In 1986, Reinhold Messner achieved something that no one in the world had ever done before: he climbed all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks without bottled oxygen. In 1970 he climbed Nanga Parbat in the Western Himalayas, the first mountain in this category, and 16 years later he secured the world record on Lhotse – which he has now lost again.

As the Guinness Book of Records announces on its website, Messner will be stripped of the record of being the first person to climb all 8,000-meter peaks. “It is assumed that at least three of the 14 peaks have not been correctly identified for many years, which has resulted in mountaineers – mostly through no fault of their own – stopping short of the summit,” says the publisher’s statement.

The background is a question of definition. The summit is the highest point of a mountain that can be reached on foot. The Austrian mountain chronicler Eberhard Jurgalski spent more than ten years researching exactly where these points are – and he discovered that the summit of some eight-thousanders had been underestimated for years. Starting next year, the Guinness Book of World Records will follow a new policy based on the findings published by Jurgalski in July.

Reinhold Messner and Hans Kammerlander also ended their ascent of Annapurna – at 8,091 meters the tenth highest mountain in the world – too early. 65 meters from the point that, according to today’s calculations, is considered the summit. Technically speaking, Messner has only climbed 13 of the 14 eight-thousanders, meaning he loses his world record. His successor is the American Edmund Viesturs, who carried out expeditions to the highest mountains on earth between 1989 and 2015 – and, according to today’s standards, reached all the peaks.

Craig Glenday, editor-in-chief of the Guinness Book of World Records, said the new guidelines should “in no way diminish the incredible pioneering achievements achieved by some of the greatest mountaineers over the last 50 years.” However, similar to a marathon, you have to insist that the full distance is covered.

The Austrian Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner is also affected by the change. To date, she has held the title of the first woman to climb all eight-thousanders. But she also loses this prestigious world record. Reinhold Messner, who turns 79 this year, holds several other records: for example, he was the first person to climb Mount Everest – the highest mountain on earth – without additional oxygen.

Sources: Guinness World Records /