STATEMENT FROM THE UIAA MOUNTAINEERING COMMISSION
The generally accepted 14 x 8000 metre peaks have an iconic historical value that in many ways transcends mountaineering as they have entered a more universal culture.
When Reinhold Messner completed the 14 x 8000 metre peaks in 1986 he was lauded for that fact but perhaps even more so for the manner in which he had accomplished this extraordinary feat before many others even considered it possible. No oxygen, often solo and frequently by climbing a new route. He has been recognised for this in various ways, not least by the awarding of UIAA Honorary Membership.
His feat deserves all the recognition that has been given to him despite two of his achievements recently being stripped by Guinness World Records. To now assert that his accomplishments are any less laudable or that he did not complete all 14 climbs is unfair and unreasonable, especially given what is understood as being the main summit of certain 8000m peaks may have changed in the subsequent decades.
Messner himself has said that he did not do it to set a record but for the sake of alpinism:
‘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!’
The UIAA rejects this attempt to alter mountaineering history and expresses its overwhelming support for Reinhold Messner and the other pioneering mountaineers who have seen their considerable achievements questioned.
Main photo: Reinhold Messner, Everest summit (1978). Photo credit: Reinhold Messner