5 Hardest Mountains To Climb: A Climber’s Guide

5 Hardest Mountains To Climb: A Climber’s Guide

Which is the hardest mountain to climb? Let’s set out to reveal what makes a mountain expedition risky. Is it Mount Everest, which claims lives nearly every year? Or could it be the medium-sized Matterhorn in the Alps? We decided to discover what makes climbing a mountain so difficult and risky. 

It is unnecessary to say that both mountaineering and mountain climbing are innately risky and need a huge amount of training, technical mountaineering skills, mountaineering gear, mountaineering experience and complicated route finding skills. A sad but true fact of climbing is that wounds and mortality are on a noticeable rise and have consumed the news headlines just as the achievement stories. 

But it is also true that the number of people arriving at the world summit is noticeably more than those who pass away trying. In the pursuit to answer this query, we counted on statistics enveloping fatalities as these are more exclusively recorded than wounds and experiences, which frequently go unpublicized. 

California has some extraordinary 14ers that climbers have sought after time and again. Here are some of the most sought-after 14ers and peaks by climbers around the world: Mount Washington, Mont Blanc, Mount Whitney, Mount Wilson, Mount McKinley, Mount Vinson, White Mountain, Baintha Brakk, Dave green in North America, Pyramid Peak, Mount Fitz Roy, Mount Williamson, Long’s peak in Rocky mountain national park is one of the most difficult 14er, Capitol Peak, 14er Mount Shasta, Mount Tyndall, Mount Sill, 14er Mount Langley, Mount Russell, Mount Muir, Mount Kenya, Mount Brandon, Mount Cook, Split Mountain, Tray Mountain, Blood mountain, Bote mountain, Summit Monolith, The north summit

Among these Appalachian trails in Georgia is one of the most difficult trails to conquer.

Death is the most unfortunate and a fine barometer of danger if we discuss all the difficult climbs and climbing probabilities with difficult hiking trails. It’s an undeniable fact that very few are aware of how dangerous these mountaineering expeditions can be. Regardless of how much outdoor gear or necessary mountaineering techniques you know, being a mountaineer will keep you in the mouth of danger at any time.

Injury may happen even at fairly harmless roadside crags. Yet unquestionable mountains call on regard from even the most skilful climbers. 

#1 Annapurna, Nepal

Annapurna, Nepal

The Himalayas, North–Central Nepal

Elevation: 8091 m (26, 545 ft)

The Guinness World Records claims Annapurna I as one of the most dangerous mountains in the world. Since its first ascent on the 1950 expedition led by Maurice Herzog, Annapurna Massif in Nepal has been climbed by more than 300 people. Annapurna has the highest mortality rate of 73 people. It’s the highest and the most dangerous mountain in the world, with panoramic views and an extremely challenging hike. 

Situated in North–Central Nepal, it holds six major peaks within the Area: Annapurna I, II, III, IV, Annapurna South, and Gangapurna. Annapurna is the riskiest of all the 8,000- meter peaks. It is widely considered the deadliest mountain on Earth and is known for its frequent and sudden avalanches and its toughest trails. If you have planned to trek at the Annapurna circuit, you must prepare yourself with training and tolerance as it is not a trip for hikers at a beginner's level.

But the untrained hikers should climb less dangerous peaks within the Annapurna Conservation Area, heading to the Mardi Himal Base Camp or towards the teahouses in Nepal, the Khopra Ridge.

Fatality Rate

How dangerous is an expedition to Annapurna? There have been less than 200 successful summits of the mountain. But 61 people have lost their lives on this mountain, offering Annapurna a fatality rate of about 32 %. 

That is to say, for every three people reaching the peak season, one person collapses. If you are into mountaineering or reading about the same, you’ll be aware that most people collapse on their way down. 

Most people think of the epic summit as the terminus, where you receive your trophy and start enjoying beautiful views, but it is just midway. If you have completed your toughest climb, you've only completed a summit and can come down and share your story.

For numerous smaller mountains, help while hiking is always at hand. But for giant and remote, difficult hiking adventures like Annapurna I, you’ll be vulnerable and distant from help while on the expedition. So, death on Annapurna I while on the way down is almost inevitable. 

The tales do a gruesome reading. Team-mates collapsing helplessly, avalanches wiping out climbing parties. It might sound like a death wish to anyone climbing an 8000m mountain. The factors responsible for rough, bad weather are oxygen deficiency, exhaustion, late ascents, and not turning back at the cut-off time.

It’s easy to pass comments and say it was a mistake for those who even thought of attempting the summit. But you can’t help but wonder if you would’ve done the same if in their shoes. 

Especially with the much money and energy required to attempt the actual summit. Along with the fundamental human coping mechanism of always imagining those bad things will happen to someone else.

Could Anyone Make It?

The answer is yes. There are some successful summits in Annapurna’s morbid record. The survival ratio is 3: 1, so the number of people surviving is higher.

