May 16, 2022

The 10 Hardest Mountains to Climb in the World

by Bernice

It’s always great to be on top of one of the most dreadful mountains facing the giant snow. But getting to the top is not just a puzzle but a difficult-embedded endeavor.

Suffice it to say, there are technical obstacles and bad weather. This difficulty varies from mountain to mountain, with some having a fair path to the top.

Nevertheless, some have avalanches, falling rock, and very steep paths. This pronounces their level of difficulty.

Read on to discover the ten hardest mountains to climb in the world.

  1. Annapurna I
  2. K2
  3. Nanga Parbat 3
  4. Kanchenjunga
  5. The Eiger
  6. Baintha Brakk
  7. Matterhorn
  8. Mont Blanc
  9. Mount Everest
  10. Dhaulagiri

Table of Contents
Hardest Mountains to Climb in the World
10 of the Hardest Mountains to Climb in the World

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1. Annapurna I

The globe’s tenth tallest peak, Annapurna I, ranks among the most challenging mountain to climb. This Himalayan-based mountain, at 8,091 meters, is both difficult and fun to climb. 

Unlike Everest, it exclusively draws the sharpest mountaineers. Unfortunately, a third of these climbers never get back home.

Annapurna I, the tallest mountain within the Annapurna group, has only been ascended by 191 mountaineers, while 72 others have died trying, increasing the fatality percentage to 38%.

In terms of fatality rates, it is thus among the top ten hardest mountains to climb globally. But what is it that makes Annapurna extremely dangerous?

Climbers must go directly beneath craggy ice cliffs and seracs, which may topple at any time when climbing. Above Annapurna, you get multiple avalanche-affected areas.

Avalanches are known to claim the lives of several climbers on Annapurna. Besides the avalanche, certain portions are incredibly tough to climb, pronouncing death to those trying to get past. 

Several climbers fall into crevasses or topes from the cliff again. Annapurna has a difficult peak to climb because of its changing climate.

Snowfalls are a definite risk at any moment. Mountaineers can, at times, vanish due to poor vision on the peak.

Climbers frequently experience difficulties, including altitude vertigo and respiratory failure, due to the harsh atmosphere at extreme altitudes.

Compared to the other eight-thousanders, Annapurna is more challenging as there are no local people around to come to your aid. 

Related Article: Why Is Ice in a Glacier Considered to be a Mineral?

2. K2

K2 comes in second place. Historically, out of every four climbers who go to K2, two are ill-fated never to return home.

Amongst the tallest mountains in the world, K2 hails from the second position. Additionally, it has a larger death-to-peak ratio.

K2 presents lethal obstacles because of its tremendous complexity. K2 is occasionally unclimbed for a whole year, whereas roughly 500 climbers conquer Everest annually. This mountain is known as “Mountaineer’s Mountain” since the best climbers can only reach it.

Snowstorms and poor weather may strike climbers on the K2 peak at any moment. The ascent is practically impossible due to the high slopes.

When considering the parts of granite that could fall on mountaineers at any stage, the difficulty of this adventure becomes more pronounced.

Again, while you are on K2, a dangerous portion known as the bottleneck exists. Therefore, a climber must traverse a giant ice wall beneath overhanging glaciers. Further, an avalanche is more likely in seracs since the slopes at their points are not stable. 

K2 is one of the ten most challenging mountains to climb in the world. In contrast to Annapurna, some mountaineers appear that the fatality rate on K2 is not reduced. K2 is also more dangerous than Everest.

A view to Mountain K2
A view of Mountain K2

3. Nanga Parbat 3

Nanga Parbat is number 9 in the world in terms of height. However, if its technical difficulties are considered, it is comparable to the K2 above.

Due to the team’s sheer hardship and rising mortality rates, climbers have claimed the Nanga Parbat to be the “Man-Eater.”

On the other hand, avalanches remain the leading agent of death on Nanga Parbat. Extreme weather exposure and slips are two other leading causes.

It’s not to be climbed during the winter due to its frigid nature. Furthermore, the largeness of this mountain’s face is incomparable to other mountain faces on the entire globe. Nanga Parbat’s southern end, known as “Rupal Face,” climbs 15,000 feet. 

Hermann Buhl was the first man to summit Nanga Parbat in 1953. After 31 mountaineers perished in failed efforts, Nanga Parbat has seen various tragedies over its history, including in 1895 and 1934, the other one coming shortly in 1937, and the most recent one coming in 1970.

Other catastrophes have recently emerged in mid-2017. This was the vanishing of two mountaineers. Another fatality occurred, this time on a Polish mountaineer.

