Whether you’re a mountain climber or not, you’re sure to have been fascinated by the tallest mountains in the world. And this human fascination has led to climber scaling all the highest peaks in the world. Though the effort to summit the various eight-thousanders, i.e. peaks that have an elevation of more than eight thousand meters above the sea level, began at the beginning of the twentieth century, many summits could be climbed only in the 1950s.
After the peaks were climbed various times, mountaineers faced the challenge to climb these peaks in the winters. Even though reaching the highest points in the world is an accomplishment, the unpredictable storms, avalanches and the biting cold at these places make the feat even more difficult. The twelve tallest mountains in the world are among the fourteen eight-thousanders and this article lists them all.
1. Mount Everest
Located in the Mahalangur Himalaya on the Nepal-China border, this 8,848m peak is the highest in the world. It is the most popular for climbing among all the eight-thousanders for its elevation from the sea level is the most. First summited by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on 29 May 1953, this peak is not an easy climb as more than 300 climbing deaths have been recorded till 2017. The mountain has its summit exactly on the Nepal and China border and so it can be climbed from both the sides. The tallest mountain got its name ‘Everest’ on the name of the British Surveyor General of India, Sir George Everest, and this name was then adopted by the Royal Geographical Society.
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2. K2/ Mount Godwin-Austen
Having an elevation of 8,611 metres, this mountain is second on the list of the world’s tallest. It is the highest point in the Karakoram range of the Himalayas. It lies on the Pakistan-China border, with the Pakistani side being in Gilgit-Baltistan and the Chinese side being in Xinjiang. Up to date, some 300 people have summited and there have been around 77 climbing deaths. Due to the extreme difficulties climbers encounter while summiting K2, it is a very dangerous climb, and nicknamed the ‘Savage Mountain’. This is also why a winter climb has never been successful in the peak. The K2 is also known as Mount Godwin-Austen, after Henry Godwin-Austen, an explorer of the area.
Lying on the Nepal-India border is the 8,586 m peak, which is the third highest in the world. Even though it lies in India, it can be scaled only from China as the India government banned any expeditions to the peak. It is located in the Kangchenjunga Himal Section of the Himalayas, a section which has over fourteen 7,000 m peaks. Although it is also called ‘Kanchenjunga’, the other spelling with a ‘g’ has been adopted officially by Royal Geographical Society. The Zemu and Talung glaciers from the mount end in the Tests River, the Yalung glacier ends in the Arun river, and the Kangchen glacier ends in Kosi river.
The name of the peak ‘Lhotse’ means ‘South Peak’ in Tibetan and this peak is the fourth highest peak in the world with an elevation of 8,516 metres. It stands on the Everest Massif in Mahalangur Himalaya, across the Nepal-China border. The Swiss team of Ernst Reiss and Fritz Luchsinger was the first two to summit the peak, and they achieved this feat on May 18th in 1956. The first winter ascent was done by the Polish climber Krzysztof Wielicki.
Another peak of the Mahalangur Himalaya, the 8,485 m tall Mount Makalu stands fifth on the list of the world’s tallest mountains. It is an isolated peak and is situated 19 kilometers southeast of Mt. Everest. The first people to reach the summit were Lionel Terray and Jeans Couzy, members of a French Expedition and they achieved this feat on the 15th of May in 1955. It also lies on the Nepal-China border.
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6. Cho Oyu
The westernmost majored peak of the Khumbu sub-section of the Mahalangur Himalaya, Cho Oyu is the sixth tallest peak in the world. It is elevated an astounding 8,188 metres from the sea level and lies in proximity to a glaciated path called the Nangpa La, which has a site for trade. This makes it the easiest and the second most popular peak among the eight-thousanders. It was first summited on October 19, 1954. The name ‘Cho Oyu’ means ‘Turquoise Goddess’ in Tibetan.
7. Dhaulagiri I
It has a height of 8,167 metres and is located in Nepal in the Dhaulagiri Massif, which extends from Kaligandaki river to the Bheri. It derives its name from Sanskrit words- ‘Dhaul’ meaning a ‘dazzling/white’ and ‘giri’ meaning ‘mountain’. It was first summited on the 13th of May in 1960. The Dhaulagiri I is the highest point of the Gandaki river basin.
With a height of 8,163 metres, this mountain stands at the eighth place. Its name means ‘intellect’ or ‘soul’. Located in Nepal, this peak is in the Manaslu Himalaya and is a very dangerous peak to climb. As of 2008, it had been climbed 297 times and has been the site of 53 fatalities, which makes the fatality-to-ascent ratio very high for this peak. This peak saw Toshio Imanishi and Gyalzoj Norbu on its summit in the May of 1956. Thai peak also is a part of a very large Manaslu Conservation Area.
9. Nanga Parbat
At 8,126 metres, Thai peak may not be the highest but it is one of the most difficult climbs of all the eight-thousanders, which is why it has been nicknamed ‘Killer Mountain’. Located in Pakistan, where it is locally known as Diamer, this mountain has the Rakhiot Glacier in one of its parts! The first man to summit it was an Australian called Hermann Buhl, who completed this task all alone, in 1953.
10. Annapurna I
Named after the Hindu goddess of food and nourishment, the Annapurna Massif in the Himalayas, has many descending streams, streams which make water available for agriculture. Although the height of the tallest peak in the Massif is 8,091 metres, the Annapurna peaks are among the most dangerous climbs. The fatality-to-summit ratio is 32%, meaning a person does for every three persons who summit the mountain. It was climbed in 1950, by a French expedition, led by Maurice Herzog, which made it the first eight-thousander to be climbed.
11. Gasherbrum I
Lying in the Baltoro Karakoram range of the Himalayas, this peak is 8,080 metres tall. Its name means ‘beautiful mountain’ in Balti, and it is sometimes called the ‘Hidden Peak’ or ‘K5’. Its summit runs across the Pakistan-China border and it was first climbed to the top in the July of 1958 by Pete Schoening and Andy Kauffman.
12. Broad Peak
The last peak on the list is also on the Pakistan-China border and is 8,041 metres high. At a height of more than 26,000 feet, it was first summited by an Austrian team in June of 1957. It was named by the British Martin Conway I’m 1892.