April 27, 2023: Dong Hong Juan, a Chinese female climber, has made history by becoming the first woman to reach the true summits of all 14 peaks above 8,000m. Her latest achievement was successfully reaching the top of Mt Shishapangma in Tibet, which stands at 8,027m. Dong repeated several other peaks to reach the real summits, including Mt Manaslu, Mt Dhaulagiri, Broad Peak, Mt Annapurna, and Mt Shishapangma.

This incredible feat has sparked a heated debate within the mountaineering community. While some celebrate Dong’s accomplishment, others question whether previous climbers who fell short of the true summits should still be regarded as having “conquered” the mountain. Some argue that the climbers believed they had reached the highest points, while others believe that true mountaineering requires reaching the summit, no matter how difficult.

Despite the controversy, Dong’s success has surpassed the accomplishments of other notable female climbers. Edurne Pasaban is traditionally recognized as the first female 14×8000’er summiter, and Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner was the first to do all 14 without supplemental oxygen. However, Pasaban and Kaltenbrunner did not reach the true summits of Manaslu and Dhaulagiri, according to Eberhard Jurgalski’s team. Dong’s achievement has therefore set a new standard in mountaineering history.

Three other women were also on the summit of Shishapangma on the same day as Dong’s accomplishment. Kristin Harila and Sophie Lavaud bagged their 13th 8,000’er and were one step away from becoming the first woman to reach the true summits of all 14 peaks above 8,000m themselves. Viridiana Alvarez was also in the group, on her 9th 8,000’er.

Dong’s accomplishment is the result of years of hard work and dedication. She climbed most of the 8000m peaks with Imagine Nepal Treks, a mountaineering company, from 2015 to 2023, according to Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, the Managing Director at Imagine Nepal Treks. Dong’s summit success includes Everest in 2013, Cho Oyu in 2014, Gasherbrum-II in 2014, K2 in 2017, Nanga Parbat in 2017, Gasherbrum-I in 2017, Kanchenjunga in 2018, Lhotse in 2018, Broad Peak in 2018, Annapurna in 2021, Makalu in 2022, Dhaulagiri in 2022, and Manaslu in 2022.

While Dong’s accomplishment is undoubtedly impressive, it remains to be seen how her achievement will be recognized by the mountaineering community. The debate over the definition of a true summit will likely continue, and institutions such as the Himalayan Database are not willing to change history. Nonetheless, Dong’s feat stands as a remarkable milestone in the world of mountaineering, and she is sure to inspire future generations.

Dong Hong Juan