As of now, Nanga Parbat’s fatality rate is at 22%. Aside from the mountain, some variables are at play in Nanga Parbat, such as the act of terrorism committed in 2013.

There were eleven climbers murdered. Furthermore, the Nanga Parbat climbing community considers their peak to be the most challenging mountain to conquer because of these previous experiences.

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4. Kanchenjunga

With enhanced climbing equipment, the death rate at other summits decreases dramatically. But Kanchenjunga is becoming more deadly than ever as deaths rise. Since 1990, the death rates in Kanchenjunga have increased to 20%.

What makes climbing Kanchenjunga so dangerous?

The far more prevalent reason for fatalities for Kanchenjunga mountaineers, based on current records, is slipping. Challenging terrain could also be a significant factor. Still, there are a lot of factors that make Kanchenjunga so deadly.

Kanchenjunga is inaccessible. The base camp takes about half a month to get to. Consequently, you will be exhausted before you even begin the ascent.

Additionally, the mountain poses the greatest threat. Some small, challenging ascents will be required throughout the entire trip.

It would help if you went directly beneath towering glaciers or seracs, which may fall at any time. As a result, avalanches are the significant danger associated with ascending Kanchenjunga. As a climber, you must be cautious because some mountain sections are 45°- 50 steep.

The steep area above camp IV also claims the lives of countless climbers attempting to get back from the summit. As a result, the summit descents are even more difficult than getting to the summit itself. 

Kanchenjunga is unquestionably one of the most dangerous peaks globally due to its harsh climate, avalanche-prone sections, and difficult climbing sides.

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5. The Eiger

A dangerous mountain doesn’t have to be the highest one. This is demonstrated by the 9,740-meter Eiger, one of the world’s most difficult mountains to climb.

The mountain towers above Scheidegg, a tiny village in the Bernese Alps. The mountain seems tiny but reachable in comparison to many giant mountains. 

The northern face, or the Nordwand, comprises a massive, fractured limestone cliff. The 1800-meter-high cliff has the biggest northern face in the Alps.

Mountaineers have dubbed it “The Murderous Wall” because of its difficulties and dangers. Multiple climbers have reportedly perished attempting to conquer the Eiger via this route.

The north face presents some tricky portions. There is a considerable risk of falling rocks, icefalls, or avalanches as the ice melts. Mountaineers have retraced their ways after being pummeled by boulders and ice a few meters away from the top.

Its difficulty was scary until 1858, when guides from Switzerland, Almer, Bohren, and Barrington, got to its summit. Since then, over 700 mountaineers have climbed it successfully.

Several climbers, meanwhile, have died as a result of the mountain. Over 50 mountaineers have died on the north face. Read our avalanche safety archives to be prepared for avalanche-related difficulties during mountaineering.

6. Baintha Brakk

Pakistanis refer to the Baintha Brakk as “The Ogre.” On itself, the mountain is jagged. Additionally, high-altitude steeps and craggy granite structures reach 7,285 meters.

Baintha is one of the top 10 hardest mountains to climb globally due to its steep nature and rough terrain. 

Despite this, it lures top climbers. The Baintha Brakk rises almost 3 km on its southern face, towering over the Uzun Brakk Glacier. Crossing the icy slopes of the Death Valley before reaching the summit is a tremendous endeavor.

Climbers are frequently forced to go directly beneath hazardous ice walls, which may collapse at any moment. Baintha Brakk continues to be a challenging climb because of the physical challenges, unexpected weather, and altitudes.

There is no evidence that Baintha Brakk has been climbed previously. Throughout the 50s and 60s, a small group of climbers scaled the Himalayas’ most difficult eight-thousanders. Despite this, no mountaineer tried to take on this behemoth till 1971.

In 1971 and 1976, two Brits who went up Baintha Brakk throughout a 7-day descent sustained fractured legs, cracked ribs, and bronchitis despite previous fruitless efforts.

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7. Matterhorn

The Matterhorn is a famous alpine peak on the Swiss and Italian border. Owing to its unspoiled beauty, it attracts roughly 3,000 climbers annually.

Although the Matterhorn is beautiful, it is also perilous. As of now, it has killed nearly 500 climbers. 

The Matterhorn was conquered in 1865. The mountaineers have been rushing to the top ever since. Several climbers have died on this difficult summit, and congestion is a factor in inevitable fatalities.

Avalanches and falling rocks are yet another cause for concern. Add in the storms and extreme weather, and the situation becomes dreadful.

The very first effort cost the lives of three mountaineers due to falls. Statistically, roughly 12 climbers die each year on this mountain.

