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Most Challenging Mountains to Climb in the World

Malvika Kulur
Climbing some of the world's tallest mountains is not a feat for all, as there is a lot of mental and physical preparation required for it. This piece lists out the most challenging mountains to climb in the world, exclusively for all adventure and travel enthusiasts.
The word 'mountain' paints a very rosy picture in everyone's mind. We envision a beautiful, tall, green, or snowy peak, cutting through the clouds, but these amazing structures can be very challenging and dangerous to climb. Factors like terrain, climate, location, etc., play a big role in setting the difficulty level for attempting the climb up a mountain.
Making an attempt to scale some of the world's highest summits is not a feat for those who do not have the discipline and willpower to train for years on end. Climbing a mountain, especially one that has a reputation of being dangerous, takes endeavor, courage, and years of training.
Given below is a list of some of the world's deadliest and most challenging mountains to climb, along with the names of some notable mountaineers who conquered these high peaks.

The Deadly 13

Mount Everest

Nepal Tingri County, Tibet Autonomous Region

8,848 m

Risk Factors
Avalanches, ice collapsing, exposure to extreme cold and wind.
Mount Everest is Earth's highest peak. It has been regarded as one of the most dangerous and difficult peaks to climb, with the death toll of climbers at approximately 200 deaths.
The causes of death include avalanches, injury from falling or ice collapsing, exposure, or health problems related to the conditions on Mount Everest. It is a challenge to climb this peak due to its height, the weather conditions, the terrain, and the route taken.
There are two routes used to climb the Everest - the southeast ridge from Nepal, and the north ridge from Tibet. Technically, the southeast ridge is considered the easier route, but avalanches, seracs, crevasses, and shifting blocks of ice make this route very dangerous and challenging.
The first successful expedition of Mount Everest was done by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa on 29th May, 1953.

Annapurna I

North-central Nepal

8,091 m

Risk Factors
Big ice cliffs and seracs.
Annapurna I was the first peak over 8,000 m to be scaled, and this feat was accomplished on 3rd June, 1950, by Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal. The first ascent of Annapurna I is of great historic significance in the world of mountaineering, as this climb was done in one season, without the use of oxygen cylinders.
According to recent statistics published by The Economist, Annapurna I is the deadliest summit in the world. The death ratio of the mountaineers who have tried climbing this peak is 34% as compared to Mount Everest, where the ratio dips to 4%.
The main reason why Annapurna I is a very challenging climb is its glacial architecture. The routes to this peak have big ice cliffs and seracs, making it the most dangerous and challenging peak in the world to climb.
The main reason why Annapurna I is a very challenging climb is its glacial architecture. The routes to this peak have big ice cliffs and seracs, making it the most dangerous and challenging peak in the world to climb.

Baintha Brakk

Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

7,285 m

Risk Factors
Granite tower-shaped peak,high altitude, steepness.
Baintha Brakk, also known as 'The Ogre', is a monster of a mountain. It has a reputation for being one of the toughest mountains to ascend, as it is a lethal combination of high altitude, steepness, and its height above local terrain.
A striking feature about this mountain is its complex granite tower-shaped peak, which seems almost impossible to climb. The first ascent of this peak was made by Doug Scott and Chris Bonington on the 13th of July, 1977. 24 years later, the second ascent was made by Urs Stöcker, Iwan Wolf, and Thomas Huber, on 21st July, 2001.
Recently, on September 7th, 2012, Kyle Dempster and Hayden Kennedy, from the US, successfully summited the peak's south face. Owing to the difficulty in climbing this deadly peak, only skilled mountaineers with years of training and experience should make an attempt to climb it.

