Teens Push Season in Race For Youngest 14×8,000m Record

The 2024 spring climbing season is, surprisingly, not yet over. Nima Rinji of Nepal and Alasdair McKenzie of France/UK are competing (admittedly or not) to become the youngest 14×8,000m summiter.

Both are currently high up, one on Kangchenjunga and the other on the South Face of Cho Oyu. The mountains are different, but the climbers’ methods are similar: strong support, resources to extend the season, determination, assumption of risk, and secrecy.

What we know

Nima Rinji and a sherpa team launched a summit push on Kangchenjunga after everyone else left the mountain. The team needs to be strong enough to fix ropes between Camp 4 and the summit. The only two summiters this spring, Oswald Pereira and Bartek Ziemski of Poland, climbed that section without ropes (or bottled oxygen).

There’s been no news since the team reached Base Camp on June 3. However, they said they would start the push immediately, so they should be attempting the summit today or tomorrow. The weather is cold, with some snow.

Weather forecast for Kangchenjunga

Weather forecast for Kangchenjunga at summit altitude, by multimodel MountainForecast.com


If there is little information about the team on Kangchenjunga, there is even less about the expedition trying to climb the highly difficult route up Cho Oyu from Nepal. They are probably going via the SSW Ridge, which has never been climbed entirely. The only bits of information come from Japanese climber Naoko Watanabe, who is currently in Nepal. She too is pursuing the 14×8,000’ers challenge and has excellent contacts in the Sherpa community. Here is a translation of what she posted on X, although neither McKenzie nor Seven Summit Treks has confirmed this information.

Apparently, they’ve pushed for the summit three times. They said they’d give [the sherpas] a bonus every time they pushed for the summit, but they didn’t. They got sick with sore throats, they ran out of oxygen bottles, they ran out of ropes, and the client just kept asking to summit. They hired seven sherpas for only one client. The client also got a sore throat so they went to Lukla by helicopter to rest once…They’ve spent so much money that they have lost track of when to stop. This time, it’s a tenacious expedition by one strong sherpa who wants to be the first in the world to summit [Cho Oyu from the South Side] and a member who wants to be the youngest in the world to summit the 14 peaks. The sherpas must be exhausted.


According to MountainForecast.com, the weather on Cho Oyu will be sunny but bitterly cold. Winds are moderate from the WSW but will decrease and turn to NW through Sunday.

The contenders

Both climbers are 18 years old, have reached 12 summits already, and are now attempting their 13th.

Both have a strong sherpa team supporting them, but neither is completely dependent. Several Annapurna climbers this spring remarked how Nima Rinji was strong, reliable, and helpful to other team members. The Cho Oyu sherpas tell Naoko Watanabe that McKenzie is helping carry ropes and gear up the mountain.

Until this year, McKenzie climbed with Elite Exped, but he is attempting Cho Oyu with Seven Summit Treks. He has openly said he wants to bag the youngest 14×8,000m record. Otherwise, he keeps a low profile.

Meanwhile, Nima Rinji is the son of 7ST founder Tashi Lakpa Sherpa (who now runs a sister company, 14 Peaks Expeditions) and the nephew of 7ST climbing director Chhang Dawa Sherpa.

Rinji started his 14×8,000m project last year but has progressed fast, always as a member of 7ST teams. He has also a strong social media presence. After climbing Annapurna and Makalu earlier this spring, he went to India on a lecture tour.

After returning home, he went to Kangchenjunga. Annapurna was also the first peak he climbed without bottled oxygen. However, some team members took a helicopter down from Camp 3; we await confirmation on who took the helicopter and who climbed down to Base Camp.

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Grand finale in the fall?

Should both McKenzie and Nima Rinji succeed, they would both have only Shisha Pangma to go. Outfitters are hopeful the China/Tibet Mountaineering Association will again open Shisha Pangma to foreigners in the fall. However, this is not confirmed, and many were equally optimistic that the mountain would open this spring, which it ultimately did not.

If McKenzie failed on Cho Oyu, he would also need to place his hopes in the fall season. Cho Oyu’s normal route, also in Tibet, is also expected to open in October.

If the CTMA finally agrees to open Shisha Pangma, several young climbers will opt for records on the mountain. Although already in her 20s, Adriana Brownlee of the UK will try to become the youngest female 14×8,000m summiter and the first UK woman to bag the 14 peaks.

Shehroze Kashif, also in his early 20s, still has a chance to become Pakistan’s first 14×8,000m summiter, and certainly the youngest. Fellow Pakistani Sirbaz Khan is attempting the feat without supplemental oxygen. And if Naoko Watanabe succeeded on Shisha Pangma, she would become the first Japanese woman to summit all the 8,000’ers.

The combination of Shisha Pangma and the current competition for 14×8,000m records recalls last year, when the race to become the first U.S. woman to summit those 14 peaks ended in tragedy. Anna Gutu and Gina Marie Rzucidlo both perished in separate avalanches as they raced for a summit that, ultimately, neither reached.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.