Environment

10 Of The World's Deadliest Mountains

Although the highest number of lives were lost on Mount Everest, some other mountains have a higher death rate than Mount Everest.

Mountains have always fascinated people. Many have attempted to “conquer” massive heights by climbing to the summit of the world’s highest mountains. Not all mountains have, however, been kind to all the climbers. Over the years, many of those attempting to summit these mountains have lost their lives to avalanches, falls, exposure, high altitude sickness, violent storms, and other causes. Below is a list of mountains where most climbers have lost their lives. The ranking is, however, based on the number of deaths and not on the actual deaths per safe returns ratio.

Deadliest Mountains By Number Of Deaths During Ascent/Descent

Mount Everest

Part of the Greater Himalayas and located on the Nepal-China border, the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest, has claimed more lives than any other mountain in the world. As of 2012, 165 people have died ascending Mount Everest and 58 people have died while descending it. Overall, 5656 people have completed a journey to the peak of the mountain and back to the starting point. Avalanches have been responsible for the most deaths. Fall injuries, serac collapses, exposure to the harsh weather conditions, frostbite, and other high-altitude health issues have also killed many. The upper reaches of the 8848-meter-tall Mount Everest are in the "death zone" meaning the air here is too thin for climbers to receive sufficient oxygen for breathing. Most people use oxygen cylinders for breathing in the death zone.

Mount K2

As of 2012, 50 and 31 deaths occurred during ascent and descent on Mount K2, respectively. This 8,611 meters tall mountain is located on the China-Pakistan border and is part of the Karakoram Mountain Range. Despite its lower number of deaths than Mount Everest, many claim that Mount K2 is more dangerous than Everest. In fact, only 306 successful attempts have happened on the mountain as of 2012. The death rate on K2 is 29 deaths per 100 safe returns, the second highest death rate after Mount Annapurna.

Several factors contribute to the unsafe conditions on K2. The harsh weather combined with a lack of oxygen at the upper reaches of the mountain often kills climbers. The mountain is also prone to sudden storms. Storms can last for days and are difficult to predict beforehand. Such storms have killed many climbers on K2 in the past. The third most dangerous part about this mountain is its steep, exposed slopes. There is hardly any “easy” route to the summit of K2. All approaches to the summit are laden with dangers. Lethal falls are common on the mountain.

Mount Dhaulagiri

Mount Dhaulagiri in Nepal has an elevation of 8,167 meters, making it the world’s seventh tallest mountain. However, it is the third most deadly mountain in the world in terms of the number of deaths recorded on it. 61 deaths during ascent and 8 deaths during descent have been recorded on the mountain as of 2012. 408 successful ascents have also been recorded on the mountain. Avalanches are the single main cause of deaths on Dhaulagiri. Major avalanches on the mountain occurred in 1969, 1975, 1978, 1989, and 2010 and resulted in the deaths of many climbers. Altitude sickness and falls also claimed several lives.

Nanga Parbat

The world’s ninth tallest mountain, the 8,126 meters tall Nanga Parbat, is part of the Himalayas and located in Pakistan. The mountain is infamous for its notoriously tricky climb. It has a death rate of 21 per 100 safe returns, the third highest in the world. It has earned the nickname of “killer mountain” for this reason. As of 2012, only 335 successful summits have happened on Nanga Parbat. However, 61 deaths during ascent and seven deaths during descent also occurred. 

Avalanches are the most significant natural cause of death on this mountain. Exposure to the extreme environment of the high massif also claimed some lives. Interestingly, a human-made reason claimed the lives of many climbers on the Nanga Parbat in 2013. On June 23 of this year, extremist militants wearing Gilgit Scouts uniforms shot down ten climbers from foreign countries in the Base Camp of Nanga Parbat.

Mount Manaslu

The world’s eighth tallest mountain, the 8,163 ft high Mount Manaslu of the Nepalese Himalayas, is the fifth deadliest mountain in the world. It has been successfully climbed 661 times. 60 deaths have been recorded on the mountain during the ascent of climbers while five deaths have resulted while climbing down Manaslu. Avalanches have been responsible for most of the deaths. Altitude sickness, falls in a crevasse, serac falls, and exhaustion and cold are the other causes of deaths on the mountain.

Mount Annapurna

Mount Annapurna has the highest fatality rate of the eight-thousanders of the world (mountains above 8,000 meters tall). While only 191 successful ascents have been recorded on the mountain, 52 deaths during ascent and 9 during descent have also been recorded. The mountain has a death rate of 34 deaths per 100 safe returns, the highest in the world. The south face of Mount Annapurna is considered the most dangerous route to its summit.

One of the deadliest events on this mountain was recorded in October 2014 when 43 people lost their lives to avalanches and snowstorms on and around the mountain. It was the worst trekking disaster in the history of Nepal.

Cho Oyu

The 8,188 meters tall Cho Oyu Mountain is part of the Himalayas and is located on the China-Nepal border. Although 34 deaths during ascent and 10 deaths during descent have been recorded on this mountain, it has also got a record of 3138 successful ascents. It has the lowest death-summit ratio. It is regarded as the easiest eight-thousander to climb. It is marketed as a “trekking peak” that can be successful climbed by those with a high fitness level but not necessarily high levels of mountaineering experience.

Other Mountains With High Number Of Deaths

Kangchenjunga, Makalu 1 and Gasherbrum are three other mountains with the highest number of deaths recorded on them as mentioned in the table below.

Mountains By Death Rate

When assessed on the basis of death rate or the ratio of actual deaths per safe returns, Mount Annapurna, Mount K2, and Mount Nanga Parbat rank as the first, second, and third most dangerous mountains to climb respectively. They have deaths rates of 34 per 100 safe returns, 29 per 100 safe returns, and 21 per 100 safe returns, respectively

10 Of The World's Deadliest Mountains

RankMountainNumber of successful ascents as of 2012Number of deaths on ascent as of 2012Number of deaths on descent as of 2012
1Mount Everest565616558
2Mount K23065031
3Dhaulagiri408618
4Nanga Parbat335617
5Manaslu661605
6Annapurna191529
7Cho Oyu31383410
8Kangchenjunga283328
9Makalu 13611813
10Gasherbrum334227

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