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Readers note: This is an excerpt from the Trailblazers: Australia’s 50 Greatest Explorers exhibition, developed in 2015. This content was written as a brief biography on why this person was included in the exhibition.

Andrew Lock is the first Australian to successfully climb all 14 of the world’s 8000-metre peaks, including four that he has summited twice. Born 26 December 1961, 24 years would pass before Lock entertained the thought of climbing an 8000-metre peak. He was working as a policeman in Wagga Wagga (NSW) in 1985 when mountaineer Greg Mortimer came to town to present a slide show about the first Australian ascent of Mount Everest.

“Those images of massive exposure, bitter cold, objective dangers – of human fortitude against the elements in the toughest environment conceivable – drew me like a magnet and I decided on the spot that I must experience all that myself.”


First Australian to climb all 14 "eight-thousanders".

Image: Andrew Lock
© Australian Geographic Society Promo /Andrew Lock

To climb Everest, Lock had to first aim for shorter-term, more achievable goals. Over the next nine years, he learned to climb rocks then mountains at gradually higher altitudes until he was ready to enter ‘the death zone’ above 8000 metres.

As Lock would show time and again over the next two decades, it wasn’t just about reaching the top. “Outdoor adventure has always been about taking on challenges where the outcome is uncertain. Because if it’s guaranteed, then for me there’s no point in doing it.”

For Lock this meant climbing without oxygen, often by a difficult route. His first ‘eight-thousander’ was K2, the world’s second-highest peak and arguably one of the most dangerous. Of the six climbers who summited the same day as Lock, three died on the descent.

Lock’s ascents of 8000-metre peaks make for an outstanding record of achievement. Some he tackled solo or alpine style; others, as expedition leader; and in some years, he ascended more than one peak:

  • K2 (1993)
  • Dhaulagari and Broad Peak (1997)
  • Nanga Parbat (1998)
  • Hidden Peak/Gasherbrum I and Gasherbrum II (1999)
  • Everest (2000 & 2004)
  • Manaslu and Lhotse (2002)
  • Shishapangma Central (2003 & 2005)
  • Cho Oyu (2004 & 2005)
  • Kanchenjunga (2006)
  • Annapurna (2007)
  • Makalu (2008)
  • Shishapangma Main Summit (2009).

Andrew Lock was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2011 for service to mountaineering.

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