There’s a new champion of the world’s highest peaks.
On Thursday morning, Nepali climber Sanu Sherpa reached the summit of 26,362-foot Gasherbrum II in Pakistan, one of 14 mountains on earth above 26,000 feet (or 8,000 meters) elevation. The ascent marked the completion of an incredible feat that makes Sanu the only person to ever ascend all 14 of the 8,000-meter peaks twice.
Sanu, 47, climbed with Nepali guiding company Pioneer Adventure, and he reached the top alongside a Japanese climber named Naoko Watanabe, according to a representative from the guiding firm.
“Today, we write to hail the hero of the Nepalese mountaineering community,” Pioneer Adventure wrote on Instagram. “A tale of Sherpa that shall be sung and recorded in history as a persistent climber with great determination and diligence who pierced through the chilling wind of the mountains to make other fellow climbers’ dreams come true.”
Sanu is a veteran of Himalayan mountaineering, and he has ascended Mount Everest six times. He completed his first ascent of the 8,000-meter peaks in 2019, becoming just the third Nepali to do so, behind Mingma Sherpa and Chhang Dawa Sherpa.
“I simply love climbing. It feels so good to be in the mountains. Climbing peaks is an easy task for me,” Sanu told reporter Dewan Rai of the website Everest Chronicle.
His feats were overshadowed by countryman Nirmal “Nims” Purja, who set a world speed record for climbing the same peaks in 2019, completing the expedition in just six months and six days. Purja completed his record with an all-Nepali crew and used his fame to tout the success of mountaineers from Nepal.
When Everest Chronicle interviewed Sanu earlier this year, he spoke about his youth in Nepal, where he grew up with eight siblings in the Sankhuwasabha district, an area that encompassses 27,838-foot Makalu. Sanu told the site that the family was poor, and he worked as a porter, ferrying supplies for mountaineers and trekkers. He became interested in the outdoor gear used by the climbers.
“I used to stare at good clothes and shoes trekkers would wear. I was more interested in those, not in mountaineering,” he told Everest Chronicle. In 2006 he was selected to lead a Korean expedition on 26,864-foot Cho Oyu, and the climb launched his career in mountaineering. After that he worked as a guide and steadily reached the summit of the highest peaks.
Sanu said that when he completed the summits of all 8,000-foot peaks in 2019, he had already ascended seven of them twice. So he decided to dedicate himself to climbing the remaining seven a second time.
“Climbing all 14 peaks twice was not on my mind until other climbers started suggesting me to do it,” he said.