The Eiger

Canton of Bern, Switzerland

3,970 m

Risk Factors
Avalanches, crumbling rocks, diminishing ice fields.
The Eiger is the most visible massif of the Bernese Alps. Scaling the north face of this mountain is the difficult part, because of the risk of avalanches, crumbling rocks, and diminishing ice fields. Climbers prefer climbing this mountain during the winters because the freezing of the ice strengthens the crumbling rock on the north face.
Since 1935, approximately 64 mountaineers have died attempting to climb the north face of the mountain. Due to this, the north face is called 'Mordwand' in German, which means 'murderous wall'. The first ascent was made on 11th August, 1858, by Charles Barrington and his two guides, Christian Almer and Peter Bohren.


Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, Xinjiang, China

8,611 m

Risk Factors
Glaciers, steep sections of rocks, seracs.
K2 also goes by the name Mt. Godwin-Austin, and is regarded as one of the most technically difficult peaks to scale. It is the world's second-highest peak, and is deathly dangerous, as even the simplest route taken requires crossing a glacier, steep sections of rocks, and seracs (which have a tendency to collapse any time).
Apart from its frozen composition, unpredictable weather also poses a great threat to mountaineers ascending this mountain. The mortality rate of this peak is similar to that of Annapurna. The first ascent was made by Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli on the 31st July, 1954.

Monte Fitz Roy

Argentina-Chile Border

3,359 m

Risk Factors
Granite faces, unpredictable weather, isolated location.
Monte Fitz Roy is also called Cerro Chaltén, Cerro Fitz Roy, and Mount Fitz Roy. Even though this mountain is nearly one-third the height of Everest, it is very hard to climb because of its technical difficulties, like granite faces, isolated location, and unpredictable weather.
Even the most skillful mountaineers find this mountain challenging. Climbing this summit requires a great deal of experience and training. The route that is used the most for ascending this deadly mountain is the Franco-Argentina route.
Its first ascent was made in 1952, by Lionel Terray and Guido Magnone. On an average, this mountain sees a successful ascent only once a year.


International border between India and Nepal

8,586 m

Risk Factors
Mudslides, avalanches, almost vertical peak.
Kanchenjunga is the highest peak in India, and is worshiped as a holy mountain by the people in Sikkim and Darjeeling. It poses to be a challenging climb due to its almost vertical peak. Descending the summit is difficult, and this feat has claimed many lives.
Other factors, such as the risk of avalanches and mudslides, are also to be considered while talking about the dangers regarding the climbing of this peak. The fatality ratio has gone up to approximately 22% in recent years. The first ascent of Kanchenjunga was by Joe Brown and George Band on 25th May, 1955.


Nepal (Khumbu), China (Tibet Autonomous Region)

8,516 m

Risk Factors
Tremendous south face, uneven terrain,snow, steep slopes.
Lhotse, compared to the other eight-thousanders, has the smallest topographic prominence value. It's rise is only 610 m above the South Col. Even though the prominence of this peak is small, it has a tremendous south face. In fact, the south face of this mountain is the steepest mountain face of its size in the world.
Climbing this peak is a challenge on account of steep slopes, uneven terrain, snow, altitude level, etc. Mountaineers have to usually traverse through snow, ice, and glaciers to get to the top. The first ascent of this peak was done by Fritz Luchsinger and Ernst Reiss, on May 18th, 1956.


Pennine Alps on the border between Switzerland and Italy

4,478 m

Risk Factors
Shape of peak, steep faces, no landing area, unpredictable weather.
Matterhorn is a pyramid-shaped peak, that has four faces, facing the four compass points. It is a great tourist spot, due to its location in the Alps on the border of Switzerland and Italy. The number of deaths recorded on this peak is as high as 500. What makes this mountain a very challenging climb is that its faces are very steep.
Skilled rock climbers can scale the nearly vertical faces, but the danger levels increase if bad weather hits, as this mountain has no escape hatch or landing area to wait out unforeseen bad weather.
The first ascent was made on July 14th, 1865, by Edward Whymper, Charles Hudson, Francis Douglas, Douglas Robert Hadow, Michel Croz, Peter Taugwalder (father), and Peter Taugwalder (son).

