Legendary Italian mountaineer Reinhold Messner holds a multitude of titles. He completed the first solo ascent of Mount Everest and the first ascent of Everest without supplemental oxygen. He most notably holds the record for becoming the first person to summit all 14 8,000 meter peak after reaching the peaks of Lhotse and Makalu in 1986. But some no longer agree that Messner holds such a title, including the Guinness World Records.
According to new research from Eberhard Jurgalski of 8000ers.com, Messner, and many other mountaineers, fell short of the summit by around 15 feet while climbing Annapurna in Nepal. With the help of photos, satellite imagery, and climber descriptions, Jurgalski’s team marked Annapurna’s summit at 26,545ft (8,091 meters). This reclassification, as well as the reclassification of a few other mountains, brought the list of those who’d successfully reached the summit of all 14 from 44 to just four.
A New Record Holder
Following the release of the research results, the Guinness World Records has stripped Messner’s title as the first to summit all 14, handing it instead to Edmund Viesturs of the United States. Viesturs completed the 14 peaks between 1986 and 2005. Messner is now simply listed as a “legacy” record holder.
“Viesturs’ time of 15 years 359 days remained the fastest true-summit ascent of the 8,000ers until it was broken by Nirmal “Nims” Purja in 2021. (Viesturs’ record is still the fastest without supplementary oxygen.) Nims made his true ascents between 23 April 2019 and 8 October 2021 – a time of 2 years 168 days. Bottled oxygen was used.” – Guinness World Records
Messner’s accomplishment should not be understated despite this new information. Jurgalski himself has noted displeasure with the new discovery, claiming that he cried when he found out that Swiss climber Erhard Loretan missed the summit of Dhaulagiri by about 140 meters. Additionally, he pointed out that Messner opened up seven new routes on the 8,000 meter peaks, and stated that the 13 summits of Messner, Loretta, and Jerzy Kukuczka were worth more than Ed Viesturs 14 due to the difficulty of their routes.
“If someone wasn’t on the summit, then he just wasn’t at the top. It’s like 1 plus 1 equals 2. For example, would a pop star who has landed 13 number one hits and one at number two be credited with having been at the top of the charts 14 times?” – Eberhard Jurgalski
Messner himself is clearly quite upset by the change, making several statements on his social media. At one point, he appeared to claim that Jurgalski was attempting to make himself important with the use of Messner’s name.
“Last statement about records in alpinism! There are none! There will never be any in traditional alpinism! I appreciate every alpinist, every alpinist who make their experiences on the big walls of this world. That’s what it’s all about life.I am and remain the conqueror of the useless but I have gained so much in my life that I can proudly say today I am a happy man!” – Reinhold Messner