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with Stefan Nestler

The magic 14

Three 8000ers at a glance: Mount Everest, Lhotse, Makalu (from l. to r.)

It is only a number, but one that plays an important role in the world of high altitude climbers. Everyone who has scaled all 14 eight-thousanders counts in the scene – even more if he or she has managed it without bottled oxygen. The circle is still quite exclusive: According to, the website of the German Himalayan chronicler Eberhard Jurgalski, 34 climbers have completed the collection, 15 of them completely without breathing mask. This list could be extended this spring.


Not by hook or by crook

Nives Meroi and Romano Benet

Nives Meroi and Romano Benet from Italy are trying to scale Annapurna. In case of success, the two 55-year-olds would be the first couple to reach together all the summits of the 14 highest mountains in the world – without the use of bottled oxygen and Sherpa support. It is their third attempt on Annapurna after 2006 and 2009. “In both cases we abandoned our attempts because the conditions were too dangerous. I and Romano are experts in the ‘art of escape without shame’,” Nives told me last year. “We`ll face it again this way.” Means: not by hook or by crook.

Latorre’s mission

Ferran Latorre

Only Mount Everest is still missing in the eight-thousander collection of the Spaniard Ferran Latorre. He climbed the other 13 without breathing mask and he will try it on Everest too. Latorre selects the ascent via the Nepalese south side. “Everest is my mission, Everest is my dream,” the 46-year-old Catalan wrote on Facebook and quoted from the song “Mission” of his favorite band “Rush”: “We each pay a fabulous price for our visions of paradise. But a spirit with a vision is a dream with a mission.“

Make amends

Ralf Dujmovits on Cholatse

Ralf Dujmovits has not yet given up his dream. The 55-year-old has already scaled all 14 eight-thousanders, as the first and so far only German climber, but only 13 of them without bottled oxygen. In 1992 on Everest, Ralf used a breathing mask above the South Col. He feels this was a mistake that has to be wiped out. After his successful acclimatization on the six-thousander Cholatse in the Khumbu area, Dujmovits will fly to Lhasa on Saturday and travel from there to the Base Camp on the Tibetan north side of Everest. It will be, in his own words, “my definitively last attempt” to complete his eight-thousander collection without supplemental oxygen.

Strong oldie

Carlos Soria (r.) in front of Dhaulagiri (with Sito Carcavilla l.)

Peter Hamor is also only one peak away from his 14-eight-thousander-happiness without supplemental oxygen. The 52-year-old Slovak wants to climb Dhaulagiri this spring – as well as the Spaniard Carlos Soria, who could very soon appear as the oldest climber in the “14er club”. Dhaulagiri would be the 13th eight-thousander for the 78-year-old. If he is successful, only Shishapangma would be missing. Carlos scaled his first eight-thousander, Nanga Parbat, at the age of 51. The high-performance senior already holds the age records on K 2 (aged 65), Broad Peak (68), Makalu (69), Gasherbrum I (70), Manaslu (71), Lhotse (72), Kangchendzönga (75) and Annapurna (77). Soria has been staying in the Base Camp at the foot of Dhaulagiri. The climbers expect a few days of bad weather “as usual in these mountains”, twittered his team: “Now it’s waiting and waiting for the moment.”

Update 25 April: There is currently so much going on in the Himalayas, that I have overlooked another climber, who can make the 14 eight-thousanders full this spring. The Iranian Azim Gheychisaz plans to climb Lhotse, without breathing mask. He has climbed the other 13 without bottled oxygen, last in 2016 Everest. It was his second summit success on the highest mountain on earth, after he had first climbed it using a breathing mask.


21. April 2017 | 15:30