Reinhold Messner - All 14 Eight-Thousanders

Reinhold Messner was the first man to stand on all 14 eight-thousand metre summits, which was, and is, an unbelievable achievement in mountaineering. Before Messner's success, however, the eight-thousanders were regarded as mythical mountains that were both inaccessible and incomprehensible. For Anglo-Americans who measure in feet relative to metres, most of the eight-thousanders are more than 26, 000 feet high. Thus it is possible to talk of the 27, 000ers, which is perhaphs not so catchy. If Napolean had made the metre slightly longer, we would have less than fourteen eight-thousanders; conversely, a little shorter than the metre, we would have had one nine-thousander. Messner was aware of this arbitrary accident.

The Himalayan mountains are still rising and summit snow cover varies at different times of the year. Future measurements will therefore have to be corrected, perhaps so significant as to elevate one of the seven thousanders into the 8,000-metre category, or, equally possible, to demote one of the fourteen eight-thousanders. Most of the eight-thousanders were measured by the Survey of India in the mid-19th Century. India was still a British colony at that time and the highest peak in the world was named in honour of one of the surveyor-generals, Sir George Everest.

A list of the 14 summits are detailed below.

1)    Mount Everest, 8848m
2)    Kanchenjunga, 8586m
3)    Makalu, 8463m
4)    Lhotse, 8516m
5)    Nanga Parbat, 8125m
6)    Manaslu, 8163m
7)    Gasherbrum I, 8068m
8)    Gasherbrum II, 8035m
9)    K2, 8611m
10)  Shisha Pangma, 8046m
11)  Broad Peak, 8047m
12)  Cho Oyu, 8201m
13)  Annapurna, 8091m
14)  Dhaulagiri, 8167m

Reinhold Messner leading his brother on Nanga Parbat in 1970
Photo Credit: Piper Verlag/Crowood Press