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The Eight-Thousanders

An Introduction to the Tallest 14 Mountains in the World

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Everest Base Camp Trekking

The Trek to Everest Base Camp in Nepal.

Photo by Julia Mayer

The tallest 14 mountains on earth are collectively referred to as the eight-thousanders because each stands at over 8,000 meters (26,247 feet) tall.

All of the eight-thousanders are found in Asia -- in the Himalayas and the Karakoram mountain ranges. The Karakoram range separates India, China, and Pakistan.

  • Read about Nepal travel to see many of the eight-thousanders in one place!

The Official List of Eight-Thousanders

While in 2012 China suggested additions to the list of eight-thousanders, these peaks over 26,247 feet are officially recognized by the world community.

In order by height:

  • Mount Everest: 8,848 meters (29,029 feet). Located between China and Nepal.
  • K2: 8,611 meters (28,251 feet). Located between Pakistan and China.
  • Kangchenjunga: 8,586 meters (28,169 feet). Located between Nepal and India.
  • Lhotse: 8,516 meters (27,940 feet). Located between China and Nepal.
  • Makalu: 8,485 meters (27,838 feet). Located between China and Nepal.
  • Cho Oyu: 8,201 meters (26,906 feet). Located between China and Nepal.
  • Dhaulagiri I: 8,167 meters (26,795 feet). Located in Nepal.
  • Manaslu: 8,163 meters (26,781 feet). Located in Nepal.
  • Nanga Parbat: 8,126 meters (26,660 feet). Located in Pakistan.
  • Annapurna I: 8,091 meters (26,545 feet). Located in Nepal.
  • Gasherbrum I: 8,080 meters (26,444 feet). Located between China and Pakistan.
  • Broad Peak: 8,051 meters (26,414 feet). Located between China and Pakistan.
  • Gasherbrum II: 8,034 meters (26,358 feet). Located between China and Pakistan.
  • Shishapangma: 8,027 meters (26,335 feet). Located in China.

The Himalayas

Asia's monster mountain range is the highest on earth by a long shot. The Himalayas span or border six countries: China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan, and Afghanistan. With Mount Everest, the eight-thousanders, and over 100 mountains above 7,200 meters (23,600 feet), the Himalayas are a wonderland for mountaineers.

The highest peak outside of Asia is Aconcagua in Argentina with a peak of 6,960 meters (22,837 feet).

  • See more about the seven summits -- the tallest mountains on each continent.

Mount Everest

King of the eight-thousanders, perhaps no other mountain on earth receives as much press as the notorious Mount Everest. Oddly enough, Mount Everest may be the tallest mountain in the world based on measurement to sea level, however, it is not the most difficult to climb.

To date, more than 200 people have died trying to summit Mount Everest. While the fatality rate is only around 4.3 deaths per 100 climbers -- relatively low when compared to the 38% fatality rate on Annapurna I -- the popularity of the mountain and volume of summit attempts have given it the reputation as being the deadliest.

Mount Everest stands in the Himalayas between Tibet (China) and Nepal.

Climbing the Eight-Thousanders

An amazingly dangerous feat, credit is given to Italian Reinhold Messner for being the first person to successfully summit all 14 of the eight-thousanders; he did so without the aid of oxygen bottles. He was also the first climber to ascend Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen. Messner published, among many other books, his memoirs in All 14 Eight-Thousanders.

As of 2011, only 26 people have successfully climbed all 14 eight-thousanders, although a few other climbers have made disputed claims.

If climbing the earth's tallest 14 mountains wasn't enough of a feat, mountaineers are raising the bar by attempting the summits without oxygen or joining the elite who climb in winter. So far, only K2 and Broad Peak have not been summited in the winter months.

With a fatality rate of around 38% (more than one in three climbers perish), Annapurna I holds the ominous title as being the most dangerous of the eight-thousanders. K2 is second-most dangerous with a fatality rate of around 23% (more than one in five climbers perish).

Trekking Around the Eight-Thousanders

While actually climbing the world's tallest peaks may be out of reach for many of us, the trekking near the mountains offers incredible views without the danger of a summit attempt. Treks can be organized either before you leave home or once on the ground at various agencies in the country.

The stunning Annapurna circuit in Nepal can be broken into segments or completed in two to three weeks. The famous trek to Everest Base Camp in Nepal can be completed by anyone reasonably fit without gear or technical training.

Read more about the trek to Everest Base Camp.

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