There is an excellent story up today over at Explorers Web that explorers the dangers of attempting to summit the 8000 meter peaks. It’s an interesting look at the sacrifices high level mountaineers make to achieve their goal, with some of them making the ultimate sacrifice of all.
The article gives a brief summary of what spurred this quest to claim all 14 of the 8000m peaks, the first of which was summitted back in 1950. That was Annapurna, and three years later Hillary and Norgay would take out Everest, claiming the second of the big mountains. Slowly, but surely they were all conquered, but it wasn’t until the 1970’s, when Reinhold Messner, amongst others, began making multiple summits on these peaks that the dream of nabbing them all became a reality. It became a race between Messner and his contemporaries, to see who could get them all first, and in the end Messner won out, completing a 16 year odyssey in 1986.
As of now, there are currently 14 men who have accomplished the task, with another 13 with one peak remaining on their list. The article has a run down of all the climbers who are finished, as well as everyone who has gotten at least 7 as of the ending of the Karakorum season a few weeks back. The list will be updated again soon to cover those that have claimed summits in the Himalaya this fall as well.
The story does a good job of explaining not only the dangers, but the appeal of such a quest to the top mountaineers in the world. To a certain extent, I think it’s one of those things you either get or you just don’t understand it at all, and even thought it’s doubtful that I’ll ever top out on a single one of these mountains, I certainly can understand their appeal to those that can.
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