Mount Everest Aerial View, Himalayas

Travel Inspiration The 14 Highest Mountains in the World

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What are the 14 Highest Mountains in the World?

There are only 14 mountains in the world which are over 8,000m / 26,247ft above sea level, often referred to as the ‘14 peaks’ or the ‘eight-thousanders’. Of these 14 highest peaks, 10 are found in the Himalayan Mountain Range and 4 in the Karakoram Mountain Range across Nepal, China, Pakistan and India on the continent of Asia.

Climbing all 14 of the highest mountains in the world is regarded as one of the toughest mountaineering challenges there is and as of 2023 less than 50 mountaineers have achieved this. Kristin Harila, a Norwegian mountaineer, is the fastest person in the world to climb all 14 peaks in just three months and one day in her “She Moves Mountains” project in 2023, beating Nirmal Purja’s 14 peaks record.

In this blog we’ll answer some of the most asked questions about the highest mountains in the world. So, read on for all you need to know about the 14 highest mountains in the world, who has climbed all 14 8,000m peaks and which is the easiest 8,000m peak to summit.

What is the highest mountain in the world?

Located in Nepal, Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world and one of the world’s 7 summits (the 7 highest mountains on each continent) reaching a whopping 8,849m at its highest point. First summited by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953, Mount Everest is still the ultimate mountaineering adventure due to its extreme altitude, unpredictable weather conditions and technical challenges, and as of January 2024 a total of 6,664 people have successfully reached its summit. Due to the mountain’s altitude, most climbers use supplemental oxygen to help them breathe more easily and increase their chance of reaching the summit safely.
Mount Everest, Nepal

What are the 14 peaks higher than 8,000m?

Listed below are the 14 highest mountains in the world and only peaks over 8,000m, belonging to the Himalayan Mountain Range and Karakoram Mountain Range:

  1. Everest 8848m / 29028ft (Himalayas)
  2. K2 8611m / 28250ft (Karakoram)
  3. Kanchenjunga 8586m / 28169ft (Himalayas)
  4. Lhotse 8516m / 27940ft (Himalayas)
  5. Makalu 8463m / 27766ft (Himalayas)
  6. Cho Oyu 8201m / 26906ft (Himalayas)
  7. Dhaulagiri 8167m / 26795ft (Himalayas)
  8. Manaslu 8163m / 26781ft (Himalayas)
  9. Nanga Parbat 8125m / 26660ft (Himalayas)
  10. Annapurna I 8091m / 26545ft (Himalayas)
  11. Gasherbrum I 8068m / 26469ft (Karakoram)
  12. Broad Peak 8047m / 26400ft (Karakoram)
  13. Gasherbrum II 8035m / 26362ft (Karakoram)
  14. Shishapangma 8012m / 26285ft (Himalayas)

Who climbed the 14 highest peaks in record time?

Climbing all 14 8,000m peaks is an incredibly challenging feat in the mountaineering world and each mountain has its own unique set of obstacles including extreme altitudes, harsh weather conditions, technical difficulties and demanding climbing routes. Because of this, climbing all 14 peaks requires exceptional physical fitness, technical climbing skills, mental resilience, experience at altitude and a knowledgeable support team.

As of 2023, less than 50 mountaineers have successfully climbed all the world’s 14 highest peaks over 8,000m. Below we’ve listed some of the people who have completed the challenge in record time.

In 1987, Polish climber Jerzy Kukuczka set the world record of the fastest ascent of all 14 8,000m peaks completing the challenge in 7 years 11 months and 14 days. He is best known for having become the second man in the world to climb all 14 ‘eight-thousanders’, just eleven months after Reinhold Messner.

In 2013, South Korean climber Kim Chang-ho beat Kukuczka’s record by just 1 month and 8 days.

Nirmal Purja set a new record in 2019 for the fastest ascent of all 14 peaks in 6 months and 6 days. The Nepali mountaineer’s quest to summit all 14 of the world’s 8,000m peaks was documented in the Netflix documentary 14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible (2021). Alongside the overall goal of climbing the world’s 14 tallest peaks, Nims achieved a further 6 world records in the process.