Mount McKinley

Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska, Alaska, US

6,194 m

Risk Factors
Altitude, glaciers, climate, avalanches.
Mount McKinley is the highest mountain in North America, and is a favorite among aspiring high altitude mountaineers. The mountain is said to be dangerous due to its location, its elevation, and also the fact that it has the greatest relief, rising approximately 18,000 ft above its surrounding plain.
This mountain has five glaciers - the Peters Glacier, Muldrow Glacier, Traleika Glacier, Ruth Glacier, and the Kahiltna Glacier, that flow off the slopes of this mountain, making this mountain difficult to climb. Adding to the glaciers are avalanches, and extremely cold weather which makes Mount McKinley a truly challenging peak to summit.
The West Buttress Route is the one that is mostly used while climbing this mountain. Its first ascent was made on June 7th, 1913, by Hudson Stuck, Harry Karstens, Walter Harper, and Robert Tatum.

Nanga Parbat

Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

8,126 m

Risk Factors
Tremendous vertical relief.
Nanga Parbat has been given various cognomens, like Killer Mountain, Murder Mountain, the Maneater, and Mountain of the Devil, as the death toll of this mountain is very high. The most notable feature of this mountain, that also makes it so difficult to climb, is that it has a tremendous vertical relief in all directions.
The Rupal face of Nanga Parbat is referred to as the highest mountain face in the world. Scaling this mountain is difficult because Nanga Parbat is an enormous ridge made up of ice and rocks. The first successful ascent of this mountain was made by Hermann Buhl on 3rd July, 1953.

Mont Blanc

The Alps on the Italy-France border

4,810 m

Risk Factors
Frequent rock-falls, altitude sickness, glaciers, ice.
Mont Blanc is western Europe's highest mountain, and is considered as one of the most dangerous mountains in Europe. With up to 40% of its total area being covered by glaciers, this mountain is one of its kind in the world. Mont Blanc earned its notoriety as one of the deadliest mountains to climb because it has the highest fatality rate in Europe.
Even though it is a challenging climb due to factors like glaciers, ice, altitude sickness, rough terrain, etc., over 20,000 tourists attempt to climb this peak every year.
The most popular route taken for ascending this mountain is Voie Des Cristalliers, which is also known as Voie Royale, and it is considered to be dangerous because of frequent rock-falls. The first ascent was made on 8th August, 1786, by Jacques Balmat and Michel-Gabriel Paccard.

Ultar Sar

Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

7,388 m

Risk Factors
Avalanche risks, strong winds, unpredictable weather.
Ultar Sar is considered as one of the most unclimbable peaks in the world. It is a challenging climb due to the mountain's technical difficulties like avalanche risks, strong winds, and unpredictable weather.
Over 15 expeditions have been made to conquer this peak, but all have been unsuccessful. The easiest route used to climb this mountain is via Bathbakor Base Camp. There are only two successful summits to this peak recorded. The first was in 1996, by Akito Yamazaki and Kiyoshi Matsuoka from Japan, where Yamazaki died during their decent from the peak.
The notable feature of their achievement was they ascended the peak in alpine style, which is carrying all the food, shelter, and other equipment along with them. Most of the climbing was done at night to avoid the risk of getting injured from falling ice or rock.
The second was also in 1996, by Ken Takahashi, Masayuki Ando, Ryushi Hoshino, Wataru Saito, and Nobuo Tsutsumi. Since then there has been no record of anyone successfully summiting this peak.

Honorable Mentions

Name - Location

Dhaulagiri - Nepal
Trango Tower -  Pakistan
Makalu  - Nepal-China border
Gasherbrum IV - Pakistan
Granite Peak -  USA
Mount Pomiu -  South East China
Mount Logan - Canada
Huascarán - Peru
Mount Saint Elias  - Canada-US border

Name - Location

Mount Thor -  Canada
Cerro Torre  - South America
Moose's Tooth - USA
Nuptse  - Nepal
Latok  - Pakistan
Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end. ― Edward Whymper, Scrambles Amongst the Alps