|Full name||Alan Charles Hinkes OBE|
Teacher Geography and PE
26 April 1954|
Northallerton, Yorkshire, England
Mount Everest 1996|
Nanga Parbat 1998
All 14 8,000m Peaks
(Cho Oyu is disputed)
Eiger North Face.
|Children||Fiona Horgan (b. 1984)|
Alan Hinkes OBE (born 26 April 1954) is an English Himalayan high-altitude mountaineer from Northallerton in North Yorkshire. He is the first, and remains the only, British mountaineer to claim all 14 Himalayan eight-thousanders (mountains above 8,000m in height), which he did on the 30 May 2005.
Hinkes is the first British mountaineer to claim to have summited all 14 mountains in the world with elevations greater than 8,000 meters, known as the eight-thousanders, when he summited Kangchenjunga on the 30 May 2005, aged 50 years and 34 days.
No other British mountaineer has yet claimed this. It was first achieved by Reinhold Messner in 1986 (all without oxygen), and two decades later, Hinkes was only the 13th person to have claimed the feat, days after U.S. climber Ed Viesturs became the 12th person on 22 May 2005.
It is an uncommon feat, as the ratio of deaths to summits on several eight-thousanders is at one-in-five (Annapurna, K2, Nanga Parbat, Kangchenjunga). This should not be interpreted as meaning that a "death-rate" is circa 20%, as the statistic ignores the number of attempts (and also partial attempts, and/or route stocking activity etc.). However, given that climbing the eight-thousanders requires multiple failed attempts (Hinkes took two attempts on average), and the most failures are usually on the most dangerous mountains, the risk of death in attempting all 14 eight-thousanders is material.
Hinkes took 26 attempts to climb the 14 eight-thousanders (not counting his ascent of Shishapangma Central (West) in 1990), giving a first attempt success rate of circa 54%. Hinkes spent 21 years on his "Challenge 8000", starting with his ascent of Shishapangma in September 1987, and ending with his ascent of Kangchenjunga in May 2005. Hinkes is recorded as summiting Mount Everest on 19 May 1996.
He regards K2 as the hardest eight-thousander mountain ("an easy place to die"), which he climbed on his third attempt (he abandoned his first attempt, when closing in on the summit, to rescue a stricken Swedish climber). He ranks Kanchenjunga as the second hardest eight-thousander mountain, which he also climbed on his third attempt.
As an eight-thousander climber, Hinkes has encountered death on his own expeditions, and on neighbouring expeditions. Several of his climbing partners subsequently died on mountains. A particular death that Hinkes notes was fellow U.K. climbing partner, Alison Hargreaves, who died on K2 in 1995, weeks after Hinkes had summited K2.
Hinkes had to be air rescued from Nanga Parbat in July 1997 when flour from a burnt chapati got up his nose, making him sneeze so violently that he prolapsed a disc. He had to wait 10 days in agony before being rescued and brought to Islamabad for treatment. He has been referred to as the "chapati man" (even by himself) from this incident.
Hinkes has climbed eight-thousanders in many styles: expeditions (Cho Oyu, Manaslu, Nanga Parbat), two-man alpine (Makalu, Dhaulagiri) and alone (Gasherbrum I, Gasherbrum II), and permutations in between. He has climbed new lines (Shishapangma, Kangchenjunga, Annapurna), he has climbed as guide (Broad Peak), as camera man (Everest), and set speed records (Annapurna). He has climbed several on first attempt, others on third (Nanga Parbat) and fourth attempt (Makalu). He has climbed with well-known mountaineers, including several expeditions with Doug Scott and Chris Bonington.
He describes himself as risk-adverse ("I climb to live, not to die", "The summit is optional, getting down is mandatory"), who places value on understanding, and being in the right position, to capitalise on breaks in weather. His later climbs were mostly two-man climbs with experienced sherpas (Pasang Gelu), where Hinkes could stay in control of events and react quickly. He was not averse to leveraging the resources of bigger expeditions alongside. Unusually for a 20-year high-altitude Himalayan eight-thousander, he has never lost any fingers or toes (or "other bits" as he describes it), to frostbite.
