Climbing the world’s 14 peaks over 8,000 meters is a once-in-a-lifetime goal for experienced mountaineers and only 50 mountaineers have ever achieved it. Nepalese mountaineer Sanu Sherpa is the first to achieve this feat twice.
Last month, this high mountain guide reached the summit of Gasherbrum II (8,035 meters) in Pakistan for the second time in his life, to accompany his client, a Japanese mountaineer. He had just set the historical record for the double ascent of the “8,000”, designating the 14 peaks over 8,000 meters above sea level, the highest in the world, which he has now climbed at least twice each. “What I’ve done isn’t rocket science. I’m just doing my job.”the 47-year-old man simply declares to AFP.
But Sanu Sherpa nevertheless accomplished a feat hailed by Nepalese Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jeevan Ram Shrestha, believing he was “a source of inspiration for mountaineers from all over the world”. He began his mountaineering career as a porter and canteen assistant on expeditions. He reached his first 8,000-meter peak, Cho Oyu, in 2006, wearing old climbing shoes given to him by a colleague. He then he led a group of South Koreans. “I had the impression that the Korean mountaineers would not be able to reach the summit, yet I had to do it, if I failed I risked not finding a new mission on my return”, he says. After Cho Oyu, “one of my foreign friends advised me to attempt the remaining seven peaks rather than climbing the same mountain over and over”he remembers, “I told myself that I could and should make the double ascent of all the mountains” over 8000 m.
In 2019 he had twice conquered half of the 14 highest peaks in the world.
Sanu Sherpa grew up in the Sankhuwasabha district of eastern Nepal, home to Mount Makalu, the fifth highest peak in the world. When many of his companions had left to climb the mountains, young Sanu had preferred to stay in his village to grow potatoes and corn and take the yaks to graze. But at thirty he ended up leaving, becoming a mountain guide like the others, hoping that this activity would provide for the needs of the eight members of his family and also to fulfill his simple dream, “be equipped with mountain equipment”. Now, having just returned to Kathmandu from Pakistan, Sanu Sherpa is preparing to climb Manaslu, a peak he has already climbed three times, to bring a client there. “I can make the triple climb” other vertices, he assures us, before adding: “It could also be a matter of luck”
He has already reached three of the 14 “8,000” peaks three times. He has also reached the summit of Everest seven times.
Everest takes flight
Sanu Sherpa, a mountaineer from Nepal, has set a world record by climbing all 14 of the world’s highest peaks twice. pic.twitter.com/MThGoutj3L
– South China Morning Post (@SCMPNews) 23 August 2022
It is the Sherpas who have always been in charge of logistics and security and have ensured the success of the expeditions undertaken by these foreign climbers. Climbing the “roof of the world” costs its customers more than $ 45,000 on average. Long overshadowed by mountaineers from elsewhere, Nepalese mountain guides from the Everest valleys form the basis of the Himalayan mountaineering industry. Only recently have their exploits been gradually recognized. But they pay dearly, their profession is dangerous. Above 8,000 m, where oxygen becomes scarce, mountaineers enter the “lethal zone”. Each year, more than a dozen climbers die of the “8,000” in Nepal. About a third of Everest’s victims are Nepalese guides and porters. “I met many corpses along the mountain”Sanu Sherpa said, “How would my family and my children live if I met the same fate?” Sherpa’s family often tells him that he has had enough in the mountains and that now is the time to hang up the ice axes. “Sometimes I want to stop and sometimes I don’t (…) What to do besides climbing? There is no other perspective”.
Nepal: Mountaineer Nirmal Purja says he climbed fourteen “8,000” in seven months
The 14 peaks over 8,000 m of altitude
14 peaks exceed 8,000 m of altitude. They are all in Asia, in the Himalayan belt, between China, India, Nepal and Pakistan.
1. Everest, 8849 m.
2. K2, 8611 m.
3. Kangchenjunga, 8586 m.
4. Lhotse, 8516 m.
5. Makalu, 8485 m.
6. Cho Oyu, 8201 m.
7. Dhaulagiri, 8167 m.
8. Manaslù, 8163 m.
9. Nanga Parbat, 8126 m.
10. Annapurna I, 8091 m.
11. Gasherbrum I, 8080 m.
12. Broad Peak, 8047m.
13. Gasherbrum II, 8035 m.
14. Shishapangma, 8027 m.