Scaling a mountain is never the safest of activities but with careful planning and the correct training, it can be a pleasant and rewarding endeavor. However, some mountains are so perilous only the truly daring, or insane, are prepared to scale them and here we look at a few of those that may be worth avoiding.
1. Eiger – Switzerland
A 3,970-meter peak in the Swiss Alps, it was first summited in 1858, however, it took a further 80 years before anyone managed to get to the top via the North face. So perilous is this ascent that it has claimed the lives of at least 64 climbers and thus has been dubbed ‘Mordwand’ which translates as ‘murder wall’. It is a technically difficult climb in the first place but the regular chance of rockfall heightens the risk. Other mountain tracks known as the ‘iron roads’ are far less dangerous and pass right under the North face before ascending via a route far less likely to kill you.
2. Annapurna – Nepal
Only 157 people have ever attempted to summit Anapurna and of those 60 have perished trying. The 10th highest mountain in the world at 8,091 meters above sea level, its South face wasn’t traversed until 1970, some 20 years after it had been first summited. The first solo ascent of the South face was as recent as 2007 with 1987 being the first time it had been done in Winter. Despite this, if you avoid the South face there are many treks and routes around the mountain including cycle paths where you can get some magnificent views of peaks over 6,000 meters.
3. K2 – Pakistan
The second highest mountain in the world has the second highest fatality rate of any peak over 8,000 meters. Still yet to be scaled in winter, for every four mountaineers who manage to reach its peak, one has died trying and this is partly down to the ferocious storms that happen near its highest point, contributing to its nickname ‘Savage Mountain’. First scaled in 1964, it took another 25 years before it was done again.
4. Mont Blanc – France
Western Europe’s highest mountain, it is not the most technically challenging ascent on this list but it has claimed the lives of over 8,000 people. With a fatality rate that averages around 100 people a year, the narrow passes and chances of avalanche are often a cause for concern despite the ascent often being described as ‘more of a long walk.’
5. Nanga Parbat – Pakistan
The Western anchor of the Himalayas and ninth highest mountain in the world, it rivals K2 for technical difficulty. Like K2, it has never been summited in the winter and has claimed dozens of lives. It’s not only its technical difficulty that has led to the deaths of many but the dangerous region itself is often plagued by terrorist attacks and violent murders and so it is currently off limits to tour operators.
6. Kangchenjunga – India
The highest mountain in India, around 1 in 5 people who attempt to scale it are claimed usually by extreme weather conditions or avalanches. Those wanting to see the mountain are probably better off visiting nearby Darjeeling and peering at it from afar rather than trying a death-defying climb. Interestingly, no one has ever got to the summit because they stop short of it in order to keep inviolate after a promise given to the ruling Chogyal of the region upon its first expedition and this tradition has been kept.
7. Mount Fitz Roy – Argentina
With sheer granite faces and tricky weather conditions, this mountain can go the whole year without someone summiting. First conquered in 1952, it is one of the most technically challenging mountains on Earth and its remote location makes it hard to get to in the first place.
8. Mount Vinson – Antarctica
Not even seen until 1958, it was first scaled in 1966 and at 4,892 meters high, it is nowhere near as tall as some of the behemoths on this list but its treacherous and remote location makes for inclement weather, freezing snowfall and plunging temperatures that all contribute to this hazardous route.
9. The Matterhorn – Italy
Technically difficult, regular avalanches and weather that rapidly changes all contribute to the ridiculous fatality rate of the Matterhorn. The first ascent of it ended in tragedy when four of the climbers fell to their deaths on the way down contributing to one of the highest fatality rates of all the Alpine peaks.
10. Mount Everest – Tibet
Earth’s highest mountain has long attracted avid adventurers and now sees mass tourism brought to its craggy outset. Despite this, it remains perilous to climb with over 200 people dying on its slopes. So dangerous is it that bodies have been known to be left there due to the conditions only for ‘clean-up teams’ to bring them down at a later date. At 8,840 meters tall it wasn’t until 1953 that it was fully climbed and by 1987 only a total, only around 200 people had managed the feat.