Top Himalayan peaks and their elevation in metres

1. Everest - (Sagarmatha/Qomolangma) - 8850 - Nepal-Tibet
2. K2 - (Godwin Austen) - 8611 - (Pak./China occupied Kashmir)
3. Kanchenjunga - 8598 - Nepal-India
4. Lhotse - 8501 - Nepal/Tibet 
5. Makalu - 8463 - Nepal/Tibet 
6. Cho Oyu - 8201 - Nepal/Tibet
7. Dhaulagiri - 8167 - Nepal 
8. Manaslu - 8163 - Nepal 
9. Nanga Parbat - 8125 - Pak. occupied Kashmir 
10. Annapurna - 8091 - Nepal 
11. Gasherbrum I - 8068 - Pak./China occupied Kashmir 
12. Broad Peak - 8047 - Pak./China occupied Kashmir 
13. Shisha Pangma - (Xixabangma Feng/Gosainthan) - 8046 - Nepal/Tibet 
14. Gasherbrum II - 8035 - Pak./China occupied Kashmir 
**** Multiply by 3.25 to get values in feet.
  • The names of the peaks have an interesting history. Everest was named after the British Surveyor-General to India. Initially it had the uninspiring name of Peak XXV. First climbed in 1953 by Tenzing and Hillary, it lies in the Khumbu Himal range.

  • K2 is called so because it was the second peak in the Karakoram Range of the Himalayas to be measured. K1 goes to another peak called Masherbrum (~7900m) which appeared to be higher since it was much closer to the surveyor (Montgomerie). K2 is also named after the English topographer Henry Godwin-Austen who first explored the region (Called Mt. Qogori by the Chinese since it's drained by the Qogori glacier which becomes the Shaksgam river). It was first climbed in 1954. It is often rated as the hardest 8000m mountain to climb with 164 successful summitteers and 48 fatalities. Just like Everest has the very popular South-East ridge route, so does K2, also called the Abruzzi spur after the Italian duke who first stepped on the spur in the late 19th century (but did not get very high). For a very brief time in 1986, K2 held the title of the tallest mountain in the world because a brief, uncertain measurement using GPS gave it a higher elevation than Everest. This was quickly dispelled by a follow-up expedition led by the same Italian team which first climbed the mountain in 1954. Amazingly, the measurements of the Great Trigonometric Survey of India in the early and mid-19th century has been verified by current technologically advanced measurements as being accurate to within a few metres !

  • Kanchenjunga - 1955 (Nobody is permitted to climb to the summit of Kanchenjunga since it is a holy mountain. The closest one can get is about 100m from the summit). Lhotse - 1956 Makalu - 1958 Cho Oyu - 1954. Annapurna was the first of the 8000m peaks summited in 1950 by a French team led by Maurice Herzog. Clearly the 1950's were the golden age of climbing.

  • While many of these peaks are not outrageously difficult to climb, the effects of altitude play a prominent role in enhancing the risks. Most climbers these days climb with supplementary bottled oxygen because the air on the summit of Everest is a third as dense than at sea level, which implies that the amount of oxygen available in each breath is also about a third. However, when climbing with bottled oxygen one is subject to the vicissitudes of their equipment - so if your oxygen regulator fails at high altitude your body suddenly has to deal with reduced oxygen intake. This in my opinion poses a far greater risk than climbing without supplementary oxygen. Also if one were trying to be in harmony with nature or challenge her in any way, it is aesthetically appealing to do it with as little aid as possible. Altitude sickness also affects each person differently and at different altitudes. I have become weak in the legs or woozy twice at 10,000 feet when I went straight up from sea level. On the other hand, with proper acclimatization, I wasn't feeling any ill effects at 18,000' feet. Common symptoms are headache, wheezing/gasping for air, weakness and dizziness, inability to see clearly. Severe effects of altitude are cerebral and pulmonary edema where the brain and lungs get filled with water. The only solution
    in these cases is to get down to a lower altitude rapidly although incarcertation in a hyperbaric chamber (Gamow Bag) has also been shown to be useful.

    The Seven Summits of the World

    Everest (8850 m, Asia)
    Aconcagua (6960 m, South America)
    Denali/McKinley (6194 m, North America)
    Kosciuscko (2228 m, Australia)
    Kilimanjaro (5895 m, Africa)
    Mont Blanc (4807 m, Europe)
    Vinson Massif (5140 m, Antarctica)
    There is also some debate about which seven are really the seven summits since Mt. Elbrus (5633 m) which is in Russia is higher than Mont Blanc but Russia has always been considered part of Asia. Similarly Mt. Carstenz in Indonesia (5030 m) is taller than Kosciusko and it has been argued that Australasia which includes the Indonesian island of New Guinea should be considered a continent not just Australia. Even Mount Cook (3764 m) in NZ occasionally makes it into the seven summits depending on who you talk to.