The Dangers of 8000 meter Peaks

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.

Kraig Becker

6 thoughts on “The Dangers of 8000 meter Peaks”

  1. An always interesting topic to explore. I found it was missing a few minor details like how Kukuczka was only climbing Lohtse again because he felt it was the only one of his 8000ers he climbed in poor style (not a new route, not a first winter ascent, etc.)

  2. Yeah, it glosses over some of the finer details, and you know someone could write a very detailed book about each mountain and the “quest” to climb them all.

    I appreciated the updated list as well, although the three ladies are who I’m most interested in at this point, as they all three strive to be the first to claim them all.

  3. That’s a good way of putting it, “finer details”. I guess I need to stop being such a 8000er dork and go back to being just a rock climbing dork.

    It should be interesting to see if any of the females can break the “curse”.

  4. But being an 8000m dork is so much fun! These mountains are just way too fascinating.

    And as I mentioned earlier in the week, it would be fun to have all three ladies finish together, but unfortunately there are no shared peaks still on their lists.

  5. So true. The article also doesn’t really mention the controversy over ascents of Shishapangma. You could probably write an entire book on that alone.

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