As of 27th July 2023, Kristin Harila holds the current record for the fastest ascent of all 14 peaks, completing the challenge in just 92 days. The world record came after her first attempt which began last year in 2022 when she was on track to beat Nirmal Purja’s record, but faced permit issues in China and was not allowed to finish her record attempt by climbing Cho Oyo and Shishapangma.

Kristin Harila on Shishapangma, Tibet

What is the “death zone”?

The summits of the world’s 14 highest mountains are all found in what is known as the “death zone” which is typically identified as 8,000m above sea level. At these altitudes, the oxygen levels are insufficient to sustain human life for an extended period hence the ominous nickname. Additionally, exposure to stronger UV radiation, freezing temperatures and extreme weather pose other dangers to climbers above this point.

Failure to acclimate properly may lead to a number of concerning illnesses including acute mountain sickness (AMS), high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) or high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE). When climbers are exposed to these altitudes, their rate of breathing increases to inhale the necessary oxygen and their heart rate soars, rising to 140 beats per minute which increases the risk of heart attack. Climbers frequently have more trouble sleeping at high altitudes, lose muscle mass more rapidly and experience a significant decline in appetite despite the need to consume additional calories.

What is the importance of acclimatisation?

One of the most common reasons why people fail to summit mountains over 8,000m is altitude sickness, or acute mountain sickness. Altitude sickness can occur after at least four hours spent at an altitude above 2,400m. Symptoms of altitude sickness occur when your body doesn’t have time to adjust to reduced oxygen availability when you’re at high altitude and it can affect anyone.

Minor symptoms of altitude sickness include headaches, but these can be treated with painkillers and by maintaining your water intake. Additionally, some trekkers use the drug Acetazolamide (Diamox) to help prevent altitude sickness. It’s when symptoms become more moderated to severe that your chances of reaching the summit are lessened.

While the human body will never fully acclimate to any elevation above 6,000m unless you’re Nepali or are born and live your life at altitude, the best way to acclimate is to gain elevation gradually and spend a few days at the elevation to begin the process. On any mountain we recommend climbing high but sleeping low to ensure the best possible chance of success.

For more information on symptoms for altitude sickness medications, check out our helpful blog on how to prevent altitude sickness in Nepal.

Which is the easiest 8,000m to climb?

When considering an 8,000m peak expedition, it’s important to have the right experience and preparation. On account of this, before attempting any 8,000m peak, it is recommended that climbers have completed at least two 6,000m peak expeditions as well as one expedition to a peak of 7,000m or higher. Nepal climbing permit rules state that if you want to attempt the hike to the summit of Mount Everest, you must be an experienced mountaineer, have a certificate of physical fitness and have already climbed a Nepali peak of at least 6,000m. This will provide valuable experience and understanding of what it takes to be successful at high altitudes, as well as the physical and mental demands of long and challenging days in the mountains.

It is important to note that there are no easy or comfortable climbs at 8,000m and that all mountains big or small are prone to danger. However, when comparing the 14 8,000m peaks, Manaslu (8,163m), Cho Oyu (8,201m) and Broad Peak (8,047m) are generally considered to be less technical and safer options at this altitude. Manaslu is the 8th highest mountain in the world and should be the choice for many climbers who want to make their first-ever expedition into 8,000m as there are fewer technical sections and hazards. Cho Oyo is the 6th highest peak in the world and another 8,000m mountain. Where the difficulty lies in climbing this peak is complicated rules with Chinese authorities. Broad Peak, the 12th highest mountain in the world is also considered another safer ‘eight-thousander’ as there are fewer technical dangers on the routes and is a straightforward climb.

Manalsu, Himalayas

Kandoo Adventures

You don’t need to summit the one of the 14 highest mountains in the world to experience the astounding beauty of the Himalayas. At Kandoo Adventures we run a number of fantastic trips to Everest Base Camp every year, offering treks up both Island Peak and Mera Peak (the highest trekking peak in Nepal). For those wanting to experience Nepal trekking but are shorter on time and experience, trekking up Poon Hill will reward you with one of the best viewpoints in Nepal. Climbing to Mount Everest Base Camp is a challenging but rewarding journey in the heart of the Himalaya and we are real believers that with the right training, mindset and gear anyone can tick off this incredible bucket list adventure. For experienced climbers, its also a great training peak followed by Aconcagua.