#2 K2, China And Pakistan

China And Pakistan

Karakoram range, China –Pakistan

Elevation: 8,611m (28,251 ft)

K2, the world’s second-highest mountain, is renowned among hikers as one of the world’s most technically difficult mountains and difficult hikes to climb with its extremely cold temperatures. This pyramid-shaped mountain hike is the greatest challenging day hike to overcome for even highly professional mountaineers.  

Climbing even the easiest technical route includes:

  • Crossing a challenging glacier.

  • Ascending steep sections of loose rock.

  • Working out a path around a sequence of ice –pillars called seracs, which are vulnerable to falling without warning. 

The technical difficulty of this mountain constructs it as one of the most difficult trails in the world. Viridinia Alvarewz Chavez was declared the first Latina to climb K2 in 2020, announcing her reach even after observing a fellow hiker collapsing to death. 

In 2008, the world witnessed the worst fatality; 11 climbers died attempting to climb K2 complex routes. Mountaineers and hikers risk avalanches, snowstorms, disputes, and a curse when they try to climb this mountain. 

A current K2 documentary is worth watching, showcasing a group of hikers attempting to summit K2 without supplemental oxygen. Where Everest usually has more than 500 successful epic summits in any year, there is a high probability that K2 might not have anyone reaching the top in years.

Having an altitude of 28,251 feet, K2 is often known as the “Mountaineer’s Mountain”. The snow-laden mountain advances from its base at about 15,000 feet (4,570 meters) of the Godwin Austen Glacier, a tributary of Baltoro Glacier. Its steep slopes require brilliant technical rock climbing skills. 

But as one in four hikers who attempt to climb collapse in the journey, K2 has registered itself in the black book of “Savage Mountain”. In 1902, the very first attempt was made to reach the actual summit by an Anglo-Swiss expedition.

Fatality Rate

According to NASA, the percentage of climbers collapsing in their attempt to climb K2 is around 25%. 

There have been 91 deaths during attempted climbs. The mountain is such a rough and unwelcoming spot that its climbing routes have always been avoided during winter. 

There have been lesser deaths on K2 when compared to Mount Everest. The number of those killed to the number of people who have attempted climbing K2 is significantly higher. 

Because the weather and challenging route conditions are notoriously fickle on K2, climbers must be prepared to take advantage of a brief period of good weather and altitude sickness. 2018 show that more than one in five expeditions suffered a fatality.

Could Anyone Make It?

The Pakistan Alpine Club Secretary Karrar Haidari, in February 2021, stated that only 377 people have successfully reached the epic summit. 

#3 Nanga Parbat

Himalayas, Pakistan

Elevation: 8,126m (26,660 ft)

Rating the ninth tallest mountain in the world, Nanga Parbat in Pakistan, contesting with K2 on the grounds of technical skills and difficulty. The path to the first ascent comes after a narrow ridge to the epic summit. 

On the southern side is the largest mountain face on Earth, the 15,090-foot Rupal Face. 

The British Alpine Climber Albert F.Mummery was the first to climb the snow-covered glacier in 1895, but unfortunately, he died while attempting. The name “Nanga Parbat” has been obtained from Sanskrit “Naked Mountain”, and its range is popularly known as Diamir, “king of the mountains”. Though the hikers have a different name for it, “The Man-Eater”.

Fatality Rate

Similar to the K2, there are still no records of any expedition during the winters in the Nanga Parbat’s multiple climbers have died attempting. The fatality rate hit more than 22 percent. 

Nanga Parbat is also known as “Killer Mountain” because, in 1953, a minimum of 31 people died attempting to climb it before its first ascent. According to NASA, as of March 2012, a fatality rate of about 20% is recorded. 

The Austrian climber Hermann Buhl July 1953, became the first to have the skills to reach the summit and complete the actual summit. He did it alone, without supplemental oxygen, food, a tent, or even a sleeping bag. 

Before him, 31 people collapsed. Mike Searle, a University of Oxford geologist, stated that Nanga Parbat is the fastest rising of all the mountains in the world.

Could Anyone Make It?

Since 1988, more than 30 different expeditions comprising some of the world's most experienced climbers and alpinists have attempted and failed. The honors of first reaching the mountain peak go to Gerlina Kaltenbrunner, Austrian mountain climber, one of the world’s “eight-thousanders”. She is the first woman to complete without using supplemental oxygen-breathing apparatus.

#4 Kanchenjunga, India And Nepal

Kanchenjunga, India And Nepal

Nepal/India

Elevation : 8.568m (28,169 ft)

Situated along the border of Nepal and India and was once assumed as the world’s highest mountain until 1852. The calculations by the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India in 1849 proved that Mount Everest, also named Peak XV, was the most difficult climb of all the ranges. 

