8000 m ascents

Some statistics and concepts:

Why 8000m?

Because we use metrics. The Himalayan alpinism has a alpine ascendence, and climbers in the alps were using meters.

If they were American, where they count in feet, we might be talking about the 5 27.000ers (8229m) or 17 26.000ers (7924m). In US there’s not the 53 4000ers of Colorado but the 53 14ers of Colorado (14000ft-4267m) for example.

Physiologically, it isn’t a clear separation avobe and below 8000m. Climbing Gyachung Kang and Shisha Pangma are more similar physiologically than Shisha Pangma and Everest. Higher it is, the harder it is to move (with some exceptions on latitude, conditions, etc.) So, probably, as all the measurement lists, the 8000m separation is arbitrary.


How many 8000m summits are?

Traditionally it’s been counted 14 summits, those are the highest peaks of each range and 2 other peaks on those ranges with a high prominence. If we count the higest point of each range (separated by valleys or low passes) we can count 12. If we count the 30m prominence rule ( from he traditional 30m rope length) we can count 30. Taking into account the 30m prominence and alpinistic aspects (as in the Alps for example), we can count 22. If we count all the different peaks and gendarmes we can count 42.

In this article by Roberto Aruga, Roberto Mantovani and Luciano Ratto (PART 1PART 2) you can find a clear explanation of those differences.

From east to west ranges: ( principal summit in capital, secondary summits in lowercase, other peaks in cursive)

  • KANGCHENJUNGA 8586 (routes)
  • Yalung Kang (Kangchenjunga west) 8505 – 135m prominence
  • Kangchenjunga South 8476 – 116m prominence
  • Kangchenjunga Central 8473 – 63m prominence
    • Kangchenjunga West Pinnacle 8400
    • Yalung Kang Shoulder East 8250 – 30m prominence
    • Yalung Kang Shoulder  8077 – 40m prominence
    • Yalung Kang Shoulder West 8200
  • MAKALU 8463 (routes)
  • LHOTSE 8516 (routes)
  • Lhotse Central 8410 – 65m prominence
  • Lhotse Shar 8383 – 72m prominence
    • Lhotse SW summit 8499
    • Lhotse West Pinnacle 8426
    • Lhotse Middle West Tower 8418
    • Lhotse Central Peak II (Middle East Tower) 8372 37m prominence
    • Lhotse N-Pinnacle III 8327 10m prominence
    • Lhotse N-Pinnacle II 8307 12m prominence
    • Lhotse N-Pinnacle I 8290 10m prominence
  • EVEREST 8848 (routes)
    • Everest NE-Shoulder 8423- 19m prominence
    • Everest NE-Pinnacle III 8383 – 13m prominence
    • Everest West peak 8296 30m prominence
    • Everest NE-Pinnacle II 8282 25m prominence 
  • CHO OYU 8201 (routes)
    • Shisha Pangma Central Peak 8008 – 30m prominence
  • MANASLU 8163 (routes)
  • ANNAPURNA I 8091
    • Annapurna I Central 8051 – 50m prominence
    • Annapurna I East 8013 – 30m prominence
  • DHAULAGIRI I 8167 (routes)
  • BROAD PEAK 8047
  • Broad Peak Central (Middle) 8011- 181m prominence
  • K2 8611 (routes)
    • K2 South west 8580- 30m prominence
    • K2 p.8134 SW – 8134 – 35m prominence
    • Nanga Parbat South 8042 – 30m prominence

Does the how do we climb matter?

Alpinism has not a reglamentation to say what’s allowed or not. It’s enterely up to the climber to decide the “rules” on each climb. That’s called style. The discussions about the ethics and style to climb a mountain started in In 1880, when Mummery and Burgener were repelled while trying to make the first ascent of the Dent du Géant, being forced back by some difficult slabs. This provoked Mummery to exclaim: “Absolutely inaccessible by fair means!”, later in In 1895 Mummery attempted Nanga Parbat with a small team and without using supplementary oxygen. In 1911 Paul Preuß published the “Artificial Aids on Alpine Routes” essay and the following Mauerhakenstreit debate. In his text, Preuß advocated for a way of climbing where the alpinist elevate his capacities to the mountain difficulties and instead of using artificial means to overpass those dificulties. Following this ethics, climbers like Bonatti climbed in higher mountains in the Alps, therefore, when in the 70’s this ethics started to be used in Himalaya Karakorum’s high mountains it was called alpine style.

Expedition style:

The style of those expeditions what we call today “expedition or himalayan style” with large groups of people with different roles in the mountain. Porters and high altitude porters to carry the gear and food to the different camps, or fixing rope to secure the climb, cooks, doctors, a expedition leader taking the decisions and climbers making teams to progress in the mountain. With some changes this style has been followed until today.

The first expedition that used supplementary oxygen to attempt a climb was the 1922 British expedition in Everest. Where they reached 8225m, 2 years after in the 1924 British expedition, Norton reached 8570m with no oxygen and Mallory and Irvine, using oxygen dissapeared in their attempt in the north ridge above 8600m.

