Top of the World- The Himalayan Range
It’s probably a part of general knowledge by now that the Himalayan Range is home to the highest peaks of the world. A good portion of the top highest peaks of the world lies within this mountain range. Formed when the Indian tectonic plate pushed the Eurasian tectonic plate to form this about 50 million years ago. Yeah, the mountains in the Himalayan range are pretty high and distinguished, and if you want to know how distinguished, then there are 14 points on this earth’s surface that reach over the 8000m elevation over the sea level. And all 14 of those points are the peaks of the mountains that lie on the Himalayan Mountain Range. The highest peak outside this range is Aconcagua of the Andes Mountain Range, standing at 7000m above sea level.
However back at the Himalayan range, among the 14 peaks that are above the 8000m elevation line. Eight lie within or around the border of a tiny landlocked country between the worlds’ two superpowers India and China. The tiny country is known as Nepal. The 8 peaks that lie within Nepal are all among the top 10 highest peaks in the world and among them is the highest peak of the world, Mt. Everest. As a quick mention here’s a list of the peaks among the 14 that are outside the Nepalese borders and their elevation and ranking:
- K2(Pakistan/China), 2, 8611m
- Nanga Parbat(Pakistan), 9, 8125m
- Gasherbrum I(Pakistan/China), 11, 8068m
- Broad Peak(Pakistan/China), 12, 8047m
- Gasherbrum II(Pakistan/China), 13, 8035m
- Shisha Pangma(Tibet), 14, 8013m
Now onto those that are within the borders of Nepal.
Standing at 8848m above the sea level Mt. Everest. Its locally known as the Sagarmatha, named after the goddess of the sky, is the highest peak in the world. Lying at the border between Nepal and China, currently in the Solukhumbu district, Province 1 area, the Everest was first summited on 29th May, 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. Accessed to the mountaineers through the Namchhe Bazzar area on the Nepalese side of the peak, the peak has been summited 4000+ times since and is still one of the most popular peaks in the world.
The area around the peak has also spawned a National Park around it, the Sagarmatha National Park, which contains peaks like Gokyo Ri, Pumori, Baruntse, and many more along with the Everest within its 1148 km2 area. The peak is accessed through the Namchhe Bazzar route from the Nepalese side of the peak and that too is a popular tourism destination of the country.
At 8586m, the Kangchenjunga is the third highest peak of the world. Lying in the Taplejung district at the Nepal/Sikkim border of Eastern Nepal. It was thought be the highest peak of the world up till the recalculation by the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India in 1852, when it was concluded that the Everest, then known as Peak XV is infact the highest peak in the world. Kangchenjunga was first summited by Joe Brown and George Band on 25th May, 1955. The mountain’s name is translated to “The Five treasures of the high snow”, originating from Tibetan language.
Of the four routes available in climbing to the peak, 3 lie in Nepal, with the only other route being banned by the government of India in 2000. The location surrounding the peak is remotely located from all side, and that added to the difficult accessibility has preserved the pristine beauty of the surrounding area.
The fourth tallest peak of the world Lhotse, i.e. the South peak standing at 8516m, , lies in the Solukhumbu District in the Khumbu region in the border between Nepal and Tibet. It was first ascended on 18th May, 1956 by F. Luchsinger and E. Reiss. The peak lies close by to the highest peak of the world Mt. Everest. Infact it is a part of the Everest Massif. The highlight of this peak is however its western flank known as the Lhotse face which is a steep part of the mountain that must be passed by climbers looking to climb the South Col on Everest.
Topping at 8485m above sea level is the Makalu, the big black, is the fifth highest mountain peak in the world. It lies in the Nepal/Tibet border in the Sankhuwasabha District of Eastern Nepal. First summited on 15th May 1955 by Lionel Terray and Jean Couzy, with the rest of the team also reaching the top in the span of the next two days. This was the first time more than two people summited the peak. Prior to this usually only one or two of the expedition members would, summit with the rest of the group usually returning from a lower altitude. It is considered one of the most difficult mountains to climb. It gained its notoriety for its steep pitches and knife edged ridges.
5. Cho Oyu
At 8188m elevation above sea level, Cho Oyu is the sixth highest peak in the world. Standing at the Nepal/Tibet border, among the Everest Massif of Eastern Nepal. The name means, the Turquoise Goddess in Tibetan language. It is the most favoured of the peaks after the Everest. Considered as the easiest peak to summit among the 8000+ m group, and thus is the second most climbed peak of the group after the highest peak of the world. The Cho Oyu was first ascended on 19th October 1954, by Herbert Ticky, Joseph Jöchler and Sherpa Pasang Dawa Lama.
The comparative ease in climbing to the peak has made the peak being marketed as the “Trekking Peak”. Another thing about Cho Oyu’s peak is that, the prayer flag on the top is not at the exact summit of the mountain per say, with the top of this peak being broadly flat.
The Dhaulagiri is the seventh highest peak of the world, standing at 8167m above sea level in the Myagdi district, of Central Nepal. Its the highest point in the Gandaki basin area, is entirely inside the Nepalese borders. The name of the peak comes from Sanskrit, translated to dazzling/beautiful mountain. It was the highest mountain surveyed in 1808, however that title was taken from it by Kangchenjunga in 1838. But finally it went to Peak XV, i.e. the Everest in 1858. The Dhaulagiri forms the Dhaulagiri Massif in the Himalayan Range, which consists of other peaks like Churen Himal and Phutha Hiunchuli. First ascended on 13th May 1960 by A. Schelbert, E. Forrer, K. Diemberger, P. Diener, Nyima Dorji and Nawang Dorji.
Also known as Kutang, standing at 8163m above sea level, Manaslu, the mountain of the spirit, is the eighth highest mountain peak in the world. Lying within the borders of Nepal in the district of Gorkha. First summited by T. Imamishi, K. Kato, M. Higeta, G. Norbu on 9th May 1956. The area surrounding the peak spawned the Manaslu Conservation Area, and is a popular trekking area for people, locals and tourists alike. The area provides a view of the snow-capped mountains and gives a chance to interact with the different ethnic groups that live across the hilly and mountainous villages scattered across the land. Due to the landscape and the flora and fauna, the trek to the Manaslu is considered as a test of endurance.
The Annapurna or its highest Peak, Annapurna I, standing at 8091m above sea level is the tenth highest peak. It lies entirely inside the Nepalese border in the Mustang district. When it was summited by M. Herzog and L. Lachenal on 3rd June 1950, it became the first peak above 8000m to be summited. Named after the Goddess of nourishment and harvest, the peak Annapurna I is a part of the Annapurna Massif group of the Himalayan Mountain Range. It contains other notable peaks like the lower Annapurna peak group, the Gangapurna, the Tilicho Peak and Machhapuchhre.
The Annapurna Conservation Area, is a trekking area. Even the base camp for the people looking to climb the peak is a popular tourist destination. The base camp known as the Annapurna Base Camp or by just its initials the ABC. It is a popular destination for national and international tourists alike. Almost two third of Nepalese trekkers visiting the Annapurna Circuit.
So, these were the eight mountain peaks of the Himalayan range, above the 8000m elevation lying in Nepal. These are the literal jewels or diamonds of Nepal. But these aren’t the only notable himalayan peaks of the country. In addition to these, the Machhapuchhre or Fishtail at 6993m elevation lying in the Annapurna circuits is a famous peak in Nepal. It has never been officially summited. Known for its unique shape with the peak shaped like that of a fish’s tail, the peak is a great view along with the other peaks of the Annapurna Massif, especially from the valley of Pokhara.