Throughout history, mountains have proved hugely alluring to mankind — often looked on as the holders of great secrets and mysteries, pathways to the heavens, or as homes to gods and demons.
However, after being left untouched for millenia, it is only in the past century or so that man has finally sought to reach the summits of these majestic peaks.
These high peaks and mountaineering in general have been given even more popular appeal over recent years with the success of a string of movies and documentaries including 2015’s Everest starring Josh Brolin and Jake Gyllenhaal.
There are 14 mountains over 8,000 meters (26,246feet) in the world, all lying in the mighty Himalayas in central and southern Asia.
While all have now been climbed, many lives have been lost along the way as a result of humans’ insatiable quest for adventure. Here we look at the top ten highest mountains in the world, counting down to number one.
10 Annapurna I
Also know as: Goddess of the Harvests
Where can it be found? Himalayas in Central Nepal.
Elevation: 8,091 meters (26,545 feet)
Annapurna I was the first ever mountain over 8,000m to be climbed, when a team led by Frenchman Maurice Herzog got to the summit in June 1950.
It is the highest peak in the Annapurna section of the Himalayas which includes 13 other different peaks over 7,000m. The next three highest are known as Annapurna II, Annapurna III and Annapurna IV.
Of all the mountains in the world, Annapurna I is statistically the most dangerous — with by far and away the highest fatality rate. More people have died on other mountains, including Everest — but because so many more people the climb them the fatality rate is actually much lower.
Recent exact figures are not available, but as of March 2012, there had been 191 successful summits of Annapurna 1 with 52 deaths during ascents and nine while coming down. There is a popular trekking route around the Annapurna range, which features spectacular views and is known as the Annapurna Circuit.
9 Nanga Parbat
Also know as: Deo Mir, Naked Mountain
Where can it be found? Gilgit–Baltistan region of the Himalayas in Pakistan.
Elevation: 8,126 meters (26,660 feet)
Nanga Parbat is one of the most difficult mountains to climb in the world, and is the Holy Grail for many mountaineers. It was first climbed by Austrian Hermann Buhl, as part of a German/Austrian team. It has only ever been summited in summer, although 22 different expeditions have attempted to climb it during winter.
It is an extremely impressive and intimidating mountain to look at, due to its sheer size. Mountaineering legend Reinhold Messner’s younger Brother died on the mountain in 1970.
Nanga Parbat also hit the headlines in June 2013 after Taliban extremists shot to death ten foreign climbers (including one Chinese-American, a Lithuanian, three Ukrainians, two Slovakians, two Chinese, and one Nepali) as well as a Pakistani cook.
Another Chinese man managed to escape, while a second Latvian was outside the camp when the attackers struck. Several of the assailants were arrested in late 2013 and are facing trial in Pakistan.
Also know as: Kutang, Mountain of the Spirit
Where can it be found? Mansiri Himal, in the Nepal region of the Himalayas.
Elevation: 8,156 meters (26,759 feet)
Manaslu was first climbed in May 1956 by Japanese mountaineers Toshio Imanishi and Gyalzen Norbu. It is just forty miles to the east of Annapurna, but lies in Nepal rather than Pakistan.
Statistically, it is the fourth most dangerous peak behind Annapurna, Nanga Parbat and K2. Like Annapurna, there is a popular trekking circuit around Manaslu which is somewhat less frequented than its rival.
Much of the local area has been set up as a Conservation Area to pretect the local habitat. Manaslu is an easily identifiable peak, thanks to its dominant summit and the fact that it stands alone. It is also easily accessible thanks to the long valleys and ridges that lead up to it. The surrounding valleys are used as agricultural land by the local population.
7 Dhaulagiri I
Also know as: Dazzling, white, beautiful mountain (translated from Sanskrit).
Where can it be found? In the Dhaulagiri Himal, part of the Himalayas in Nepal. Its parent peak is K2.
Elevation: 8,167 meters (26,795 feet)
Dhaulagiri I is 21 miles to the west of Annapurna, and is the highest mountain in the Dhaulagiri section of the Himalayas. It was first climbed in May 1960 by four members of a Swiss-Austrian expedition led by Max Eislin. The expedition was supported by a fixed-wing aircraft, but later crashed during take-off and had to be left in the mountains.
When it was first discovered in 1808, Dhalagiri 1 was believed to be the highest mountain in the world.
In 1969 a horrific disaster took place when five of an American team led by Boyd Everett along with two sherpas were killed in an Avalanche while trying to cross a crevasse on the then unclimbed south-east ridge. There was one survivor, Louis Riechardt.
6 Cho Oyu
Also know as: Turquoise Goddess
Where can it be found? 20KM west of Everest on the Tibet and Nepal border.
Elevation: 8,201 meters (26,906 feet)
Cho Oyu lies just 12 miles to the west of Mount Everest, on the Tibet/Nepal border. It is considered to be the easiest climb of all the 14 peaks over 8,000 metres.
This is due to the gradual gradient of the slopes on the ascent as well as a pass which lies nearby that is used by local sherpas as a trading route.
