10 Most Dangerous and Hardest Mountains to Climb in The World
From the safety of the ground, mountains are nothing more than remarkable pieces of nature. But for those who are brave enough to summit the highest peaks and tackle the most technical routes, mountains can kill. As climbers ascend higher and higher, oxygen becomes scarce, storms become enemies, and avalanches become ticking time bombs. But which peaks are known as the most threatening?
We’re going to look at 10 of the most dangerous mountains to climb in the world. Every mountain presents its own range of challenges, but when you’re hanging on a precarious slab of ice thousands of meters off the ground, one wrong move could cost you your life. So, get ready for your adrenaline to spike, and let’s go check out these treacherous mountains.
1. Annapurna I, Nepal
Annapurna stands at an impressive 8,091 meters (or 26,545 feet) in elevation and ranks as the most dangerous mountain to conquer, having a success rate of only 32%, making its fatality rate stand at about 32 deaths out of every 100 successful climbers.
Annapurna is considered by many the top of the list of the most dangerous mountains to climb in the world. As of now, the mountain has about a 30% fatality rate, which means for every three climbers who reach the top and successfully descend, one person dies trying.
Those harrowing odds only attract the most experienced and bravest climbers to take on the challenge.
The mountain sits in the Himalayas of Nepal. You may be surprised to know that despite its high death rate, it’s only the tenth-highest mountain; however, it still stands at a towering 8,091 meters (26,545 feet). The mountain’s steep faces are the cause of life-taking avalanches that can go off at any minute of the climb. Similar to Kangchenjunga, Annapurna’s remote location makes rescue missions highly unlikely, but they have happened.
2. K2, Pakistan-China
K2 is a monster and it’s widely considered the world’s toughest and most dangerous mountain to climb. Located on the border of Pakistan and China, it’s the second highest in the world, standing at a whopping 8,611 meters (28,251 feet)–just around 250 meters shorter than Mount Everest.
Although it might not be the tallest mountain, K2 presents a highly difficult and steep topography that requires every move to be perfect.
The topography also makes the mountain a hotspot for falling rocks and destructive avalanches. In 2008, witnesses believed an ice avalanche caused complications and was responsible for killing eleven mountaineers. The tragedy is known as the 2008 K2 Disaster and is a reminder of the risks associated with attempting to climb K2.
Due to K2’s northern location, troublesome weather rolls in year-round, bringing frigid temperatures, heavy snowfall, and powerful winds. If climbers miscalculate weather conditions or get caught in an unexpected storm, their lives will be in extreme danger.
3. Kangchenjunga, India-Nepal
Over in the Himalayas, along the border of India and Nepal, Kangchenjunga’s frequent avalanches and high death rates (believed to be around 22%) have made it one of the most dangerous mountains to climb in the world. Kangchenjunga is 8,586 meters (28,169 feet) high–the third highest–and is notorious for killing climbers due to oxygen depletion (hypoxia), exposure, falling rocks, and avalanches.
Kangchenjunga has no easy route to reach the summit. Each climber has to methodically come up with a strategy and make tough life-or-death decisions when unfavorable weather blows in. If you are not with a commercial team who is able to properly fix ropes, there may be sections without ropes, meaning one mistake would be fatal.
The remoteness of Kangchenjunga also makes the journey to and from the mountain extremely difficult. If someone experiences an injury on the mountain and manages to get down, they will still have a dangerous, multi-day trek back to safety.
4. Mount Everest, China-Nepal
Perhaps the most notorious mountain of them all, Mount Everest stands 8,849 meters (29,032 feet) high on the Nepal-China border. Everest, the tallest mountain above sea level, is a behemoth that entices climbers from all over the world with its majesty. Sadly, over 300 people have perished while attempting to conquer the mountain.
While some deaths have somewhat foreseeable (albeit unpredictable) causes, avalanches and winter storms only account for about 59% of the deaths on the mountain. The other 41% are a bit less straightforward. Once reaching 8,000 meters, you’re entering Everest’s so-called “Death Zone.” Ninety-four people have died in this zone from much more ambiguous causes; perhaps altitude sickness, frostbite, or hypothermia overtook them. Most of the bodies of the deceased are left on the mountain, so only Everest will know the true cause.
5. Dhaulagiri I, Nepal
The translation of Dhaulagiri means Dazzling Mountain, but don’t let its name fool you. Despite the mountain’s undeniable beauty, it’s known for being a physically and mentally demanding climb that only expert climbers should consider.
