“The 14 Eight-thousanders.”
Not only are they the world’s highest 14 snow-capped mountains, they are the only mountain peaks in the world with a height that is 8,000m or greater above sea level. Scaling all 14 of these summits is no doubt the highest honour in modern mountaineering. Only the strongest, toughest, and luckiest mountaineers are able to complete this challenge.
To the average person, climbing just one of these mountains is extremely difficult. Yet, thanks to developing tourism and trekking opportunities, climbing all 14 of the eight-thousanders is no longer a distant dream for a lucky few.
These 5 trekking routes will make it possible for you to encounter all 14 of these mountains. You’ll be surrounded by breath-taking landscapes as you complete one of the most rewarding challenges in the world. Glaciers, canyons, and close-up experiences with snow-capped peaks await.
1. Darjeeling Sandakphu Phalut Trek
Time Required: 5-7 Days
Eight-Thousanders: 1 (Mt Kanchenjunga)
At 8,586m, Mt Kanchenjunga has numerous scenic trekking routes. The journey to the Nepal side of the base camp is difficult and requires 3 weeks. On the Sikkim side, the base camp has political restrictions in place. That means the primary route is Sandakphu Phalut.
Sandakphu and Phalut are two 3,000m peaks near Darjeeling, India. This popular route offers a main mountain road that is accessible by vehicles. The route is not difficult and there are facilities along the way.
Several other mountain peaks can be seen from afar along this route as well. You’ll encounter farms, forests, pastures, villages, and other vibrant scenes.
2. Shishapangma Northern Route
Time Required: 2-10 Days
Eight-Thousanders: 1 (Mt Shishapangma)
Mt Shishapangma is the only mountain in the territorial areas of the People’s Republic of China with a height of 8,000m. It was the last mountain summited of the 14 by humans. Taking the traditional route to the base camp on the northern face is not difficult. The trek to and from Nyalam county requires just 3 days.
The longer circuit, which can take up to 10 days, allows you to explore alpine lakes, glaciers, and much more during your journey.
3. Nepal Annapurna Circuit Trek + Base Camp Trek
Time Required: 12-22 Days
Eight-Thousanders: 3 (Mt Dhaulagiri, Mt Manaslu, Mt Annapurna)
The Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) trek is an entry-level high-altitude trekking route. It begins from the region near Pokhara and leads straight toward the snow-capped mountains. At the end of the trek, adventurers will meet a large rock wall that blocks their path. It is one of the most dangerous areas in the eight-thousander region.
While trekking along the ABC trek, you will meet Mt Machhapuchhre, which is famous for its fish-tail landscape.
The Annapurna Circuit Trek is about 5-8 days into the ABC trek. It is hailed as one of the world’s prettiest trekking routes. Road developments along Thorong-la Pass have made it possible to complete the trek in as little as 7 days instead of 14-21 days in the past. The tea houses at the pass, at an altitude of 5,416m, are the highest in the world.
Along the Circuit Trek is Mt Manaslu. Derived from the Sanskrit word “manasa,” it means “mountain of the spirit.” It is a sacred area for the local population.
After crossing Thorong-la Pass, adventurers enter the Mustang region. This is where Mt Dhaulagiri, or “beautiful white mountain,” is located. Its pyramid-like shape with steep cliffs is quite stunning, but difficult to climb. The first successful attempt occurred in 1960 by a team of Swiss, Polish, and American mountaineers.
4. Nepal Everest Base Camp + Gokyo Lake Trek
Time Required: 12-20 Days
Eight-Thousanders: 4 (Mt Everest, Mt Lhotse, Mt Makalu, Mt Cho-Oyu)
The Everest trekking circuit, or Everest Base Camp (EBC) trek, is a classic tea house route with several rest stops along the way. It is not a difficult trek as stops occur every 1-2 hours, so there is no need to carry food or camping equipment. Guides/Porters can be hired for USD $15 each day to further ease the load.
That means the challenge of this route is the altitude. For the second half of the trek, you’re hiking and sleeping above 4,000m. A couple days require you to stay above 5,000m and above. It tests the adaptability of the body, especially when trekking through the passes that occur at the highest altitudes.
