Veteran 14x8000m Summiters Eye New Routes in the Himalaya

8000ers Climbing
Romano Benet and Nives Meroi
Romano Benet and Nives Meroi, always together, are back to Kangchenjunga Massif

They fought, failed, summited, survived — sometimes by sheer by miracle — to pursue the ultimate goal in high altitude mountaineering. After they finally climbed all 14×8000’ers, these climbers could have retired and spent their time telling mountain stories rather than actually climbing.

But a handful of the 36 living legends who have climbed all 14 8000’ers on earth have returned to the Himalaya this spring to pursue new routes. Let’s have a look.

Now 65, Oscar Cadiach completed his long quest just two years ago. This spring, he hopes to add a final trophy to his Himalayan resumé: Gyachung Kang, the 15th tallest peak on Earth. The 7,952m spire in the Mahalangur Himal, between Cho Oyu and Everest, straddles the Nepal-Tibet border. In fact, Cadiach’s original dream was to traverse from the summit along a seven-kilometre ridge to the top of Cho Oyu, but financial and bureaucratic difficulties forced him to stick to a one-mountain B plan.

Instead, the Catalonian will try to open a new route up the peak’s yet unclimbed eastern face, together with 34-year-old Jonathan Garcia, with whom he roped up for the first time on Broad Peak in 2016.

Together as always, Italians Nives Meroi (57) and Romano Benet (56) are returning to the place which marked the most dramatic episode of their climbing careers: the Kangchenjunga Massif. There, while Meroi was in a tight race with Edurne Pasaban to become the first female 14×8000’er summiter, her husband suddenly fell ill. Meroi immediately aborted her climb and nursed him through what turned out to be a two-year-long illness.

Once Benet was back on his feet, the couple resumed climbing. Hand in hand, they stood on the summit of their 14th 8000’er, Annapurna, in 2017. Now they have set their sights on Kangbachen (7,902m), the lowest point of the so-called Five Treasures –- the five points of Kangchenjunga Massif. Besides Kangbachen, the Five Treasures include the main peak at 8,586m, the Yalung Kang at 8,505m, Kangchenjunga South at 8,476m and the central peak at 8,473m. The Italians’ planned itinerary follows a line up the yet unclimbed South Face.

Slovakian Peter Hamor is returning to his last 8000’er, Dhaulagiri, to tackle the imposing NW ridge, only attempted once before by Valeri Babanov and Nikolai Tomianyn. Romanians Horia Colibasanu and Marius Gane will team up with Hamor.

Jorge Egocheaga is on the South Face of Lhotse, with Korean Hong Sung-Taek.

Dawa_Sherpa, image by Seven Summits Treks

Chhang Dawa Sherpa. Photo: Seven Summits Treks

Chhang Dawa Sherpa, the youngest 14×8000’er summiter so far, is on Annapurna –- at work. He is the Seven Summits Treks expedition leader and coordinated the massive push that ended up with 32 climbers on top last Monday. He also organized the search for and evacuation of Malaysian Wui Kin Chin, who became stranded during his descent and later died from his injuries in a Singapore hospital.

Related stories:

Romanian-Slovakian Team Reach Dhaulagiri

Abandoned Malaysian Climber in Critical Condition


About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!

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2 years ago

Great story idea, Angela B., and or Editorial,

And great for these climbers who are still willing and able to crunch big mountains! I have wondered though, about the odds, not from age, but from repetitions. Are there odds in climbing success from numbers of climbs . . . they’re all dangerous above twenty feet or so. Maybe it makes no difference, like flipping a coin: If you are fit, then the wheel is reset each time you ascend. Best luck to all the inspired mentioned.