Dhaulagiri is another one of Nepal’s famous peaks that’s a part of the Himalayas. At 8,167 meters (26,795 feet), climbers have to deal with a plunge in oxygen levels; however, many traditionalists choose not to bring oxygen tanks along with them. Since the first successful summit in 1960, the total death count averages out to about one per year. Although that may not sound like a shocking amount, there have been less than 500 successful summits.
6. Manaslu, Nepal
On any snowy mountain, avalanches are a risk, but Manaslu is notorious for sweeping climbers right off the mountain. At 8,163 meters (26,781 feet), Manaslu is the eighth-highest mountain, and its exposed faces offer very little protection from raging avalanches. In 2012, a horrific accident occurred when a rush of snow and ice came flowing down the mountain and swept through a camp of tents where around 30 people were sleeping. That single avalanche claimed the lives of eleven climbers and severely injured many more.
Despite Manaslu’s risk of avalanches, 2022 brought in a few hundred climbers. The bigger the crowd, the higher the chances of accidents, and the harder it is for climbing groups to make plans and navigate around each other. Unfortunately, Manaslu took multiple lives that year.
7. Nanga Parbat, Pakistan
Known by locals as “King of the Mountains,” or more forebodingly, “Killer Mountain,” Nanga Parbat is located in the westernmost section of the Himalayas. It’s surrounded by mountains of much lower peaks, making it prone to pummeling wind and extremely variable weather conditions. The southern side of the mountain boasts the Rupal Face, a single 5,000-meter wall of rock and ice–the largest mountain face on Earth.
By the time of the first summit in 1953, Nanga Parbat had already claimed at least 31 lives. Since then, that toll has risen to more than 60 lives lost, with a death rate of over 20%. Changing weather makes the highly technical climb all the more difficult and deadly.
8. Makalu, Nepal
Makalu checks all the boxes as being one of the most dangerous mountains to climb in the world. This Himalayan mountain reaches a height of 8,481 meters (27,825 feet), and climbers have to stomach several exposed ridgelines that could lead to their death. The ascent to the summit is grueling and requires technical climbing abilities. Without the help of sherpas, the death count (which is more than 25 people) would be much higher.
9. Baintha Brakk, Pakistan
Known as “The Ogre,” this foreboding granite tower stands 7,285 meters (23,901 feet) tall in a section of the Karakoram located in Pakistan. While over 20 expeditions have attempted to summit the Ogre, only three have been successful. With harsh base camp conditions, unpredictable storms, sheer granite, and snowy slopes, Baintha Brakk is an extremely hard climb not for the faint of heart.
First summited in 1977, it took over twenty unsuccessful attempts (and 24 years) before it was summited again, and another 11 years between the second and third successes. Broken bones, pneumonia, and altitude sickness are a few of the many catastrophes that have stricken unlucky climbers in their attempts to conquer The Ogre.
10. Siula Grande, Peru
It’s not surprising that many of the most dangerous mountains are located in the Himalayas, but Siula Grande, in the Peruvian Andes, is as unforgiving as any other destination. Siula Grande is only 6,344 meters (20,814 feet), but it has one of the most challenging climbing routes in the world. The mountain became famous when Joe Simpson and Simon Yates became the first people to successfully ascend the West Face, but it nearly cost them their lives.
Simpson experienced a broken leg during the descent and was dropped into a crevasse as Yates was attempting to repel him down to safety. Simon was presumed dead but managed to stay alive and crawl out of the crevasse and back to camp.
Only a handful of other climbers have been able to ascend the West Face due to erratic weather conditions, steep ascents, crevasses, and lack of oxygen.
How Mount Kilimanjaro Stacks Up
So, how does Mount Kilimanjaro compare with the most dangerous mountains in the world? Well, Mount Kilimanjaro is not quite as high as the others, standing at 5,895 meters (19,341 feet). The route to the summit doesn’t require any technical climbing, and if completed in the summer, climbers will enjoy mild to moderate temperatures.
Around 30,000+ people attempt to summit the mountain each year, and only about ten people die. Most of these instances are due to bad planning or going off course. No number of deaths is a positive thing, but your chances of perishing while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro are extremely low.
As long as you pair up with a professional company like Climbing Kilimanjaro, you’ll be under the close surveillance and protection of expert guides. So, whether you’re 20 or 70 years old, Mount Kilimanjaro is the adventure of a lifetime!