A determined body and mind is required to accomplish this trek.
The rewards of the views from Everest may not seem as majestic as others, especially close-up on the North Face, it still evokes emotion. You’re walking in the footsteps of the pioneers in the 1950s who started the golden era of mountaineering.
Next to Mt Everest is Mt Lohtse, which is more difficult to climb even though it is shorter.
Mt Makalu lies 24km east of Mt Everest and is easy to know that you’re looking at it. Two tall, flanking shoulder peaks and a large area of glacier can be seen at the foot of the mountain. It can be best admired from the Mt Gokyo Ri region. Consider approaching Mt Everest from the eastern face for the best views of this eight-thousander.
Mt Cho-Oyu means “turquoise goddess” in Tibetan. It strides across the border of China and Nepal. There are 5 ridges, named after their directional placement, which offer spectacular views of snow peaks with overlaying stacks of mountain ridges. The views of Gokyo village and Third Gokyo Lake provide perspective about where and who we are in today’s world.
Similar to Mt Machhapuchhre, Ama Dablam may not be the tallest mountain, but it offers a tall, straight, and elegant structure. It provides an iconic photograph amongst the tallest peaks in the world.
The EBC and Gokyo circuit are linked via the Chola Pass. It is a wonderful place to admire the beauty of the lakes in the region and the spectacular landscapes of Mt Gokyo and should not be missed.
5. Pakistan K2 + G1G2 + Mt Namjagbarwa Base Camp Trek
Time Required: 16-24 Days
Eight-Thousanders: 5 (Mt Chhogori, Mt Namjagbarwa, Mt Gasherbrum I & II, Mt Broad Peak)
The final ultimate trek provides you access to some of the most impressive views the eight-thousanders offer.
The K2 Base Camp trek is popular, though it offers views of Mt Chhogori and Mt Broad Peak only. If you add just 5 days to the trek, you’ll be able to see 3 more of the eight-thousanders.
Chhogori in Balti means “Big Mountain.” It’s the highest peak in the Karakoram region, right on the border of Pakistan and China. It features a pyramid-like structure, steep cliffs, and unpredictable harsh weather. It is a mountain that is undisputedly savage. The first successful summit was achieved by an Italian team in 1954.
The gradual gradient of Mt Broad Peak makes it one of the easier mountains to explore of the eight-thousanders. It also means that without some discernment, climbing the wrong peak is easy to do.
From Concordia Base Camp, the K2 trekking route splits into two segments. One side leads to the K2 Base Camp, while the other goes to the G1G2 Base Camp. The latter requires an additional 2 days to complete.
Below is Mt Gasherbrum I (8080m) and the huge glacier at the foot of the mountain.
The G1G2 peaks resemble impressive gigantic pyramids when viewed from Pakistan.
The Namjagbarwa Base Camp trek is 3 days and involves travelling by car from the K2 starting point in Skardu District to the heavenly Fairy Meadow. A half-day trek from the meadow allows you to reach the base camp.
Along the K2 trek, you will be greeted by the Trango Towers, Muztagh Ata, G4, and several more mountains with steep, peculiar, and beautiful peaks. Only then is it possible to truly experience the greatness of Mother Nature.
During the second half of the K2 Base Camp Trek, you will be trekking across glaciers with spectacular views.
Bright, twinkling stars from the Milky Way shine above the plateau, accompanying all those who journey here to the land of dreams.
These are the 5 world-class trekking routes that all who love the mountains dream about completing one day. Even though we may not have the capability of climbing each of these mountains to experience being at the top of the world, we can challenge ourselves to complete these stunning trekking routes.
By glimpsing the world’s highest mountains and their extreme beauty, we can see in their reflection our lives, hopefully lived with no regrets.
Inspired by original article here
Written by Lim Yi Zhen
Yi Zhen is an inquisitive girl with a flair for English and Chinese copywriting and translation. She has a silly persistence to pick up random skills in life, such as learning to write with her left hand when she is a right hander. Every year, she racks her brains to find an interesting place to do her "Trip-of-the-Year".
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