Ignoring the reality that several mountaineers have succeeded in scaling this pyramidal summit, the life-claiming character cannot be denied.

Related Article: How Hard Climbing Mount Sinai Is?

8. Mont Blanc 

Since it is Europe’s highest peak, Mont Blanc does have a seductive element that draws adventurers to its top. Mont Blanc has been climbed by over 30,000 people thanks to its appeal.

Depending on these figures, the Mont Blanc trip seems to be relatively straightforward. Despite this, some people have died while climbing it. It is, therefore, one of the world’s hardest mountains to climb. On average, 100 climbers die annually on Mont Blanc.

However, Mont Blanc isn’t overly complicated or challenging. The overwhelming volume of skilled and unskilled mountaineers on Mont Blanc is responsible for many deaths. 

Mont Blanc gets crowds of over 200 mountain climbers a day during high seasons. Overcrowding is a risk factor for death.

Additionally, there are rockfalls and avalanche collapses. Besides, the “Grand Couloir” stretch of the Gouter path is notorious for falling rocks. 

As a climber, you have to tackle massive slabs of ice that may crumble when least expected. Similarly, the “Grand Mulet” trail is riddled with deadly crevasses and fissures. Hot weather softens the snowfall, causing it to fall and generate avalanches. Read more about the difference between crevice vs crevasse.

Furthermore, the temperature at the summit of Mont Blanc is notoriously fickle. In the summer, it is often extremely cold on the summit of Mont Blanc.

Winds of 60 km/hr may quickly aggravate the already difficult conditions. As a result, several mountaineers have died while attempting to conquer Mont Blanc in the past decades. Unfortunately, most of them are inexperienced climbers.

9. Mount Everest

As you may have suspected, that’s the world’s highest peak. Although Mount Everest is hardly as tough to conquer as other peaks on this list, It’s also among the hardest mountains to climb.

Since 2000, Mount Everest has had 1.4 percent fatalities, with approximately 300 people dying on the mountain. Everest’s atmosphere is brutally cold and unforgiving, despite its 8,844 meters.

The part over 8000 m, known as the Death Zone, remains exceedingly treacherous and has killed even professionals. 

You lose your sense of touch at those altitudes and become extremely chilly. Altitude vertigo, respiratory failure, cardiac arrest, and other health problems are common among climbers.

It is inconceivable, or at best extremely complicated, to take down a mountaineer suffering from a medical ailment at such high elevations.

Consequently, countless climbers perish, as their corpses are left on the mountainside for all eternity.

Altitude fever, bitter cold, changing temperatures, accidents, avalanches, depressions, and perhaps peak fever are among the significant challenges on Everest.

Nearly every climber on Everest has died due to being entrapped in avalanches and falling. Given the numerous risks involved, Mount Everest remains the world’s most challenging mountain.

Read our guide on when is the Everest climbing season and how long does it take to climb Everest so you can prepare for your expedition properly.

A view of Mountain Everest
A view of Mountain Everest

10. Dhaulagiri

Dhaulagiri is a massive mountain on the west side of Annapurna, the globe’s seventh highest peak. The summit has also drawn elite mountaineers across the globe.

And over 480 people have climbed to the peak. Over 73 mountaineers have died on Dhaulagiri peak, with another 73 dying while trying to ascend it.

So, what was the cause of Dhaulagiri’s fatal outcomes?

Several people die in Dhaulagiri because of avalanches, awful weather, or extreme altitude. Avalanches and environmental hazards can be found at various points along the route to the summit.

Even so, it has only been conquered by mountaineers in the 60s. After the first ascent, climbers took nearly ten years to return to the summit.

Dhaulagiri is a difficult peak to climb, standing at 8,167 meters. Its sheer sides, remote location, and steep height rise make Dhaulagiri a problematic peak to tackle.

Final Thoughts on the 10 Hardest Mountains to Climb in the World

Ascending these mountains is one of the most dangerous and demanding jobs you will ever undertake. Standing on such peaks is an opportunity of a lifetime. Regardless, it remains a difficulty.

Ensure you have the requisite climbing skills, logistics and climbing equipment, and dedication. Above all, be physically and psychologically fit before traveling to any of the above.

You don’t want to wind yourself in a climbing tragedy, even if you choose the qualified companions and the appropriate moment.

Prepare yourself with more mountaineering knowledge. Learn more about mountaineering from our mountaineering FAQs archives and mountaineering skills archives.

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About the author 

Bernice

Bernice often jokes that she is better at climbing than walking. With avid parents of climbing, her first encounter with the high vertical rock walls was at the age of one. Her favorite style of climbing is bouldering.

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