Over the years, Hinkes has had public fall-outs with other chasers of the 14 eight-thousanders. Australian climber Andrew Lock (who completed all 14 in 2009), was critical of Hinkes on their successful 1998 ascent of Nanga Parbat. Spanish climber Iñaki Ochoa de Olza, (who died on Annapurna of pulmonary edema, after completing 12 eight thousanders without oxygen), alleges that Hinkes had left him to bleed to death in order to summit K2, which Hinkes countered was factually untrue (Hinkes abandoned his first K2 climb, despite nearing the summit, to successfully rescue a stricken Swedish climber).
Cho Oyu dispute
His 1990 ascent of Cho Oyu, which he completed alone in low visibility, is disputed by some observers. Cho Oyu has a broadly flat summit plateau with no cairn (the traditional prayer flags on Cho Oyu's summit plateau do not mark the "technical" summit). Instead, the summit is a small unmarked "hump" (or "bump") (which many Cho Oyu YouTube summit videos miss). While the height differential of this hump is small, the issue is non-trivial, as it is acknowledged that from reaching the summit plateau, it can take another 30 mins, according to Ralf Dujmovits (3-time Cho Oyu summiter), for a strong climber to get to the "hump" area.
The source of the issue was that Himalayan chronicler Elizabeth Hawley, whose "Himalayan Database" is used by online databases like AdventureStats, "unrecognised" his Cho Oyu ascent in 2005 (15 years after summiting). Hawley based her decision on an interview with Hinkes, and on other team members. Hawley agrees Hinkes reached the summit plateau (as does Eberhard Jurgalski's list), but questions how Hinkes could have been on the “technical” summit for certain, if he could not see it.
But his claim to have now climbed all 8000ers is open to question. In April 1990 he and others reached the summit plateau of Cho Oyu. It was misty so they could not see well; nine years later Hinkes said he had “wandered around for a while” in the summit area but could see very little and eventually descended to join the others, one of whom said they had not reached the top.
Hinkes logged the expedition's 1990 Cho Oyu ascent in the 1991 American Alpine Journal (AAJ), as well as the expedition's ascent of Shishapangma 12 days later, but he notes they climbed Shishapangma's central (west) summit (the true summit is circa two hours further on). Hawley's biography notes French expedition leader Benoît Chamoux was very unhappy with this, as she did not credit Chamoux with Shishapangma either (Hawley had compelled the famous Himalayan mountaineer Ed Viesturs to re-climb Shishapangma for the same reason, which he did). Hinkes would never climb with Benoît Chamoux, or any of the French team members, ever again.
Hawley seems to dismiss the public accounts of all the non-French team members. Czech team member Josef Rakoncaj, photographed Hinkes on the summit plateau of Cho Oyu (Hinkes with his usual photo of his daughter held out), and states Hinkes summited in his book "Na hrotech zeměkoule" (co-authored with Miloš Jasanský, 1993). Josef Rakoncaj's Cho Oyu account is discussed on the Czech-language Alan Hinkes Wikipedia article. Italian team member Mauro Rossi also lists the 1990 ascent of Cho Oyu in his public resume. More recently, climbers with multiple Cho Oyu ascents, have begun to dispute Hawley's main Cho Oyu summit criteria, "Did you see Everest?" (which is obviously unhelpful in Hinkes' case given the poor visibility), and the incorrect behaviors it is creating.
Hawley's "Himalayan Database" records 3,681 ascents of Cho Oyu from 1954–2017, of which only 18 are "unrecognised" (since 1960), despite the acknowledged difficulty of finding Cho Oyu’s "technical" summit (even in clear weather), and an understanding that many older expeditions considered the summit plateau as sufficient. Benoit Chamoux's 1990 Cho Oyu expedition compromise 7 of these "unrecognised" ascents (including Alan Hinkes), while a German commercial trekking expedition, led by Günther Härter, who summited Cho Oyu just 19 days after Chamoux in 1990 (and also in very low visibility, as very honestly recorded by the Germans), compromise another 6.