It was formally announced that Kanchenjunga was recorded as the third tallest mountain in the world at 28,169 feet. The mountain is famous for its ever-changing unpredictable weather. One can even face altitude sickness due to many such reasons. Extreme temperatures and frequent avalanches all go hand in hand to make this range one of the toughest and deadliest for expeditions in the world. 

Kanchenjunga is made of rocks of the Neoproterozoic to Ordovician period. It receives heavy snowfall during the summer monsoon season and comparatively lighter snowfall in the winters.

It connects the neighboring mountain peaks by four main ridges, through which four chief glaciers flow – the Talung(southeast), the Zemu(northwest), the Yalung(southwest), and the Kanchenjunga(northwest). Its name has come from four words of Tibetan origin, Usually known as Kang-Chen-dzo-Nga or Yang-chhen-dzo-nga, and in Sikkim, it is referred to as the “Five Treasuries of The Great Snow”.

The locals of the surrounding Indian and Nepal territories report watching a mysterious creature roaming around the steppes of Kanchenjunga. A two-footed creature was once seen during the British Expedition in the 1925s, which was mentioned as the mountain demon. People have a common belief that gods live in these iconic mountains. The tale of the valley of immortality is another well-known legendary story associated with the difficult hikes. 

Fatality Rate

Fatality Rate

If we look at the fatality rates of Kanchenjunga, we’ll see a considerable decrease in it. Death rates are estimated at over 20 percent, meaning one of every five hikers dies trying to reach the actual summit due to the avalanche and climate hazards that affect these mountain ranges. A Bavarian expedition led by Paul Bauer in 1929 and 1931 was unsuccessful, and again in 1930, Gunter O. Dyhrenfurth attempted to climb from the same glacier. Fatal outcomes during these two expeditions gave quite a dangerous reputation to this mountain.

Could Anyone Make It?

Kanchenjunga was first explored on 25 May 1855 by Joe Brown and George Band, who were members of the 1955 British Kanchenjunga expedition. Briton Ginette Harrison was one of the first women to reach the peak in 1983 and the first to ascend without supplemental oxygen.

 Any expedition in the Kanchenjunga usually lasts nearly ten weeks. Likely you have the advantage of keeping records of the changing and unpredictable bad weather conditions. Before starting an expedition, make sure you are prepared for heavy avalanches or snowstorms, as during the summer monsoon season, one is often faced with heavy snowfall. Comparatively, during the winters, the snowfall is not that burdensome. However, the climate at Kanchenjunga is ever-changing.     

#5 The Eiger

The Eiger

Canton of Bern, Switzerland

Elevation: 3,967m (13,015ft)

This range is one of the largest Alpine climbs in Europe. It has a popular north face strenuous route- But it is extremely dangerous. The north face of this peak is legendary amongst mountaineers for its hazardous nature. Extending to a height of 6000 ft, it claims to be the longest face in the Alps. The troubled climbing and hazards have earned Eiger’s north face the name” Mordwand or Murder Wall”.

 The mountain was popularized in the film The Eager in 1975; Clint Eastwood plays the part of a guilty man who joins a climbing tree on the Eiger’s peaks to avenge his companion’s killing. It is one of the world’s most popular iconic peaks. It is situated above the small villages of Switzerland.

 The Eiger is worth climbing by any of its various difficult route for beginners, which are not easy to climb. The successful ascent of the Mittellegi Route, which is of historical importance, is classified by its engaging climbing. The nearest mountain hut from Eiger is Mittellegi – Biwak, located 1476m/4842ft away.

Fatality Rate

The Eager is notorious for tragedies amongst climbers. The mountain has claimed the lives of a minimum of 64 climbers since 1935. An Austrian German expedition first climbed it. 

Could Anyone Make It?

Could Anyone Make It?

The range being reachable by all means, it has been explored and reached by many skilful climbers. 

A railway tunnel runs through the mountain, and anyone travelling through the train can enjoy the spectacular view from the windows carved within the loose rock faces. They are fragments of the Jungfrau Railway line, running from Kleine Scheidegg to the Jungfraujoch.  

Previously the majority of the attempts failed hopelessly during its initiation. The Bernese officials even restricted climbing it and warned of charging fines to anyone attempting to reach it. 

Climbers who tried to climb through the North face were watched through a telescope from the Kleine Scheidegg. After World WarII, there was an effort to climb the range twice in 1947 by Louis Lachenal and Lionel Terray, and the initiative was taken by a Swiss party composed of H. Germann, along with Hans and Karl Schulunegger.

Final Words

Final Words

Now that you have read the article, you know all the five hardest mountains you can climb. It usually is a common human trait to desire the unattainable, so the more challenging climb of the mountain range gets, the more one desires to climb it. 

However, by now, you must be aware that by complexities, one does not necessarily mean the mountain’s altitude. A few mountains might not be so high but are dangerous and troublesome to the actual summit. 

Different factors determine the challenges while climbing, extending from the path you are exploring to the current bad weather; it all conspired together.

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