The first attempted ascent was carried out by a team including Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb Everest, in 1952. However, their attempt was scuppered due to a string of difficulties including the danger of avalanches and close proximity of Chinese Army troops.
Two years later, in October 1954, it was successfully summited by Herbert Tichy, Joseph Jochler and Sherpa Pasang Dawa Lama as part of an Austrian expedition. In 1994, Mexican mountaineer Carlos Carsolio climbed the mountain in a record 18 hours and 45 minutes from base camp to summit.
Also known as: Name was taken from Maha-Kala, meaning Big Black
Where can it be found? In the Mahalangur Himalayas, on the border of Nepal and China.
Elevation: 8,463 meters (27,766 feet)
Makalu, located 14 miles southeast of Mount Everest, is the fifth highest mountain in the world. Makalu is impressive to look at, with a beautiful isolated peak, in a distinctive four-sided pyramid shape.
Like many of the other mountains on the list, the summit of Makalu was first reached in the golden age of mountain climbing in the Himalayas — with French mountaineers Lionel Terray and Jean Couzy reaching the summit first on May 15, 1955.
They were followed the day after by Jean Franco, G. Magnone and Sardar Gyaltsen Norbu. All were members of Jean Franco’s expedition. It was a great achievement, as it is considered one of the most difficult mountains in the world to climb.
Also known as: South Peak
Where can it be found? Connected by the South Col to Everest on the border between Tibet and Nepal.
Elevation: 8,516 meters (27,940 feet)
The fourth highest mountain in the world is Lhotse. The mountain is a neighbour of Everest and is connected to the highest mountain in the world by the South Col.
Lhotse has a terrifying and deadly south face, the steepest of all the 8,000 meter-plus mountains (known as “eight-thousander’s”) in the world. It is two miles high height but just 1.4miles long.
The summit of Lhotse was first reached in May 1956 by Swiss climbers Ernst Reiss and Fritz Luchsinger. By December 2008, 371 people had reached the summit of Lhotse and 20 people had died attempting the climb. Both these figures have risen since then, although the exact numbers are not known.
Also known as: The Five Treasures Of The High Snow
Where can it be found? On the border of Nepal and the Indian state of Sikkim.
Elevation: 8,586 meters (28,169 feet)
Kangchenjunga is the third highest mountain in the world and the highest mountain in India. It can can be found in a section of the Himalayas called Kangchenjunga Himal, with it lying partly in Nepal.
The local people of India’s Darjeeling and Sikkim areas have worshiped the mountain and the surrounding mountains for centuries. It is known as the Five Treasures of High Snow because of its five colossal peaks.
Though the mountain has been scaled many times, it is claimed that no one has ever actually reached the summit.
This is because when, when Joe Brown and George Band first climbed Kangchenjunga in 1955, the Maharaja of Sikkim made them promise that they would not actually step on the highest point due it’s sacred nature.
Every climber has reportedly respected this tradition since. It is another particularly difficult mountain to climb, with a death rate reported to be around 22 per cent. And it is an exception to the rule amongst most of the world’s other tallest mountains of seeing fatality rates improve in recent years — as Kangchenjunga’s hasn’t.
Also known as: Mount Godwin Austen, Chhogori, Qogir, Ketu or Kechu.
Where can it be found? In the Himalayas, at the border between Baltistan, in the Gilgit–Baltistan region of northern Pakistan, and the Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County of Xinjiang, China.
Elevation: 8,611 meters (28,251 feet)
The world’s second highest mountain is also one of the most notorious. Known by the nickname Savage Mountain, K2 is an extremely dangerous summit to climb.
For every four people to have reached the summit of K2, one person has died trying. An estimated 306 people have completed the ascent, with more than 80 deaths recorded.
After half a century of failed attempts, the mountain’s summit was finally reached by Italian climbers Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni on July 31, 1954, one year after Everest was scaled by Edmund Hillary. You can watch the trailer for The Summit, below, a 2012 motion picture about K2’s deadliest tragedy when in 2008, 11 climbers died on a single day.
Also Known as: Mount Everest, Sagarmatha and Chomolungma.
Where can it be found? The Mahalangur region of the Himalayas range. The border of China and Nepal is found at the summit of Everest.
Elevation: 8,848 meters (29,029 feet)
The highest mountain on the planet is, of course, Everest. This iconic mountain has been on the mind of climbers for centuries and is the pinnacle for any hardcore mountain climber today, although not the most difficult summit to reach.
There had been many failed attempts to reach the top of Everest before it was finally scaled by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary in 1953.
The most famous attempt previously came from British climbers George Mallory and Andrew Irvine. It is still a mystery to this day whether or not they reached the summit as they never returned.
They were last spotted alive high up the mountain before disappearing out of sight. The body of George Mallory was discovered by an expedition in 1999, 8,155 meters up, on the mountain’s North Face.
In April 2014, an avalanche on the mountain’s perilous Khumba Icefall resulted in the death of 16 Sherpa guides, which was the mountain’s worst ever tragedy — the story of which is told in the documentary film Sherpa.