The dispute is noted in many Hinkes interviews. He highlights the lack of any evidence, or publicly verifiable sources, for the allegation, and he is supported by the Alpine Journal, and the BMC. Hinkes says he spent "at least an hour and a half" criss-crossing the flat summit plateau, alone, until he "was sure there was no more uphill". Hawley's "Seasonal Stories" suggest an aversion to Hinkes, and her biography lists Alan Hinkes as a climber "she did not like".
I spent at least an hour and a half covering every inch of ground on the summit plateau until, in the end, I was absolutely certain that I could not get any higher. There was no more uphill.
AdventureStats.com record 8,000m ascents not independently verified. Their website ("Verifications and Disputes") states that unless given written proof otherwise, "No proof other than the explorer's word is required", implying they give credit to Hawley's unverified allegations. It contrasts, for example, with Hawley, AdventureStats, and Eberhard Jurgalski's, acceptance of Denis Urubko's acclaimed 2009 ascent of Cho Oyu's Southeast face (and his 14th official eight-thousander), who reached the Cho Oyu summit plateau in the dark and in a snowstorm (see his summit photo from his AAJ log), (ascent number 2785 on Hawley's Himalayan Database).
The paragraph in Elizabeth Hawley's 2005 "Seasonal Stories" remains the only publicly verifiable source of the dispute over Hinkes' Cho Oyu ascent. No climbing journal disputes Hinkes' ascent, and some publicly support it. However, Hawley retains a well-earned stature as a Himalayan chronicler, and her "Himalayan Database" is the source for most online Himalayan ascent databases. Her passing in 2018 means that Hawley's Cho Oyu dispute will likely remain forever unresolved.
In January 2006, after Kangchenjunga, Hinkes was awarded an OBE in the 2006 New Year Honours List for his achievements in mountaineering. He was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the University of Sunderland in 1999, and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of York in 2007. He was awarded Yorkshire Man of the Year in 2005, and was made an honorary citizen of his hometown Northallerton in the same year.
Hinkes is an avid photographer and released a photographic essay book in October 2013 called "8000 Metres Climbing the World's Highest Mountains". He is the subject of an October 2017 documentary by filmmaker, Terry Abraham, "Alan Hinkes: The First Briton To Climb The World's Highest Mountains". Hinkes has frequently appeared on U.K. television over the years, particularly regarding Himalayan events/stories, including BBC News, Sky News, Newsnight etc.
Hinkes started life as a geography and PE teacher, which he abandoned to concentrate on climbing. He never married but has a daughter, Fiona, whose picture (with her son, Jay), Hinkes displays in most summit photographs.
8,000 metre climbs
This list includes all 27 successful and unsuccessful 8,000 metre expeditions, as also noted by Alan Hinkes in his book, but reconciled from several other published climbing journal articles (and also using the American Alpine Journal online database):
- May 1984 – Mount Everest – Failed on North (Tibetan) side of mountain (first attempt) with Cumbrian Everest Expedition.
- 19 September 1987 – Shishapangma – Climbed new route on Central Couloir North Face, with U.S. climber Steve Untch, two person alpine-style.
- October 1987 - Lhotse - Failed on South Face, alpine style, with polish climber Krzysztof Wielicki in storms.
- October 1988 - Makalu - Failed with Rick Allen / Doug Scott in alpine-style climb, due to injury and evacuation of Rick Allen.
- 12 May 1989 – Manaslu – Climbed South Face/Pillar with Benoît Chamoux French expedition, first British ascent.
- 30 April 1990 – Cho Oyu – Climbed (disputed) West Face with Benoît Chamoux French expedition, but solo to find summit alone as team separated at summit plateau.
- 12 May 1990 – Shishapangma – Climbed Central (West) Summit, with Benoît Chamoux French expedition, on new route in North Face Couloir.
- May 1991 – Mount Everest – Failed on North (Tibetan) side of mountain (second attempt).
- 16 July 1991 – Broad Peak – Climbed as guide for Jagged Globe expeditions.