In 1953, a french expedition climbed Annapurna I, with a expedition style without using supplementary oxygen. In 1964 all main 8000m summits were climbed, all in expedition style except Broad Peak. In 1963, americans Tom Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld climbed Everest via its West ridge taking a deliberately difficult route to climb (expedition style-O2). This was the first traverse – use of a different way up and down) In 1970, Don Whillans and Dougal Haston reached the summit of Annapurna I via its south face, in a expedition style and with the use of oxygen. This marked the begining difficult climbing routes to 8000ers.

Expedition style can relay to different external aid, one of the most commons is supplementary oxygen, but not the only one. Fixed ropes, camps, high altitude porters, bolts and as much equipment using every resource possible to get to the top. Expedition style can be without supplementary oxygen (e.g. 1953 french Annapurna), A O2 expedition – with members with supplementary O2 and others without, where no s.O2 members profit from s.O2 members work and safety (e.g. Ang Rita Sherpa Everest winter 1987)-, or a full s.O2 members expedition.

How does it changes to Climb with supplemental oxygen

Alpine style:

In 1953, Hermann Buhl reached Nanga Parbat summit for the first time alone from the last camp and with no supplemental oxygen. 4 years after, with  Fritz Wintersteller, Marcus Schmuck, Kurt Diemberger, they reached Broad Peak summit for the first time without the aid of supplemental oxygen, high-altitude porters or base camp support. A few weeks after, Buhl and Diemberger made an attempt on nearby, unclimbed Chogolisa (7665 m) in alpine style.

In 1972, Wojciech Kurtyka and other polish climbers, reach the summits of Akher Tsagh (7017 m) and Kohe Tez (7015 m) in alpine style. 3 years later, in 1975, Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler climbed Gashebrum I, being the first ones to reach a 8000m summit purely in this style. In 1980 they reached the summit of Everest without supplementary oxygen and 2 years later Messner made the first solo ascent to Everest.

In the early 80’s climbers like Kurtyka, MacIntyre, Scott, Porter, Ghilini, etc make attempts to technical routes in alpine style. In 1984, Nil Bohigas and Enric Lucas climbed Annapurna’s south face, the first ascent of a technical route in alpine style at this altitude.

Winter ascents:

In January 1973, polish climbers Tadeusz Piotrowski and Andrzej Zawada reached Noshaq ( 7492m), the highest mountain in Afghanistan and the first 7000er climbed in winter.

In a expedition style leaded by Zawada, Wielicki and Cichy reached Everest summit in February 17th 1980. This was the first 8000er climbed in winter and the only one with the use of supplementary oxygen.

From there climbers had been making first ascents of 8000ers, all without supplementary oxygen. And some of those ascents carried in alpine style.

On February 6 1988 Fernando Garrido summited Cho Oyu alone (not other expedition in the mountain), in alpine style.

Which where the first ascents and first winter ascents?

Seven main summits were climbed with supplementary oxygen for the first time ( Everest, Lhotse, Gashebrum I, K2, Khangchenjunga, Makalu, Manaslu), also 8 secondary summits. The other main 8000ers were climbed for the first time without supplementary oxygen. In winter, only the first winter ascent of a eight-thousener (Everest in 1980) and the last one (K2 in 2021) was with supplementary oxygen, all others in between were carried without.

