds of all trekkers to Nepal visit the Annapurna region as the area is easily accessible, there are guest houses in the hills and treks offer amazingly diverse sceneries. The entire area is inhabited and offers unique cultural experience.
9. Nanga Parbat, 8126 m, Pakistan
Nanga Parbat is the ninth highest mountain in the world at a height of 8,126 metres or 26,660 ft above sea level. It is located in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. Nanga Parbat means the Naked Mountain. It is also known locally as ‘Deo Mir’ meaning the ‘huge mountain’. Nanga Parbat is an immense peak rising dramatically above its surrounding terrain. Nanga Parbat poses the most difficult and treacherous climb. It has tremendous vertical slope in all directions. It causes very high mountaineering deaths resulting in a nickname, the “killer mountain”.
Nanga Parbat is situated just south of the Indus River. It is in the Diamer District of Gilgit–Baltistan in Pakistan. On the north is the western end of the Karakoram Range. Nanga Parbat was first ascended 3 July 1953 by Austrian climber Hermann Buhl, a member of a German-Austrian team. On 26 February 2016, the first winter ascent was made by Italian Simone Moro, Alex Txicon and Ali Sadpara.
8. Manaslu, 8163 m, Nepal
Manaslu is the eighth highest mountain in the world with an altitude of 8,163 metres or 26,781 ft above sea level. It is located in the Mansiri Himal range of the Nepalese Himalayas, in Nepal. Manaslu is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘manas’ which means intellect or soul. Manaslu means “mountain of the spirit”. Manaslu is also called Kotang in Nepali, which means a flat place. Manaslu is the highest peak in the Gorkha District of Nepal. It is about 64 km east of Annapurna.
On 9 May 1956, the first ascent of Manaslu was made by Toshio Imanishi and Gyaltsen Norbu Sherpa, members of a Japanese expedition. There have been several ascents to the summit after that with regular frequency. Every year a large number of climbers reach the summit, despite the risks and fatalities. In 2011 Arjun Vajpai an Indian mountaineer became the youngest climber in the world to have climbed Manaslu at the age of 18. First winter ascent was made on 12 January 1984 by two Polish mountaineers, Maciej Berbeka and Ryszard Gajewski.
The Manaslu Conservation Area has been established with the objective of achieving conservation and sustainable management of the region. The Manaslu Circuit is a popular trekking trail. Manaslu Himal provides the trekkers breath-taking views of the snow-covered mountains of the Himalayas and allows interaction with the different ethnic groups who live in hills. This valley is a sanctuary to many endangered animals, including snow leopards, pandas, lynx, Asian black bear, grey wolf, dhole, Assam macaque, Himalayan musk deer, blue sheep, Himalayan tahr, mainland serow, Himalayan goral, woolly hare, horseshoe bat, Himalayan mouse-hare and black-lipped pika. Over 110 species of birds, 33 mammals, 11 butterflies have been found here. It is home to many medicinal herbs and aromatic plants and has about 2000 plant species.
7. Dhaulagiri I, 8167 m, Nepal
Dhaulagiri I is the seventh highest mountain in the world. It is at a height of 8,167 metres or 26,795 ft above sea level. The name Dhaulagiri comes from the Sanskrit, which means a white or dazzling mountain. It is on the Dhaulagiri Himal range in Nepal. Dhaulagiri I is also the highest point of the Gandaki river basin. The Dhaulagiri range extends 120 km from the Kaligandaki River to the Bheri. Annapurna I is 34 km. east of Dhaulagiri I. The Kali Gandaki River flows between the two peaks in the Kaligandaki Gorge, which is the world’s deepest gorge. The town of Pokhara is in the south which is considered the gateway for climbers and trekkers, and also a tourist destination. Dhaulagiri I is visible from northern Bihar and Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. Dhaulagiri I rises spectacularly from lower terrain. It rises 7,000 m from the Kali Gandaki River.
On 13 May 1960, first ascent was made by Kurt Diemberger, P. Diener, E. Forrer, A. Schelbert, Nyima Dorje Sherpa, Nawang Dorje Sherpa belonging to Swiss-Austrian expedition team. The first winter ascent was made on 21 January 1985 Jerzy Kukuczka and Andrzej Czok from Poland.
6. Cho Oyu, 8188 m, Nepal-Tibet, China
Cho Oyu is the sixth highest mountain in the world at 8,188 metres or 26,864 ft above sea level. It is on the Nepal-China border. Cho-Oyu is the westernmost major peak of the Khumbu part of the Mahalangur Himalaya range. It is 20 km west of Mount Everest. The mountain stands on the China-Nepal border. Cho Oyu means “Turquoise Goddess” in Tibetan.
