Sanu Sherpa creates mountaineering history; completes double ascent of 14 peaks

Nepali mountaineer Sanu Sherpa has created history by summiting the world’s 14 highest peaks above 8,000m twice, a feat never achieved before. 

“Sanu, along with Japanese climber Naoko Watanabe, reached the summit of Gasherbrum II Thursday morning at 8 am local time,” said Nivesh Karki, General Manager of Pioneer Adventure, his expedition organizer. 

Born in Shankhuwasabha in a poor family, he never had any aspirations for world record. He started out as a porter to earn money for his family. “I used to stare at good clothes and shoes trekkers would wear. I was  more interested in those, not in mountaineering,” he said as he recalled running around half naked in the village in his childhood. 

Growing up with nine siblings in a poor family in the mountain region was tough. He got married in his teen. “Little did I know about marriage and responsibility, until I had a child myself. But I did not know what to do for living,” he said. 

He arrived Kathmandu in search for a job in 2005. With the help of his community, he got his first job as a porter. He travelled to different places from from east to west of the country while in this job. 

The following year, he got a surprising offer of leading a Korean team to Cho Oyu (8,188m). He never had any experience of mountaineering before. The expedition organizer told him that he could do it. 

“I was confused. But there were two more Korean teams who would accompany us. So, I thought I could climb with them,” he said. 

Ever since his first climb, he is hooked. “I find peace of mind in the mountain,” he said.

His passion for climbing drove him to lead expedition teams on to the world’s highest peaks. He has been in guiding for little over two decades now.

Although he did not start out deliberately as a mountain climber, he says that he fell in love with climbing. “I simply love climbing. It feels so good to be in the mountain. Climbing peak is an easy task for me,” he said.

Sanu himself never thought about setting any record when he started career in mountaineering in 2006. Sanu completed the summit of all 14 of the 8,000-meter peaks for the first time in 2019. Two siblings Mingma Sherpa and Chhang Dawa Sherpa had completed the summit of all 14 peaks in 2011 and 2013. Sanu was the third Nepali to summit 14 peaks.

Nirmal Purja aka Nimsdai entered the 14 peaks club right after him with a record time of completing all in 6 months 6 days. Mingma Gyabu Sherpa also completed 14 peaks with Nimsdai. By then, Sanu had climbed seven 8,000-meter peaks twice. Sanu has climbed Everest 6 times. “Climbing all 14 peaks twice was not on my mind until other climbers started suggesting me to do it,” he recalled. 

So it was only in 2019 that Sanu started planning his mountain climbing with the record in mind. While the covid pandemic put a halt on his mission in 2020, he is back at it from 2021. “I am not sure if I should be climbing more mountains after this. I don’t have any plan for the future just yet, ” said the 47-year-old climber.

Sanu finished summit of all 14 of the 8,000-meter peaks for the first time in 2019. “I had also already climbed seven 8,000 meter peaks twice then,” he told Everest Chronicle in an interview before heading out for Lhotse. “Climbing all 14 peaks twice was not on my mind until other climbers started suggesting me to do it.”

Covid 19 pandemic delayed his mission to climb all 14 highest peaks twice. He had completed the first round of his 14 peaks ascent in 2019 once he climbed Mount Makalu. He had to wait for two more years to start his mission again.

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