The world’s 14 highest mountains are an exclusive club of peaks whose summits tower more than 8,000 meters (26,247 feet) above sea level. These mountains, besides their highest main summit, also have 22 subsidiary summits, many of which have not been climbed. The Eight Thousanders all lie in the lofty Himalayan and Karakoram ranges in central Asia.
Annapurna and Everest
The first 8,000-meter peak climbed was Annapurna, the tenth highest peak, by French mountaineers Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal, who reached the summit on June 3, 1950. Herzog went on to write Annapurna, a best-selling but controversial account of the ascent. Sir Edmund Hillary from New Zealand and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first to stand atop Mount Everest, the roof of the world, on May 29, 1953.
The Ultimate Climbing Challenge
Climbing all 14 of the 8,000-meter peaks is a formidable challenge, undoubtedly one of the most difficult human endeavors possible. It would be easier and, of course, much safer to win a Super Bowl or Stanley Cup or even a golf Grand Slam. As of 2007, only 15 climbers have successful climbed and descended all the 8,000-meter peaks. Reinhold Messner, the great Italian mountaineer and perhaps the greatest of all Himalayan climbers, was the first person to climb all 14 peaks. He completed the task in 1986 at age 42, taking 16 years. The next year Polish climber Jerzy Kukuczka was the second, taking only eight years. The first American to climb them all is Ed Viesturs, who completed his quest in 2005.
The 8,000-Meter Peaks
Elevation: 29,035 feet (8,850 meters)
Elevation: 28,253 feet (8,612 meters)
Elevation: 28,169 feet (8,586 meters)
Elevation: 27,890 feet 8,501 meters)
Elevation: 27,765 feet (8,462 meters)
Elevation: 26,906 feet (8,201 meters)
Elevation: 26,794 feet (8,167 meters)
Elevation: 26,758 feet (8,156 meters)
Elevation: 26,658 feet (8,125 meters)
Elevation: 26,545 feet (8,091 meters)
Elevation: 26,470 feet (8,068 meters)
Elevation: 26,400 feet (8,047 meters)
Elevation: 26,360 feet (8,035 meters)
Elevation: 26,289 feet (8,013 meters)