Chronology of first ascents and first winter ascents

1st ascent
1st no O2
1st W ascent
ANANNAPURNA I809103.06.1950 Maurice Herzog, Louis Lachenal3 February 1987, Jerzy Kukuczka, Artur Hajzer
ANAnnapurna I Central805129.07.1974 José Manuel Anglada, Emilion Civis, Jorge Pons50
ANAnnapurna I East801303.10.1980 Udo Bönning, Ludwig Greissl, Heinz Oberrauch30
BPBROAD PEAK804709.06.1957 Hermann Buhl, Kurt Diemberger, Marcus Schmuck, Fritz Wintersteller5 March 2013, Maciej Berbeka, Adam Bielecki, Tomasz Kowalski, Artur Małek
BPBroad Peak Central (Middle)801128.07.1975 Kazimierz Głazek, Marek Kęsicki (†), Janusz Kuliś, Bohdan Nowaczyk (†), Andrzej Sikorski (†)181
CHCHO OYU820119.10.1954 Josef Jöchler, Herbert Tichy, Pasang Dawa Lama (Nep/Sh)12 February 1985, Maciej Berbeka, Maciej Pawlikowski
DHDHAULAGIRI I816713.05.1960 Kurt Diemberger (A), Peter Diener (Ger), Ernst Forrer, Albin Schelbert, Nawang Dorje (Nep/Sh), Nima Dorje (Nep/Sh)13 December 1982 Koizumi, Wangchu Sherpa (O2!) 21 January 1985, Andrzej Czok, Jerzy Kukuczka
EVEVEREST884829.05.1953 Edmund Hillary (NZ), Tenzing Norgay (Ind)08.05.1978 Peter Habeler (A), Reinhold Messner (It)(O2) 17 February 1980, Krzysztof Wielicki, Leszek Cichy, 22 December 1987, Ang Rita Sherpa * (No O2 in a O2 expedition!)
EVLHOTSE851618.05.1956 Fritz Luchsinger, Ernst Reiss11.05.1977 Michel Dacher31 December 1988, Krzysztof Wielicki
EV* Lhotse SW summit8499
EV* Lhotse West Pinnacle8426
EV* Everest NE-Shoulder842319
EV* Lhotse Middle West Tower8418
EVLhotse Central841023.05.2001 Aleksei Bolotov, Piotr Kuznetsov, Sergei Timofeev, Yevgeni Vinogradski65
EV* Everest NE-Pinnacle III838306.08.1988 Russell Brice (NZ), Harry Taylor13
EVLhotse Shar838312.05.1970 Josef Mayerl, Rolf Walter20.05.1984 Zoltán Demján72
EV* Lhotse Central Peak II (Middle East Tower)837237
EV* Lhotse N-Pinnacle III832710
EV* Lhotse N-Pinnacle II830712
EV* Everest West peak829612.05.1979 Dušan Podbevšek and Roman Robas 30
EV* Lhotse N-Pinnacle I829010
EV* Everest NE-Pinnacle II828217.05.1982 Peter Boardman, Joe Tasker 25
GAGASHERBRUM I806805.07.1958 Andrew J. Kauffman, Peter K. Schoening10.08.1975 Peter Habeler, Reinhold Messner9 March 2012, Adam Bielecki, Janusz Gołąb
GAGASHERBRUM II803507.07.1956 Josef Larch, Fritz Moravec, Johann Willenpart2 February 2011, Simone Moro, Denis Urubko, Cory Richards
K2K2861131.07.1954 Achille Compagnoni, Lino Lacedelli06.09.1978 Louis F. Reichardt(O2) 16 January 2021, Nirmal Purja, Gelje Sherpa, Mingma David Sherpa, Mingma G, Sona Sherpa, Mingma Tenzing Sherpa, Pem Chhiri Sherpa, Dawa Temba Sherpa, Kili Pemba Sherpa, Dawa Tenjing Sherpa
K2K2 South west858007.08.1981 Eiho Ohtani, Nazir Sabir (Pak)02.09.1993 Jonathan Pratt (UK), Daniel Mazur (USA)30
K2* K2 p.8134 SW813435
KAKANGCHENJUNGA858625.05.1955 George Band, Joe Brown16.05.1979 Doug Scott, Peter Boardman, Joe Tasker11 January 1986, Krzysztof Wielicki, Jerzy Kukuczka
KAYalung Kang (Kangchenjunga west)850514.05.1973 Yutaka Ageta, Takao Matsuda (†)04.05.1980 Hugo Saldaña (†)135
KAKangchenjunga South847619.05.1978 Eugeniusz Chrobak, Wojciech Wróż17.04.1989 Vladimir Karatayev, Mikhail Mozhaev116
KAKangchenjunga Central847322.05.1978 Wojciech Brański, Andrzej Heinrich, Kazimierz Olech01.05.1991 Uroš Rupar63
KA* Kangchenjunga West Pinnacle8400
KA* Yalung Kang Shoulder East825030
KA* Yalung Kang Shoulder 807740
KA * Yalung Kang Shoulder West8200
MKMAKALU846315.05.1955 Jean Couzy, Lionel Terray06.10.1975 Marjan Manfreda9 February 2009, Simone Moro, Denis Urubko
MSMANASLU816309.05.1956 Toshio Imanishi, Gyalzen Norbu (Ind/Sh)25.04.1972 Reinhold Messner12 January 1984, Maciej Berbeka, Ryszard Gajewski
NPNANGA PARBAT812503.07.1953 Hermann Buhl (A)26 February 2016, Muhammad Ali Sadpara, Simone Moro, Alex Txikon
NPNanga Parbat South804217.08.1982 Ueli Bühler30
SPSHISHA PANGMA802702.05.1964 Hsu Ching, Chang Chun-yen, Wang Fu-zhou, Chen San, Cheng Tien-liang, Wu Tsung-yue, Sodnam Doji, Migmar Trashi, Doji, Yonten14 January 2005, Piotr Morawski, Simone Moro // 11 December 2005 Jean-Cristophe Lafaille
SP* Shisha Pangma Central Peak800810.10.1982 Makato Hara, Hiro Komamiya, Hirofumi Konishi30

Find different ascents at:

Seasons and weather

Himalayan mountains are located around the 25-27°, with a subtropical highland climate. This means a monsoon season from june to september with high temperatures and lots of precipitation. Autumn is often calm with a decrease of precipitation and string winds (jet stream) getting lower. Winter (meteorological) starts in December 1st til February 1st and astronomical from December 21st to March 20th. There the precipitation is very low but winds are very high with a jet stream at a low elevation and cold nights and days in the north faces. Spring is calm period where wind decreases and with warmer temperatures the precipitation starts.

The north side is much dryer, with a desert climate meaning less precipitation but colder in average compared to the south.

Karakorum mountains are a bit more north, and have a semiarid and strongly continental climate. Without monsoon, summer -June-September- is the most favorable season for climbing with warmer temperatures and less precipitation. Winters there have more snow precipitation.

Overview of weather data