Just a few kilometres west is a glaciated pass that was the main trading route between the Tibetans and the Khumbu’s Sherpas. Due to the proximity of the pass and the moderate slopes of the northwest ridge route, Cho Oyu is easier to climb than other 8,000 metre peaks. On October 19,1954, Cho Oyu was first ascended through the north-west ridge by an Austrian expedition team of Herbert Tichy, Joseph Jochler and Sherpa Pasang Dawa Lama. On February 12, 1985, the first winter ascent was made by Poles Maciej Berbeka and Maciej Pawlikowski. In 1994, first solo ascent via the South West face was made by Japanese Yasushi Yamanoi.
5. Makalu, 8485 m, Nepal-China
Makalu is the fifth highest mountain in the world at a height of 8,485 metres or 27,838 ft above sea level. It is located on the border between Nepal and China. It lies in the Mahalangur Himalayas. It is 19 km southeast of Mount Everest. Makalu is an isolated peak and has a four-sided pyramid shape. Makalu has two subsidiary peaks, Kangchungtse, or Makalu II and Chomo Lonzo.
On May 15, 1955, Makalu was first climbed by Lionel Terray and Jean Couzy of a French expedition team. On February 9, 2009 Makalu was first climbed in winter by Italian Simone Moro and Kazakh Denis Urubko. Makalu is considered one of the most difficult mountains in the world to climb. The mountain has steep pitches and knife-edged ridges that are absolutely dangerous to climb. The final ascent on the pyramidal surface requires extreme expertise on ice-climbing.
4. Lhotse, 8516 m, Nepal-China
Lhotse is the fourth highest mountain in the world at an altitude of 8,516 metres or 27,940 ft. It is on the border between the Tibet region of China and the Khumbu region of Nepal. Lhotse means “South Peak” in Tibetan. Lhotse is a part of the Everest range and is connected by the South Col. Lhotse has smaller subsidiary peaks, Lhotse Middle and Shar.
On May 18, 1956, the main summit of Lhotse was first climbed by the Swiss team of Ernst Reiss and Fritz Luchsinger. More than 400 climbers have climbed Lhotse since then. On October 16, 1986, Lhotse was ascended by Reinhold Messner, who became the first person to climb all of the fourteen eight-thousanders peaks. On December 31, 1988, Krzysztof Wielicki, a Polish climber, made the first winter ascent of Lhotse.
3. Kangchenjunga, 8586 m, Sikkim, India
Kangchenjunga is the third highest mountain in the world, and lies partly in Nepal, Taplejung District and partly in Sikkim, India. It has an elevation of 8,586 m or 28,169 ft. It lies in the Kangchenjunga Himal, and is bordered by Tamur River in the west, by the Lhonak Chu and Jongsang La in the north, and in the east by the Teesta River. Mount Kangchenjunga is about 125 km south-east of Mount Everest. It is also spelled Kanchenjunga, and there are other alternative spellings too. Kangchenjunga in Tibetan means the five treasures of the high snow. Kangchenjunga in the Limbu language is called Senjelungma or Seseylungma. It is believed to be an abode of the omnipotent goddess Yuma Sammang. Kangchenjunga Main is the highest elevation of the Brahmaputra River basin.
Kangchenjunga is the highest mountain in India. It is called Five Treasures of Snow after its five high peaks, and has always been worshipped by the people of Darjeeling and Sikkim. Three of its five peaks – Main, Central and South – are on the border between North Sikkim and Nepal. Two peaks are in Nepal’s Taplejung District.
Kangchenjunga was first climbed on 25 May 1955 by Joe Brown and George Band, who were part of a British expedition. They did not step over the summit as they had given a promise to the Chogyal that the top of the mountain would not be violated. Thereafter, every climber follows this tradition. This was followed by Norman Hardie and Tony Streather on 26 May. 1986 On 11 January, 1986, Krzysztof Wielicki and Jerzy Kukuczka, Polish climbers, made the first winter ascent. Kangchenjunga has a high fatality rate of 20%, which mean that every fifth mountaineer does not survive.