- August 1992 – Nanga Parbat – Failed on Mazeno Ridge and Schell Route with Doug Scott expedition (first attempt).
- August 1993 – K2 – Failed on South East Ridge Abruzzi Spur (first attempt), abandoned climb to conduct rescue of Swedish climber.
- August 1994 – K2 – Failed on North Face (China side) in Anglo-American expedition due to avalanche risk (second attempt).
- April 1995 – Makalu – Failed due to accident on route to mountain, leg pierced by bamboo stick and evacuated to Bangkok (second attempt).
- 17 July 1995 – K2 – Climbed South East Ridge Abruzzi Spur (on third attempt). Was climbing with Alison Hargreaves on U.S. expedition.
- 19 May 1996 – Mount Everest – Climbed North Ridge (Mallory Route), filming for the TV documentary Summit Fever (third attempt).
- 10 July 1996 – Gasherbrum I – Climbed alone and unsupported.
- 29 July 1996 – Gasherbrum II – Climbed South Face alone and unsupported.
- 23 May 1997 – Lhotse – Climbed South West Face Couloir mostly alone, but encountered other groups (second attempt).
- May 1997 – Makalu – Failed with Fabrizio Zangrilli, abandoned when weather turned and Fabrizio Zangrilli was injured (third attempt).
- 22 July 1997 – Nanga Parbat – Forced to abort attempt after sneezing on chapati flour resulted in a prolapsed disc in his back (second attempt).
- 21 July 1998 – Nanga Parbat – Climbed Kinshofer Route on Diamir Face on Italian expedition (incl. Kurt Diemberger) (third attempt).
- 23 May 1999 – Makalu – Climbed with alpine-style two man ascent with sherpa Dawa Chirring (fourth attempt).
- May 2000 – Kangchenjunga – Failed because of bad weather conditions, broke arm on descent when snow bridge collapsed (first attempt).
- 6 May 2002 – Annapurna – Climbed new North Face route, first British ascent for 32 years, and set new speed record.
- April 2003 – Kangchenjunga – Failed due to poor weather and SARS-like virus (second attempt).
- 17 May 2004 – Dhaulagiri – Climbed in two-man alpine ascent with Pasang Gelu.
- 30 May 2005 – Kangchenjunga – Climbed new line on South West Face, in two-man ascent with Pasang Gelu, summiting on 30 May 2005 (third attempt).
Other notable ascents
- 1988 Menlungtse West (23,041 ft / 7,023m) FA via West Ridge. Summit attained with Andy Fanshawe (UK), with Chris Bonington (UK), David Breashears and Steve Shea (both USA) in support.
- Terry Abraham (Director) (2017). Alan Hinkes: The First Briton To Climb The World's Highest Mountains (DVD).
- Terry Abraham (Director) (2014). Life of a Mountain: A Year on Scafell Pike (DVD).
- Hinkes, Alan (2013). 8000 METRES Climbing the World's highest mountains. Cicerone Press. ISBN 978-1852845483.
- List of 20th-century summiters of Mount Everest
- eight-thousanders details of all 8000m mountains and key ascents
- "British Mountaineer and Everest summiter: ALAN HINKES ENTERS THE RECORD BOOKS AS THE FIRST BRITON EVER TO CLIMB THE WORLD'S 14 HIGHEST PEAKS". Everestnews.com. June 2005.
- "Climber enters the record books". BBC News. 2 June 2005.
- BMC Chief Executive, Dave Turnbull said: "Alan's ascent of all 14 of the worlds 8000 metre peaks is an outstanding achievement and a milestone in British mountaineering history."Alan Hinkes completes his 8000m quest". British Mountaineering Council. 2 June 2005.
- Hinkes climbs Kanchenjunga: 1st Briton to climb all 8,000m peaks. As the Alpine Journal was going to print, Alan Hinkes became the first Briton to climb all 14 of the world’s mountains over 8,000m with his timely ascent of Kanchenjunga on 30th May 2005. Congratulations, Alan "1st Briton to climb all 8,000m peaks" (PDF). Alpine Journal. June 2005.
