Feature: How China's Dong Hongjuan Became First Woman to Scale All 14 Peaks Above 8,000m

 May 5, 2023
Feature: How China's Dong Hongjuan Became First Woman to Scale All 14 Peaks Above 8,000m
Dong Hongjuan climbing Mount Shishapangma [Photo provided by Dong Hongjuan's team]


Chinese mountaineer Dong Hongjuan has become the first woman to conquer all 14 peaks above 8,000 meters on earth.

LHASA, May 4 (Xinhua) — For any elite mountaineer, reaching the summits of the world's 14 independent mountains above 8,000 meters once is already a daunting challenge.

But for China's Dong Hongjuan, the first woman to conquer all 14 peaks situated 8,000 meters above sea level, scaling each one only once might not be enough.

Dong, 42, successfully ascended to the summit of the 8,027-meter Mount Shishapangma on April 26, with her feat later confirmed by the international mountaineering summit website 8000ers.com.

"It was a historical day for the mountaineers and mountain lovers, who care about true summits. Now Dong Hongjuan is the first woman to have ascended all true summits of the 14 8000ers," read an article on the site's front page.

The 8000ers.com, operated by mountaineers, collects summit information of the world's 14 mountains over 8,000 meters, and its confirmation is widely recognized in the international mountaineering community.

Dong reached the summit of Mt. Qomolangma in 2013, completed Cho Oyu and Gasherbrum II in 2014, Qogir (K2), Nanga Parbat and Gasherbrum I in 2017, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse and Broad in 2018, Annapurna in 2021, and Makalu, Dhaulagiri and Manaslu in 2022.

The international mountaineering community considers it an achievement to reach the summits of the 14 independent mountains above 8,000 meters, all of which are located in the Himalayas and Karakoram.

On April 29, Dong attended a celebration dinner hosted by the Tibet Autonomous Region Mountaineering Association in Lhasa, with ultraviolet burns on her face, and sat down for an exclusive interview with Xinhua News Agency.

Feature: How China's Dong Hongjuan Became First Woman to Scale All 14 Peaks Above 8,000m
Dong stands on the summit of the 8,027-meter Mount Shishapangma. [Photo provided by Dong Hongjuan's team]



Located in Nyalam County under Xigaze, Shishapangma is the 14th highest peak in the world and the only eight-thousander situated entirely within China.

Dong had surmounted Mt. Shishapangma in 2018, but later discovered she had only reached the central peak, while the true summit certified by 8000ers.com is the mountain's eastern peak.

"There are only 14 mountains above 8,000 meters, but she climbed them 19 times," said Tsering Samdrup, Chairman of Tibet Mountaineering Association.

To meet the website's requirements, Dong was obliged to re-climb Manaslu, Broad, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Shishapangma.

In 2015, after Dong surmounted Annapurna, considered the toughest among the 14 8000ers by her team, it was getting late.

Even worse, they had run out of replenishment including oxygen, food and water. They had to spend the night at an altitude of more than 7,000 meters.

"The only thought in my mind was that if I could make it back to Beijing, I would definitely spend a week in a hot spring," Dong recalled.

After returning home, she spent a month in a wheelchair for frostbite treatment. Every few days, doctors had to scrape rotten flesh off her toes along with fresh flesh before changing dressings.

"It was really painful. But at that time I thought that even if I had to endure an amputation, I would still have finished the toughest mountain," she said.

However, it soon emerged that the summit of Annapurna she had reached in 2015 was not confirmed by the website. It was not until six years later that she tried again.

Feature: How China's Dong Hongjuan Became First Woman to Scale All 14 Peaks Above 8,000m
Dong with her teammates before ascending Mount Shishapangma [Photo provided by Dong Hongjuan's team]   



"I never conquered those mountains. It is the mountains that accepted me," Dong said. "We are nothing against nature. When the weather changes, as a climber, I could be easily destroyed."

Dong said she first started climbing simply out of curiosity. "I was curious about what it would be like above 5,000 meters, then 6,000 meters, then 7,000 meters."

When she climbed Manaslu in 2012, the words of famous Chinese mountaineer Yang Chunfeng impressed her greatly.

"Whether a country is truly great or not depends on women's power. I hope you can stick to it," Yang had said to Dong.

"After I learned about the achievement of reaching the summits of the 14 independent mountains above 8,000 meters, I swore to myself that I would put a Chinese name on it," she said.

Dong trained six times a week over the past 10 years and seldom allowed herself to be interrupted. "Once you are in danger, your strength can protect yourself."

Last year, when Dong surmounted Manaslu again, she thought there was only one mountain, Mount Shishapangma, left. But 8000ers.com told her she also had to re-climb Dhaulagiri.

"I cried for three days. I suddenly felt it was endless," Dong recalled. But after collecting herself, she packed up her luggage, retook Dhaulagiri and had her efforts confirmed.

"Dong Hongjuan has already corrected all her false summits and needs only Shishapangma to be the first woman on all Main-8000ers," updated 8000ers.com soon after.

Feature: How China's Dong Hongjuan Became First Woman to Scale All 14 Peaks Above 8,000m
Dong shows her certificate of having surmounted Mount Shishapangma successfully. [Xinhua/Sun Fei]



"You tell me where the true summit is. If I reach the wrong one, I re-climb. I just want to be an honest climber."

Dong has kept a low profile during her ten years of climbing, and rarely issues statements when ascending.

But when she successfully ascended to the summit of Shishapangma last week, she said to the camera: "This honor belongs to my motherland. I love you China!"

"I just want to do something for my country," she said, unable to hold back tears.

Her daughter has been her strongest supporter all those years. Once her daughter was asked where her mother was, the little girl replied "my mother went to climb Anna."

"She had no clue of where and what Anna is. But she was proud of me," Dong said.

Dong did not talk much at her celebratory banquet. Most of the time she was sitting by the table, enjoying the peace after the successful summit.

"I have nothing to brag about. I couldn't make it by myself, and I always believe that," she said.


(Source: Xinhua)


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