The Kangchenjunga landscape is a complex of three distinct ecoregions; the Rastern Himalayan broad-leaved and coniferous forests, the Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadowsl and the Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands. The Kangchenjunga transboundary landscape is shared by Bhutan, China, India and Nepal, and comprises 14 protected areas. These protected areas are habitats for many globally significant flora such as rhododendrons and orchids and many endangered fauna such as snow leopard, Asian black bear, red panda, white-bellied musk deer, blood pheasant and chestnut-breasted partridge.
2. Mount K2, 8611 m, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan-China
K2 is the second highest mountain peak in the world, after Mount Everest. It is at a height of 8,611 metres or 28,251 ft above sea level. K2 is also known as Mount Godwin-Austen. The name Mount Godwin-Austen was in honor of Henry Godwin-Austen, an early explorer of the area. In local language, K2 is also called Chhogori. It is located on the China-Pakistan border between the Gilgit-Baltistan and Xinjiang, China. K2 is in the north-western Karakoram Range and is its highest point. K2 is also called the Savage Mountain due to the extremely treacherous ascent. It has the fatality rate of about 25%, which is the second-highest among the eight thousanders peak, after Annapurna with 32%.
First ascent on K2 was made on 31 July 1954 by an Italian team of Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli. Since then there have been around 350 successful ascents. The mountain is believed by many to be the world’s most difficult and dangerous climb, even tougher than climbing the Mount Everest. One important point to note is, K2 has never been climbed during winter. The Hollywood blockbuster Vertical Limit was shot here.
1. Mount Everest, 8848 m, Nepal
Mount Everest is the world’s highest mountain. Its peak is at 8,848 metres or 29,029 ft above sea level. It is also known as Sagarmāthā and in China as Chomolungma. Mount Everest is located in Nepal. Mount Everest is in the Mahalangur Range. The international border between Chinese occupied Tibet and Nepal runs across Everest’s summit point. Everest was given its official English name in 1865 by the Royal Geographical Society. It was name after the British Surveyor General of India, Sir George Everest. The Tibetan name for Mount Everest is Chomolungma meaning the Holy Mother Goddess. In Nepali, it is called Sagar-Matha.
On 29 May 1953, the first official ascent was made by a New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, a Nepali sherpa climber, reached the summit, through the South Col route, aso known as the southeast ridge route. News of the expedition’s success reached London on the morning of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation on 2nd June 1953. Hillary was knighted with the Order of the British Empire and Sherpa Tenzing was granted the George Medal by the UK government. Since then there have been more than 5,000 ascents to the Mount Everest. Some notable ascents are:
1975 – First female ascent, by Junko Tabei of Japan.
1978 – First ascent without supplemental oxygen, by Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler of Austria
1980 – First winter ascent, by Leszek Cichy and Krzysztof Wielicki of Poland
1980 – First solo ascent, by Reinhold Messner
1988 – First descent from the peak by paragliding, by Jean-Marc Boivin
1988 – First female ascent without supplemental oxygen by Lydia Bradey
2000 – First descent by ski by Davo Karničar
2001 – First ascent by a blind climber, Erik Weihenmayer
2001 – First ascent by a Nepali woman, Lhakpa Sherpa.
2006 – Lhakpa Sherpa summits for the 6th time setting a new record by a female climber.
2010 – Youngest to reach the summit, by Jordan Romero (13-year-old)
2011 – Most times to reach the summit, Apa Sherpa, 21 times.
Summiting Everest with disabilities has also become popular. Sudarshan Gautam, an Indian with no arms made it to the top in 2013. Amputees who have made the ascent include Mark Inglis (no legs), Paul Hockey (amputee with 1 arm only), and Arunima Sinha (amputee with 1 leg only).
The ascent to Everest gets complicated by the fact that besides avalanche and snow storms, there are frequent jet streams which are winds beyond 320 km/hour and can blow people away. The valley region has most spectacular and breathtaking views. This region is a sanctuary to several endangered species like the Himalayan tahr, snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, red panda etc.
These 14 eigth-thousander peaks are the only ones above 8, 000 meters of altitude. You should also remember that these peaks are considerably higher than the snow line. The snow line is the point above which snow and ice cover the ground throughout the year. The typical snow line is 4500 to 5000 meters above sea level. One can imagine the difficulty to climb a peak which is almost double the height over snow line. Rarefied atmosphere and lack of oxygen also poses another life-threatening hazard. Another important point to note is that many of these peaks are in disputed territories. They are contiguous to the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Chinese Occupied Tibet. Hope you have enjoyed reading about the top 14 peaks in the world which are above 8,000 meters. These great mountains will keep challenging the generations of humanity in centuries to come.