- "Alan Hinkes climbs world's 14 highest peaks!". planetmountain.com. 5 June 2005.
- "Briton on top of the world nears mountaineering history". The Independent. 16 May 2005.
- "Stairway to heaven". The Economist. 29 May 2013. Retrieved 2015-09-07As of March 2012
- "ALL 8000ers – ASCENTS vs FATALITIES". 8000ers.com. 2008.
- "TO THE TOP OF THE WORLD (AND BACK)". Living North. June 2014.
- "No way would I ever do K2 again, K2 is the gold medal, it's an easy place to die". The Daily Mail. 16 October 2010.
- "Kangchenjunga Jubilee 1955–2005" (PDF). Apline Journal. 2005.
- "Challenge 8000 ALAN HINKES" (PDF). Alpine Journal. 1998.
- "How a young life ended on killer mountain". The Independent. 18 August 1995.
- "Uphill battle for lone Briton". The Guardian. 4 April 1999.
- "Climb every mountain". The Guardian. 5 June 2005.
- "Highs and lows of extreme altitude mountaineering". UKClimbing.com. 23 October 2005.
- Bonington, Chris (1989). "Menlungtse Western Summit". Himalayan Journal. Mumbai, India: The Himalayan Club. 45 (89).
- "8000 Metres: Climbing the world's highest mountains (Appendix 3)". Cicero Press. 1995.
- "Alan Hinkes Interview: The Legendary Mountaineer on Everest, OBEs & How He Invented the Selfie". Mpora. 4 April 2017.
- Lock doesn’t have much to say about Hinkes now, other than to say the Briton’s claim to have climbed the full compliment of 8000ers has been widely disputed."Aiming High with Andrew Lock" (PDF). Outer Edge. April 2009.
- Hinkes revealed that the Spaniard was not "bleeding to death", but had a broken arm, had a team around him, and that the incident happened much lower at 21,000 ft, and that Hinkes was acclimatising and not summiting."Injured Spaniard accuses British climber of 'filming me, then leaving me to die'". The Telegraph. 30 May 2004.
- Miss Hawley uses the “did you see Everest” as her standard question, I have mentioned this to her as well. I have summitted Cho Oyu 4 times and will be heading for my fifth this coming season. Each time I have watched the Koreans and Japanese go only to where they can see Everest, not the summit, because they know this is what will be asked."Cho Oyu summit: Where is it exactly". Explorersweb.com. September 2017.
- Many people who climb Cho Oyu in Tibet stop at a set of prayer flags with views of Everest and believe they’ve reached the top, unaware they still have to walk for 15 minutes across the summit plateau until they can see the Gokyo Lakes in Nepal."When is a summit not a summit?". Mark Horrell. 12 November 2014.
- When he got there in 1990 the visibility was poor. The European climbers he was with had turned back, but Hinkes deemed conditions “not as bad as I have experienced on many winter hills in the Scottish Highlands” and pushed on alone. Finding nothing to indicate a summit, Hinkes writes, “I spent at least an hour and a half covering every inch of ground on the summit plateau until, in the end, I was absolutely certain that I could not get any higher. There was no more uphill.”"Roger Cox: Alan Hinkes on climbing the world's highest mountains". The Scotsman. 9 November 2013.
- "On the Summit of Cho Oyu". youtube.com. 2010.
- "Cho-Oyu Mountain Summit Flat Peak". youtube.com. 2010.
- "The Himalayan Database, The Expedition Archives of Elizabeth Hawley". Elizabeth Hawley/Richard Salisbury. 2018.
- "Seasonal Stories for the Nepalese Himalaya 1985–2014" (PDF). Liz Hawley. 2014. p. 347.
- "Oh's 14 8,000m peaks, true or false?". British Mountaineering Council. 29 April 2010.
- "Climbers with 10 to 14 MAIN 8000ers". 8000ers.com (Eberhard Jurgalski). 2011.
