Kristin Harila and Tenjin Lama Sherpa have finally done it.
Tenjin Lama Sherpa and Norwegian athlete Kristin Harila have claimed a monumental feat: The fastest time to summit all 14 peaks over 8,000 m.
Harila and Lama claimed a “True Summit World Record,” as Harila called it, of 92 days for summiting all of the world’s tallest mountains, including Mount Everest, K2, and Annapurna. They reached the summit of the final mountain (K2) at about 10:45 a.m. Thursday.
A post on Harila’s website Thursday included an audio statement giving Lama his due.
“I would never, ever have made it without him,” she said. “He’s the reason we made it … He’s always taking care of me.”
It’s a stunning achievement for Harila, who summited 12 of the 14 peaks last year over several months. But the Chinese government denied her requests for the final two mountains: Shishapangma and Cho Oyu.
So, she started all over again this year — and managed to pull it off. Ultimately, she has climbed 26 8,000m peaks in just 2 years.
What’s the Right Way to Climb a Mountain?
However, not everyone is happy about Harila’s journey. The world of alpinism has grown increasingly concerned with the methods used in the high mountains — and Harila’s new record is no exception.
Mingma G, a sherpa well-known for his alpine prowess, criticized Harila’s ascent of Manaslu, the world’s eighth-highest mountain, ExplorersWeb reported. While tackling the mountain in June, Harila’s team relied on helicopters to stock camps on the mountain prior to her ascent. In general, the use of helicopters has drawn ire from alpinists for several reasons, from environmental issues to undercutting the traditional approaches managed by sherpas.
“They had three shuttles to Camp 2 and one to Camp 1 yesterday,” Mingma G. told ExplorersWeb last month. “This will ruin the image of the Himalaya and the prestige of the sherpa. I won’t be surprised if they make the summit tomorrow.”
Harila’s record knocks about 3 months off the record of Nirmal “Nims” Purja, whose team of sherpas finished ascending all 14 peaks in 2019. The feat was given a feature-length documentary on Netflix called “14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible.”
However, Purja’s record was also scrutinized by some alpinists, partly over questions about him reaching the true summit of Manaslu and Dhaulagiri, ExplorersWeb reported in 2021. To further complicate the climbing records, both Harila and Purja’s teams relied on bottled oxygen to various degrees, as well as support from sherpas.
The circuit of the world’s highest 14 peaks, all located in either the Himalayas or the Karakorum, was first completed in 1986 by Reinhold Messner, who needed many years to complete it. However, Messner also refused to use oxygen during any of those ascents.
Yet, even Messner isn’t immune to questions of climbing ethics, as a researcher claimed last year that only three climbers have reached the true summit of Manaslu — Messner wasn’t one of them.
However, among these three mountaineers — Harila, Purja, and Messner — there seems to be little animosity. Messner didn’t knock down Purja’s accomplishment in the Netflix documentary, and Purja left a note on Harila’s Instagram announcement of the new record.
“Congratulations to you and @mantralama,” he wrote.