About 50 years after the measure of a meter was defined (it is one ten millionth of the length of the quadrant from the equator to the north pole via Dunkirk in France), the highest peaks of he Himalayan and Karakoram mountains were being explored. When the heights of the greatest peaks were converted from the original British Imperial measurements, only 14 of the many thousands of mountains were above the magical 8000m mark.
Climbing 8000m peaks is therefore somewhat arbitrary and a man made notion. Had the measure been decided upon differently there would have perhaps been far too many high peaks to be climbed in a lifetime or perhaps only one or two would qualify. Aside of the measurement the 8000m peaks are the 14 highest mountains in the world and they are all in the Himalayan and Karakoram mountains in Nepal, India, Pakistan and Tibet.
From a mountaineers point of view, it is because they are the highest mountains on earth that they are so attractive. It is also because of their great heights that there are no ‘easy’ 8,000m peaks. Some a clearly more technically difficult than others but all are at the threshold of what humanly possible, irrespective of the latest developments in knowledge, gear and for some peaks supplementary oxygen system.
Currently we offer following expeditions to 8,000m peaks. We operate on both the south (Nepal) side and north (Tibet) side of Everest (8,848m) in the pre monsoon season and also organize expeditions to Cho Oyu (8,201m) and Shisapangma (8,046m) in Tibet during pre monsoon & post monsoon. Both these latter two peaks being generally considered to be less technical than others and more suited to a first 8,000m ascent.
The reasons why mountaineers are attracted to climb the 8,000m peaks are varied. Mallory’s famous answer about Everest “because it is there” doesn’t clarify much, but there is some truth in it. It is because we want to challenge ourselves against the highest peaks that we are attracted. Some modern climbers take it further and attempt to climb all 14 or to complete the 7 summits – the highest peak on every continent. For most through it is a once in a lifetime challenge, a dream that you dare to make a reality.