- Cho Oyu and Shisha Pangma Central (West) Summit. Our expedition was composed of leader Benoît Chamoux, Frédéric Valet, Yves Detry, Pierre Royer, French, Mauro Rossi, Italian, Josef Rokoncaj, Czechoslovakian and me, British. All seven climbers were together on the summit of Cho Oyu on April 30 and twelve days later, on May 12, were all on the top of the central (not the highest) summit of Shisha Pangma. [To have reached the main summit via the connecting ridge would have required another two hours. — Editor AAJ.] Alan Hinkes, Alpine Climbing Group"Asia, Tibet, Cho Oyu and Shisha Pangma Central (West) Summit". American Alpine Journal. 1991.
- "Keeper of the Mountains: The Elizabeth Hawley Story". Rocky Mountain Books. 5 October 2012. pp. 185–195.
- "Himalayan History of Mr. Josef Rakoncaj". SirJoseph (Josef Rakoncaj's clothing company). 2018.
- "Mauro Rossi – Mountain Guide – Post 1 – 2011". Mauro Rossi. March 2016.
- "Günther Härter climbing history". Top Mountain Tours. 2018.
- "Asia, Tibet, Cho Oyu". American Alpine Journal. 1991.
- "Mountaineer Alan Hinkes: K2 'nearly as impressive as Roseberry Topping'". grough magazine. 26 July 2013.
- "Fame is a four letter word". British Mountaineering Council. 22 August 2005.
- "Hinkes climbs final 8,000'ander". Climbing. 14 June 2005.
- ‘If they can find someone who was actually on the summit waiting for me, and I never turned up, fair enough. If not, what right do they have to say I wasn’t there? Who even disputed it to begin with? I’ve never heard anyone explicitly come out and say, “I’m the one who doesn’t believe you.”"TO THE TOP OF THE WORLD (AND BACK)". Living North. June 2014.
- But on the topic of Alan Hinkes, she became critical. She was convinced he was opportunistic, that he timed his climbs so that other teams on the mountain had already set up the fixed ropes. He would then show up with a Sherpa and off he would go. And Chamoux - she saw him as a tragic figure."Keeper of the Mountains: The Elizabeth Hawley Story". Rocky Mountain Books. 5 October 2012. p. 191.
- But there were others she decidedly did not like, and these she sent Heather to interview. British climber Alan Hinkes was one of them. As Heather explained "There is only a certain amount of arrogance any one can tolerate, because she's seen it all."Keeper of the Mountains: The Elizabeth Hawley Story". Rocky Mountain Books. 5 October 2012. p. 205.
- The Explorer is believed to be telling the truth. It is considered a point of honor which most explorers hold higher than the success of the expedition., No proof other than the explorer's word is required (2018). "AdventureStats Verifications and Disputes". AdventureStats.com.
- "Climbers that have summited 10 to 13 of the 14 Main-8000ers". AdventureStats.com. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
- "Climbers who have ascended to the summits of all of the world's 14 mountains over 8000 metres". 8000ers.com (Eberhard Jurgalski). 2018.
- "A Bold New Route on the Southeast Face of Cho Oyu in Nepal". American Alpine Journal. 2010.
- "Alan Hinkes receives OBE". British Mountaineering Council. 23 February 2006.
- "Yorkshire Man of the Year 1999–2017". Yorkshire Awards. 2018.
- "Home town honours record climber". BBC. 18 August 2005. Retrieved 13 May 2008.
- "The North Side of K2" (PDF). Alpine Journal. 1995.
- "Another Pilgrim for Nanga Parbat" (PDF). Alpine Journal. 2000.
- "Fourth Time Lucky on Makalu" (PDF). Alpine Journal. June 2000.
- Nyka, Jozef (1988). "Shisha Pangma and Kukuczka's 14th 8000er". American Alpine Journal. New York, NY USA: American Alpine Club. 30 (62): 280. ISBN 0-930410-33-5.
- Bonington, Chris (1989). "Menlungtse Western Summit". American Alpine Journal. New York, NY USA: American Alpine Club. 31 (63): 284–286. ISBN 0-930410-39-4.