Best Mountaineers of All Time

Mountaineering (or alpinism) is the sport of mountain climbing.

The question here is: Who are the best mountaineers in history? Of course, teamwork is essential in climbing and many would argue that because of this there is no such thing as "the best" in this sport. But it is hard to deny that there are some individuals that simply rise above the others, that are brave enough to try new possibilities, that push the boundaries enough to leave a permanent mark in the sport. This list is for them.
The Top Ten
1 Jerzy Kukuczka

Jerzy Kukuczka was a Polish alpine and high-altitude climber, widely considered among the climbing community to be one of the best high-altitude climbers in history. On September 18, 1987, he became the second man to climb all 14 eight-thousanders, 13 of them without the use of supplemental oxygen, a feat he achieved in just 7 years, 11 months, and 14 days. He climbed 4 eight-thousanders in winter, including 3 for the first time, and 2 in only one season (the only person so far to do so).

Kukuczka established new routes on 10 eight-thousanders (a still unbeaten record), including one on K2 in alpine style (the so-called "Polish Line" or "Suicidal route") which no one has ever repeated.

2 Reinhold Messner

Simply the best of all time. The first to ascend all 8000m peaks, to do the unimaginable without oxygen. Equipment and training then is not what it is today. He was in a class of his own and did things then that even the best climbers don't do now while using superior equipment and having access to better and more modern training. Someone like this only comes around every thousand years, I suspect.

Reinhold Messner is an Italian mountaineer, adventurer, explorer, and author. He made the first ascent of Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen (along with Peter Habeler) and was the first climber to ascend all 14 eight-thousanders.

3 Alex Lowe
4 Simone Moro
5 Hermann Buhl

Hermann Buhl was an Austrian mountaineer, considered one of the best climbers of all time. He was particularly innovative in applying alpine style to Himalayan climbing. He was the first person to ascend Nanga Parbat (solo and without bottled oxygen) and Broad Peak, both eight-thousanders.

Against all odds, all rules, a true legend!

6 Ed Viesturs

Edmund Viesturs is a high-altitude mountaineer and corporate speaker. He is the only American to have climbed all 14 eight-thousanders, and the fifth person to do so without using supplemental oxygen. He has summited peaks of over 8,000 meters on 21 occasions, including Mount Everest seven times.

Great climber for many reasons. I like his risk management the best.

7 Kurt Diemberger
8 Juanito Oiarzabal

Juan Eusebio Oiarzabal Urteaga is a Spanish Basque mountaineer. He was the sixth man to reach all 14 eight-thousander summits, and the third one in reaching them without supplementary oxygen. He was the first person to conquer the top three summits twice, and has summited eight-thousanders 25 times.

9 Sir Edmund Hillary

It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.

10 Anatoli Boukreev

Even Ed Viesturs regards him as one of the strongest endurance climbers. He died tragically early. His ascent record of Denali, in around 10 hours, demonstrates his astounding abilities.

The Contenders
11 Walter Bonatti
12 Krzysztof Wielicki
13 Wanda Rutkiewicz
14 Tenzing Norgay
15 Tomaž Humar

One of the best mountain climbers ever. Not only in my country but in the whole world.

16 George Mallory

He is my great-great-grandfather, so my opinion is biased, but he was a great mountaineer.

17 Ueli Steck
18 Carlos Carsolio

Several records, new routes, and also the second youngest alpinist to conquer the 14 highest peaks in the world without supplemental oxygen.

19 Denis Urubko
20 Erhard Loretan
21 Daniele Nardi
22 Alexander Huber
23 Paul Preuss
24 Scott Fischer
25 Jean Troillet
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